Our Idiot Elite: Freedom Is Slavery, Winston

Was there a time when being published in The New Yorker meant you were a better, smarter, more capable writer than, say, a liberal blogger?

I dimly remember such a time.

But in reading Kalefa Sanneh’s “The Hell You Say” – an apologia for gutting the First Amendment and letting government decide how much freedom of speech we really need, because that’s the way Europe does it.

It’s a target-rich environment of bad research and lazy writing, a bit of journalism of entitlement that would fit in on Minnesota Progressive Project.

Yep.  That bad.

I picked one bit – in which Sanneh argues that unregulated speech as we know it really only started in the past 100 years due to – wait for it – white privilege:

This, in essence, was Justice Holmes’s rationale, in 1919, when he argued in an influential dissent that antiwar anarchists should be free to agitate. “Nobody can suppose that the surreptitious publishing of a silly leaflet by an unknown man, without more, would present any immediate danger,” he wrote. Free-speech advocates typically claim that the value of unfettered expression outweighs any harm it might cause, offering assurances that any such harm will be minimal. But what makes them so sure? America’s free-speech regime is shot through with exceptions, including civil (and, in some states, criminal) laws against libel.

Right.  But defamation requires both untruth and actual, tangible, real damages.  It’s intentionally hard to win a defamation / libel case.  For good reason.

By what rationale do we insist that groups—races, communities of faith—don’t deserve similar protection?

Races?  Who would file the petition?

Communities of faith?  Boy, are us Christians going to go to town when we lawyer up.

Many free-speech arguments turn on a deceptively simple question: what is speech? It’s clear that the protected category excludes all sorts of statements. (The First Amendment will be of no use to someone who writes a fraudulent contract, or who says, “Hand over your wallet and iPhone,” and means it.)

And in not knowing the difference between Speech and Robbery,Sanneh has not only forever destroyed The New Yorker as a source of useful journalism, but ousted Grace Kelly from her throne as the least cogniscent writer in the world.

The howlers come with a density that I’ve only rarely encountered, much less tackled.

Indeed, so insidiously bad is the piece that Greg Lukianoff mobilized ten free speech advocates to tackle and beat Saleh’s piece unconscious.

Read Sanneh to see the id of today’s left in action.

Read Lukianoff to see it dismembered.

There’s your assignment for the day.

Our Idiot Elite

One of the things you learn by studying “progressivism” (as starkly opposed to classical liberalism) is the contempt its practitioners have for their subjects.

Er, citizens.  Sorry.  That was a slip.

Micheal Barone reviews a book – ““The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class.” by Fred Siegel – and  runs down some history of this contempt, a history lesson you just didn’t get in high school:

Progressivism was repudiated in the landslide election of Warren Harding in 1920, at which point disenchanted [post-Wilsonian] liberal thinkers turned their ire against middle-class Americans who, in the “Roaring ’20s,” were happily buying automobiles, refrigerators, radios, and tickets to the movies.

The novels of Sinclair Lewis, the journalism of H. L. Mencken, and the literary criticism of Van Wyck Brooks heaped scorn on the vast and supposedly mindless Americans who worked hard at their jobs and joined civic groups — Mencken’s “booboisie.”

I’ve always been annoyed by the retroactive regard Mencken gets – but given his resonance with our intellectual “ruling class”, it makes disturbing sense. 

These 1920s liberals idealized the “noble aspiration” and “fine aristocratic pride” in an imaginary Europe, and considered Americans, in the words of a Lewis character, “a savorless people, gulping tasteless food,” and “listening to mechanical music, saying mechanical things about the excellence of Ford automobiles, and viewing themselves as the greatest race in the world.”

This contempt for ordinary Americans mostly persisted in changing political environments. During the Great Depression, many liberals became Communists, proclaiming themselves tribunes of a virtuous oppressed proletariat that would have an enlightened rule…The supposedly mindless 1950s, Siegel recalls, were actually a time of elevated culture, with thousands of Great Books discussion groups across the nation and high TV ratings for programs such as Shakespeare’s Richard III, starring Laurence Olivier.

And let’s not forget the left’s tenuous relationship-of-convenience with rationality:

Liberals since the 1920s have claimed to be guided by the laws of science, but often it was crackpot science, like the eugenics movement that sought forced sterilizations.

Other social-science theories proved unreliable in practice. Keynesian economics crashed and burned in the stagflation of the 1970s.

The academy and the media it spawned has spent nearly 100 years trying to give Real America an inferiority complex. 

Read the whole thing.

Look Back In Anger

Do you remember the puddles of smug joy that the clacque of jabbering Ivy League frat-boy buffoons and sorority-sister buffoonettes that run our governent squirted when they signed Obamacare?

Byron York sure does – and he documents the descent from the End-Zone Happy Dance of March 2010 to the paranoid catatonia in the West Wing today:

[The] Democrats who gathered in the East Room of the White House for the signing ceremony could barely contain their joy. They cheered, they laughed, they shouted, they pumped their fists, they wouldn’t sit down. They chanted “Fired up — ready to go!” as they had at Obama campaign rallies. When the president recognized Nancy Pelosi, then speaker of the House, the chant turned to “Nancy! Nancy! Nancy!”

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Pelosi, of course, would be swept out of the speakership in the Republican landslide a few months later — a result that was based, in part, on the voters’ unhappiness with Obamacare. And today, some of the other Democrats in the East Room are now afraid for their jobs — because of the voters’ unhappiness with Obamacare.

After an effusive introduction from Vice President Biden, Obama turned almost immediately to the task ahead. “It will take four years to implement fully many of these reforms,” he said, “because we need to implement them responsibly. We need to get this right.”

At the time, no one had any idea just how ill-prepared Obama and his administration were to actually do the job they set for themselves. Three years later, approaching an Oct. 1, 2013, deadline for the establishment of the Obamacare exchanges, the administration was still scrambling to finish even the most basic tasks. What followed was disaster.

Read the whole thing.

Show it to your friends who are losing their coverage.

Let them get angry.

The Most Insulting Delusion…

… not to mention dumbest conceit that the left has is that so many of them think that if I were given a choice in a race between two candidates – namely:

  • A black Taoist lesbian who was a fierce Austrian-school trench-fighter with a solid private-sector background and a record as a spending hawk and tax reformer, and…
  • A white Ivy League dweeb with impeccable liberal credentials…

…that I’d try to find some excuse to vote for the white guy.

Just isn’t so

Animal Farm

In 2004, lefty commentator Thomas Frank published a book “What’s The Matter With Kansas” – which analyzed the growing conservative majority in America’s heartland…

…in the most patronizing, contemptuous way I’d heard until the mainstream media’s response to the Tea Party five years later.  Frank hammered on the idea that conservatives in the heartland were “voting against their interests” by voting Conservative.

The ‘Interests”, of course, were limited to “having government take care of you, provided you send it enough taxes” (my phrase, not Frank’s)..  “Kansas” – Frank’s home state on the one hand, and his and every lefty pundit’s short-hand for “all those dumb rubes I left behind when I went to an Ivy League school” on the other – has “interests” that begin with getting farm subsidies and end with single-payer health care.

Frank’s thesis, in other words?  States, and citizens, are dependents.  Like pets.  Like a herd of cattle for which a noble farmer is responsible; it’s in the cattle’s interest to make the farmer’s life easy.  Or maybe like children – little people who aren’t quite fully formed, who depend on the older, wiser, parents to keep them on the straight and narrow until a majority that never comes.

And it highlit one of the big disputes between “progressives” and conservatives:  what is the role of a person, a citizen?  To a liberal, it’s “vote when told to vote, pay your taxes when told to pay taxes, and don’t get in the way”.  To a conservative, it’s to be one of the free association of equals that consents to having a government, and – make no mistake – controls that government.

This argument came to the nation, and Minnesota, this past few months.

Last spring, Representative Mary Franson from the Alexandria area took nationwide heat for a comment which some of the local Sorosphere’s ‘dimmer bulbs yanked out of context (and a few of the less less-bright ones correctly called out as a dumb hit) which was, in its entirety, correct; long-term dependence on welfare does, in fact, treat people like animals.  Like pets, at best; little critters for whose well-being the master – the owner, or government, depending on which end of the metaphor you’re talking about – is responsible.

And about the same time the Sorosphere was denouncing Franson with florid indignation, the Obama Administration came out and proved that Franson was exactly right – that the government did in fact see citizens as monochromatic consumers, as ivestock, dependent on their owner/master/government for their ongoing wellbeing, with the fabulously inept and gloriously spoof-worthy and, beyond that, downright Orwellian “Julia” campaign.

David Clemens – in a piece called “Elvis Vs. Julia”, which is actually a defense of humanities education, the discipline of studying the why of humanity, which is in its entirely worth a read for its own sake – cuts to the reason “progressives” attitudes about the government / citizen relationship, as revleated by “Julia” are not just toxic, but dehumanizing:

This is why selling the Julia concept frightens me. She doesn’t yearn to be free, like a human; she yearns to be kept. Julia embraces the piano key life that the president offers, and like W. H. Auden’s Unknown Citizen, she will act and behave predictably, she will choose and think correctly.

But in literature (and life) we recoil from those who trade freedom for safety nets and soft landings. The great anti-utopian novelists warned us over and over what happens when we make that bargain: George Orwell’s Winston Smith, Aldous Huxley’s John Savage, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s D-503 would rather suffer or die than join the Party, take the soma, or blend into the One State.

So what I find most chilling about the Julia ad concept is its creators’ cynical view of Americans, particularly women. And what if her creators are right? As Michael Walsh writes, “It’s tough to accept that perhaps a majority of our fellow Americans would cheerfully trade liberty for a false sense of security.” That is, how many workforce-ready but literature-free voters see The Life of Julia and find her flat, subsidized, feckless life desirable? With the liberal arts in decline, how many “miss the connection?” One must have been exposed to Orwell, Huxley, and Zamyatin in order to see their relationship to Julia and hear the warning.

Clearly, much of the left does – or, worse, “gets it”, but feels the trade is worthwhile, or worst of all, sees themselves as the “shepherds” needed to manage all of us sheep, or Julias, or whatever line of metaphor you want to run with.

A perennial question that divides the political left and right is this: what sort of beings are we? Do we have an immutable, perhaps transcendent, nature that will surrender everything utopia for autonomy, agency, and freedom (Elvis) [who, it might be said, rebelled against the very security that his phenomenally-successful career ]? Or is there no inherent nature, and humans are just socially constructed, plastic, seeking nothing but safety and a reliable sense of well-being (Julia)? Political Science, Psychology, and Anthropology cannot answer that question, and the sciences can only measure what is measurable. The liberal arts and humanities, however, insist that we are like Elvis, and that those who trade liberty for comfort always live to regret it.

Well, some humanities observe this.  Others are waiting on their next NEH grant.

But the real question is – which is a better reflection of what humans are, and can be?  Conservatism, with its immutable standards and great consequences and sometimes greater hurdles?  Or a life bellied up to the government trough, like the one Obama and Mark Dayton clearly see for us?

What’s the matter with Kansas – and with Kansans like us?

We’re human, and we want to stay that way.

“Ignorance And Incompetence”

Remember when Barack Obama, the smooth-talking “smart’ Ivy Leaguer, was going to improve our standing overseas with his “smart diplomacy?”

Either do the people of Poland:

During an East Room ceremony honoring 13 Medal of Freedom recipients, Obama said that [Polish underground hero Jan] Karski “served as a courier for the Polish resistance during the darkest days of World War II. Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself. Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, giving one of the first accounts of the Holocaust and imploring to the world to take action.”

The administration is claiming President Obama “mis-spoke” – and, truth be told, I get that.  The extermination camps were in Poland.

Which had, as it happens, been occupied with exceptional brutality by the Nazis, who considered the Poles very nearly as untermensch as the Jews.  Calling the death camps “Polish” is like calling Wounded Knee “Native American” or slavery “African”; technically accurate, morally tone-deaf.

Said Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk:

“It’s a pity that such a dignified ceremony was overshadowed by ignorance and incompetence.”

I’m just going to go and bask in all that newfound respect we’ve gotten.

UPDATE:  By the way – I scanned in vain for a sign that any of the local TV stations covered this flap this morning.  They covered the fact that Bob Dylan also got a Presidential Medal of Freedom – but hey, he’s from Minnesota, right?

But they also noted Madeleine Albright, one of the worst Secretaries of State we’ve ever had, and certainly not a local angle.

I bring it up because it’s become a bit of a chanting point among the Twin Cities far left that Twin Cities TV stations are “conservative”.

Seems a bit of a reach, is all I’m saying.

The Exposed Intellectual Id Of The DFL, Chapter CXXVI

Today’s example of the DFL’s exposed intellectual id is Nicholas Dolphin of (where else) Minneapolis, who wrote a letter to the editor in the Strib – featured, naturally, as their “letter of the day” about a week ago.

Mr. Dolphin wrote:

State Rep. Kurt Bills, newly endorsed by the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate race, is quoted as saying “we sent a lawyer, a community organizer and a comedian to Washington, D.C., and we get an economy that looks like it does today.”

The line is cute, “quippy” and closely follows the Republican playbook established years ago by Karl Rove. In football, it is called a misdirection play.

At the risk of saying “I know you are but what is Kurt?” that is, itself, a misdirection.  Not only did Rove himself not invent that “play”, Mr. Dolphin would divert the conversation from Mr. Bills’ point, which was “Have the efforts of the lawyer, the community organizer and the comedian made your life better than it was four years ago”?

That’d be a laughable premise, wouldn’t it?  Obama, Klobama and A-Frank have presided over an economic debacle!

But that’s apparently not the real subject to Mr. Dolphin::

In politics, it says that when your qualifications are nowhere near those of your opponent, go personal and cute while avoiding actual résumé or accomplishment comparisons.

The avoidance/misdirection here is the omission of the qualifications of that lawyer (Sen. Amy Klobuchar), community organizer (President Obama, who’s actually a lawyer, too) and comedian (Sen. Al Franken).

“Accomplishment comparisons”.

“Qualifications”.

Heh.

We’ll come back to that.

The three possess undergraduate degrees, respectively, from Yale, Columbia and Harvard. Klobuchar’s and Obama’s law degrees come from the University of Chicago and Harvard, respectively. And none of these individuals received a legacy admission.

Depending on the source, the lowest-ranked of those five degrees is Harvard Law, at No. 5 nationally. Franken, with his undergraduate degree from the No. 2 undergraduate university in the United States (No. 2 in the world) is really pulling down the average here.

Well, isn’t that special.

Look – the very best thing that an Ivy League or Tier 1 education says about someone is that between the ages of 14 and 25 (give or take a few years either way) they understood the importance of playing the paper chase well enough to punch all the academic, extracurricular and social tickets it took to impress an Ivy League or Tier 1 admissions committee enough to admit them, and to get the scholarships, loans and aid it took to get a shot at spending four to seven years getting sufficient grades (adjusted for Ivy-League grade inflation) to get access to that most coveted benefit of the Ivy League education; the alumni directory.   And that is the very, very best thing it says; in most cases, it bespeaks family social connections, generations in the upper-middle class, family wealth, or political correctness.  Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those, but none of them imply any special merit…

…and that’s just with a brand-new graduate.  After one has gotten that precious diploma copy of the alumni directory, the only question any rational person cares about is “what  have you done lately?”  People who barber on about their Ivy League diplomas after age 25 resemble Andy Bernard from The Office more and more with every passing year.

And those who do it on their behalf?  That’s just sad.

Because in this, an election year, the only question that matters is “What have you done for us lately?”

Do Obama’s degrees from Columbia and Harvard make his multiplication of our national debt, turbucharging our spending and embarkIing on a regulatory and tax course that will sooner than later cripple our private sector and send us briskly down the Greek and Spanish path seem like good ideas?

Does A-Klo’s time at Yale and U-Chi make her sotto voce vote for Obama’s medical device tax – which is already hammering Minnesota industry, and we ain’t seen nothing yet – anything but a disaster for the state she “represents?”

Have Franken’s Harvard degree and decades as  smug snarksmith evolved him into anything but a reliable legislative ticket-puncher on the road to ruin?

Have all their degrees made your life any better than it was four years ago?

Because that is the only question anyone should care about today.

And it’s Mr. Dolphin that’s doing the misdirecting – because while none of Obama, Klobama or Mr. Smalley’s degrees have helped any of us one iota, they sure do look impressive!

Bills’ alma mater, Winona State University, is a nice local school that doesn’t attract the same caliber of student and whose graduates would be better served not denigrating people whose academic accomplishments dwarf their own.

And leaving aside the misdirection, Mr. Dolphin has done Minnesotans one sterling service here; he’s highlighted as clearly as anyone ever has the smarmy authoritarianism of “progressivism”.   You mere peasants with your degrees from state schools should shut up and pay your taxes let your betters do your thinking for you, doncha know.

Mr. Dolphin; Abraham Lincoln was self-taught.  Ronald Reagan went to Eureka College.   Most of the world’s great achievements (outside of medicine and hard science) came from people who did things, rather than waved their degrees around.

I’ve come to the opinion that an Ivy League degree should be, if not a disqualifier for higher office, at least a hurdle to be overcome with some counterbalancing achievement in life since graduation.

And that’d be a hurdle over which Obama, Klobuchar nor Franken have all stumbled, fallen and face-planted.

Here’s A Flashback For You

Remember back in 2008, when liberals would stare all starry-eyed into space with that look teenagers used to get when Leif Garrett or Nick Carter appeared in Tiger Beat: “Oooh, Barack Obama was a constitutional lawyer!  That’s an ideal background for a President!”

At best, it’s irrelevant; a President needs to know about as much about Constitutional Law as a good cop does.  He’s got people for the complicated stuff.

At worst?  It’s one of the worst possible backgrounds for a President; the last think you want to do is turn lawyers loose around the law with nearly unlimited power.

Thom Lambert – a lawyer and former law student of President Obama – knows better:

Imagine if you picked up your morning paper to read that one of your astronomy professors had publicly questioned whether the earth, in fact, revolves around the sun. Or suppose that one of your economics professors was quoted as saying that consumers would purchase more gasoline if the price would simply rise. Or maybe your high school math teacher was publicly insisting that 2 + 2 = 5. You’d be a little embarrassed, right? You’d worry that your colleagues and friends might begin to question your astronomical, economic, or mathematical literacy.

(That’s one of the things I always wondered about people who went to law schools or “elite” universities; the idea that the institution one attends defines one’s personality, or indeed personhood.  To the extent it does, it’s in the sense of say “Hey, look at me, I went to Cornell, Go Tigers” – or, for that matter, “I’m qualified for a job because I went to an Ivy League school” – at in appropriate times).

(But I digress).

Now you know how I felt this morning when I read in the Wall Street Journal that my own constitutional law professor had stated that it would be “an unprecedented, extraordinary step” for the Supreme Court to “overturn[] a law [i.e., the Affordable Care Act] that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” Putting aside the “strong majority” nonsense (the deeply unpopular Affordable Care Act got through the Senate with the minimum number of votes needed to survive a filibuster and passed 219-212 in the House), saying that it would be “unprecedented” and “extraordinary” for the Supreme Court to strike down a law that violates the Constitution is like saying that Kansas City is the capital of Kansas.

The Democrats, presiding as they have over four years of rot and decay, have switched to the “say what you’d like the truth to be and hope people buy it” school of public relations.  History shows it’s not a bad choice, albeit it’s still wrong…

Thus, a Wall Street Journal editorial queried this about the President who “famously taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago”: “[D]id he somehow not teach the historic case of Marbury v. Madison?”

I actually know the answer to that question. It’s no (well, technically yes…he didn’t). President Obama taught “Con Law III” at Chicago. Judicial review, federalism, the separation of powers — the old “structural Constitution” stuff — is covered in “Con Law I” (or at least it was when I was a student). Con Law III covers the Fourteenth Amendment. (Oddly enough, Prof. Obama didn’t seem too concerned about “an unelected group of people” overturning a “duly constituted and passed law” when we were discussing all those famous Fourteenth Amendment cases – Roe v. Wade, Griswold v. Connecticut, Romer v. Evans, etc.) Of course, even a Con Law professor focusing on the Bill of Rights should know that the principle of judicial review has been alive and well since 1803, so I still feel like my educational credentials have been tarnished a bit by the President’s “unprecedented, extraordinary” remarks.

Read the whole thing.

And then get a friend to come out to the polls to vote The Light Worker out of office this fall.

Hamlined?

Did Hamline’s faculty break the law when they ganged up to prevent Tom Emmer’s hiring?

Law professor Eugene Volokh wonders:

Minn. Stats. Ann. § 10A.36 makes it a gross misdemeanor for “[a]n individual or association” to “engage in economic reprisals or threaten loss of employment or physical coercion against an individual or association because of that individual’s or association’s political contributions or political activity.” There is an exception for “compensation for employment or loss of employment if the political affiliation or viewpoint of the employee is a bona fide occupational qualification of the employment.”

In other words, Steve Sviggum could lose his gig as GOP Senate spokesman if he went all liberal on us.

But for non-political jobs?

(All jokes about the staff at Hamline, St. Olaf, St. Thomas, Carlton etc claiming the “viewpoint of the employee is a bona fide occupational qualification of the employment” are noted, laughed at, and disposed of in advance)

As I read this, the statute criminalizes pretty much any boycott or other economic retaliation against a person because of his “political activity.” Is this a just law? Or should people have the right to take their business elsewhere, whether on their own or together with others, and whether as customers, contractors, or employers, if they disapprove of a person’s political activities?

It’d seem to be a key part of that whole “Free Association” thing we conservatives support.

So so far I’d say “no, not illegal” – just as it should not be illegal for me to write “The State of Minnesota should not spend one dime of research money at institutions of higher education that are shown to discriminate politically.

Volokh:

Many states impose such restrictions on employers’ firing employees for certain kinds of political activity, and South Carolina law also bans landlords from evicting their tenants for political activity, but the Minnesota statute is the only I could find that bans “economic reprisals” more broadly…I should note that, under NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware (1982), speech encouraging a boycott is protected by the First Amendment. But this law prohibits the actual economic reprisal, not the speech urging it.

I suspect it’s make some lawyer pretty wealthy, trying to litigate it – at least on the basis of the law Volokh cites.

But Katherine Kersten, writing for the Center of the American Experiment, notes that some litigation is starting to worm its way through the system.

Given his rejection by Hamline (after he thought he had a job), Emmer might be pleased to know that some aspiring conservative faculty members who are victims of political discrimination are gaining new traction through the courts.

Take Teresa Wagner, whose case was recently considered by the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Iowa, Minnesota and other Midwestern states.

Some might question Wagner’s sanity, since she applied—and was turned down for—a position at a law school whose 50-member faculty includes only one registered Republican.

Was this hotbed of liberalism Berkeley, or an Ivy League university where (one suspects) conservatives risk being burned at the stake?

No. The school in question was in the heart of Corn Country: the University of Iowa.

As a conservative, Wagner was guilty of several “venial” sins that the high priests of faculty diversity might have forgiven had she confessed and begged for absolution.

The Eighth Circuit is going to hear the case:

The court’s reasoning was revealing. First, the court drew a discriminatory inference from the law school’s grossly skewed 49-to-1 ideological composition. If this is a suspect ratio that may justify hiring lawsuits on First Amendment grounds, then most public education institutions in America may be vulnerable.

 

Second, the court noted the incestuous nature of the hiring process at the University of Iowa Law School.

 

While deans and the hiring committee technically have some authority in this respect, in reality, an ideologically homogenous faculty wields authority and creates cookie-cutter replicas of its ideological biases in its new hires. The court found this constitutionally problematic.

Read the whole thing.

And boycott everything to do with Hamline Universtiy [THIS STATEMENT HAS BEEN RULED INPERMISSIBLE UNDER MINNESOTA STATUTE]

Empty Suit Esquire

When Barack Obama was running for and/or fairly new in office, the left – and others who are impressed with such things – were all dewy-eyed over Barack Obama’s “intelligence” – as measured by the toniness of the diplomas on his wall.

He was an Ivy Leaguer, of course – ending the long national nightmare of our presidential Ivy League drought.

But as I pointed out at the time, not only is the toniness of ones’ degree utterly immaterial to ones suitability for the Presidency, there’s a case to be made that an Ivy League degree (other than in, say, medicine, hard sciences or physics) is a liability in the real world.

P.J. O’Rourke – one of the people who turned me conservative, and a fellow grad of an obscure school (he: Miami of Ohio) – agrees:

Barack Obama went to an Ivy League school, not that he’s doing very well in his career at the moment. Let’s check on the most successful people in America. Sarah Palin went to the University of Idaho. Warren Buffet went to Nebraska. John Boehner went to Xavier. Glenn Beck didn’t go to college at all [to say nothing of Limbaugh – Ed.]. And I’m not sure whether Justin Bieber’s mother even finished high school. Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates did go to Harvard but​…​they dropped out.

O’Rouke is actually responding to Amy Chua, Ivy League professor and author of Tiger Mom, a manifesto on raising children to take up more space in the Ivy League.   But the larger point – the one that applies to our President – is…:

Amy Chua, I’ve got bad news. “A” students work for “B” students. Or not even. A businessman friend of mine corrected me. “No, P. J.,” he said, “ ‘B’ students work for ‘C’ students. ‘A’ students teach.”

And that, really, sums up The One.  He came; he studied; he punched the tickets one must punch to be a Chicago Democrat.

And as with an awful lot of Ivy Leaguers whose main stated qualification is that they were Ivy Leaguers, not a whole lot else.

Overrated

During the campaign, two of the lefty memes that irritated me the most were “Obama’s smart“, and “Obama was an Ivy Leaguer” and, its close cousin, “Obama was a constitutional law professor”.

None of them is especially a qualifier for the office of President.

The “ConLaw professor” is the easiest disposed of; the President will never need to litigate the Constitution; he or she only needs to understand it.  Indeed, all the ideal president really needs to know about the Constitution is how to follow it.  Any good policeman or modestly-bright college graduate knows more than enough about the Constitution to be President.  And the President who thinks they can outfox the Founding Fathers is especially dangerous.

The Ivy Leaguer bit is a little harder – but I think it’s getting to the point where going to an Ivy League school should be a disqualifier for the Presidency; indeed, maybe we should trade the whole “natural-born US citizen” requirement to drop in that restriction.  I dunno.

But the fact is, the very best thing an Ivy League education, in and of itself, says about someone is that between the ages of 14 and 22 or so, that person understood how the paper chase was played well enough to earn spectacular grades and punch all the other Admissions Committee-friendly tickets and earn the scholarships it takes to afford to attend an Ivy.  In vastly more cases, it means that they come from families that both impressed upon the young ‘uns the need to have that upmarket diploma (and its most important fringe benefit, access to the upmarket alumni network), and the means to make it happen.  After about age 23, the best question for an Ivy grad is “what have you done for us lately?; too many wave their diploma around in their mid-thirties like Andy Bernard in The Office and his years at Cornell; they remind me of high school quarterbacks whose lives peaked at the homecoming game their senior year, and never quite got that good again.

And of course, while several great or at least decent presidents have gone to Ivy League schools, our best have been self-educated (Lincoln) or come from obscure midwestern schools (Reagan, who attended Eureka) and have had to earn their way through life on merit, rather than alumni connections.

But the “he’s smart” bit is the one that strikes me, ironically, as the dumbest “qualification”.

Doy.

Betty McCollum notwithstanding, it’s hard for anyone to get anywhere in public life without being “smart” in some sense of the term or another, whether it’s Thomas Jefferson’s world-altering intellect or Lyndon Johnson’s brutal political “street smarts”.

But the least useful, it’d seem, is the bookish, “Lookit me, I’m an Ivy Leaguer and you’re not!”, air of unearned condescension that you get from the overpraised, the overweening, and…

the President:

To be blunt, Obama suffers from a lifetime of others excessively praising his intellect. It insulates him from ideas and facts that conflict with his pre-existing liberal rubric (so “every economist” believed his stimulus would work). It leaves him unprepared to engage in real debate with informed opponents (e.g. the health-care summit). It skews his understanding of how geopolitics works, as he imagines that his own wonderfulness can sway adversaries and override nations’ fundamental interests (the Middle East). Is he as well read as George W. Bush? As intellectually creative as Bill Clinton? As grounded in history as Harry Truman? Let’s get some perspective here.

It’s a deadly combination — intellectual arrogance and lack of sympatico with the public — that leads him again and again to stumble. And when his shortcomings lead to embarrassment or failure, he strikes out in frustration — at Israel, at the media, and at the American people. The image of himself clashes with the results he achieves and the reaction he inspires. No wonder he’s so prickly. You’d be, too, if everyone your entire life had told you that you were swell but now, when the chips are down and the spotlight is on, you are failing so badly in your job.

That, indeed, may be Obama’s great legacy;  that “The Peter Principle” may soon be called “The Obama Principle”.

Sedition For We, But Not For Ye

From 2004, Lex Green at the Chicago Boys blog – the best political/economics blog that I never have time to read – worked over the “United States of Canada” meme – the sore losers who sprang up after John Kerry got sent back to Ville de Palooque:

The basic idea is that the Blue Staters are so horrified about living under the rule of George Bush that they want to break the USA into pieces and form their own country. Of course, they are just venting.

The core strength of “liberal” America resides in the descendants of Yankee puritans, a memetic “Greater New England” that sprang from the Yankee diaspora which settled the Northern tier of the country. These folks have been living uneasily with their fellow Americans for over 350 years. They have been trying to reform the rest of us for our own good the whole time: Revolution, abolition, prohibition, civil rights, environmentalism � . Sometimes they are even right, as much as I hate to admit it. Look at a picture of Cotton Mather, or Susan B. Anthony, or any eat-your-peas liberal do-gooder. The eyes: sad at the foolishness and injustice of the world — the mouth, a mirthless line — and the jaw, set in determination to rectify the world’s wrongs and smite its wrongdoers. Those Yankees, genetic or memetic, are the core of the “progressive” element in American life, and they have been for centuries, and they’ll never change.

Spoofing this movement was some of the most fun I’ve had writing this blog.

And now, ripped from the headlines, “Jamie Stiehm” writes in USN&WR:

All states are not created equal, as this summer’s performances in Congress and other political platforms show anew. Some states are pretty great; some are just plain trouble. Take [Texas, Arizona and South Carolina], for example…

…let me make a modest proposal: that the states that seceded–let them be gone! That means South Carolina, Texas, and even Florida as a bonus, along with the Deep South states that send recalcitrant Republican representatives to Washington with no intention of doing the nation’s business. They are there to block, taunt, and undermine a president, a man from Illinois making social progress. This time, let’s let them go without a fight. Oh, and we’ll keep Virginia, more reconstructed than the rest, and give them Arizona.

…by way of calling for the reddest of the red states to secede.

Let’s make sure we’re clear on the comparison here; people from the ultra-conservative fringe advocate secession = knitted brows and outraged talk of sedition.  Typically vapid Ivy League legacy slime working puff jobs with major media outlets talk about seceding or expelling states that offend them = look at the shiny object.

Wonder if Erik Black will furrow his brow and write a scholarly piece dissecting the pathologies of the left’s mania for secession.

I’ll take “Under” on the over/under.

He Musta Been An Ivy Leaguer

Obama says ” Republicans oppose my policies”:

I think early on, a decision was made by the Republican leadership that said, ‘Look, let’s not give him a victory, maybe we can have a replay of 1993, ’94, when Clinton came in, he failed on health care and then we won in the mid-term elections and we got the majority. And I think there are some folks who are taking a page out that playbook,” the president said.

Gosh, who’da thunk it?  An opposition party actually opposing?

Trying to provide an alternative?  Dissenting?

What kind of country does he think this is?

What Sarah Palin’s Past Year Can Teach Us

There are a few lessons Republicans, Conservatives, and women who opt not to vote Democrat can learn from the past year in Sarah Palin’s life:

  1. No matter how scrupulously you stick to your constitutional role on policy matters, if you are conservative and Christian, your opponents will call you a fundy theocrat.
  2. No matter how accomplished you are,  people will insist you’re not very bright.
  3. If you are a woman who attempts a life in public service without an Ivy League degree, no matter what you’ve done in the intervening twenty years, the tittering nabobs will call you the kinds of things they’d be excoriated for saying about a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader or a Hooters waitress.
  4. If, only other hand, you are a conservative woman who did get an Ivy League degree and went on to huge accomplishments, you’ll be called a bitch who boffed up.
  5. If you are a conservative of either gender, no matter how closely your views are tied to those of most mainstream Americans, you will be called “crazy”.
  6. If you are a conservative of either gender, the media will consider you guilty until proven innocent of any ethics charges  brought against you.  Note the double-standard; a liberal lothario is linked with exploiting interns on company time and lying about it by a stained blue dress, and we were urged to “Move On”; Crazee McJackal from Otter Giblet Alaska says Sarah Palin took hush money from Venusians, and it’s treated with solemn urgency.

So there you go, conservative women.  Those are the ground rules.

You can thank all those “feminists” on the left for all they’ve done for women.

Christian Like Me

Remember the old book “Black Like Me?”  It’s the story of a white journalist, John Howard Griffin, who pharmacologically dyed his skin black to pass as Afro-American; the book relates his experiences.

I knew it was only a matter of time until someone tried it with Christians.

Peter Roose, an undergrad at Brown University, went “undercover” to “infiltrate” Liberty University.

And he found out that fundie Christians are…

…well, basically human:

Roose had transferred to the Virginia campus from Brown University in Providence, a famously liberal member of the Ivy League. His Liberty classmates knew about the switch, but he kept something more important hidden: He planned to write a book about his experience at the school founded by fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell.

Each conversation about salvation or hand-wringing debate about premarital sex was unwitting fodder for Roose’s recently published book: “The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University.”

“As a responsible American citizen, I couldn’t just ignore the fact that there are a lot of Christian college students out there,” said Roose, 21, now a Brown senior. “If I wanted my education to be well-rounded, I had to branch out and include these people that I just really had no exposure to.”

How little exposure?

Roose’s parents, liberal Quakers who once worked for Ralph Nader, were nervous about their son being exposed to Falwell’s views.

See Berg’s Seventh Law; when libs babble about conservative provincialism, they’re projecting.

He was determined to not mock the school, thinking it would be too easy — and unfair. He aimed to immerse himself in the culture, examine what conservative Christians believe and see if he could find some common ground. He had less weighty questions too: How did they spend Friday nights? Did they use Facebook? Did they go on dates? Did they watch “Gossip Girl?”

It wasn’t an easy transition. Premarital sex is an obvious no-no at Liberty. So are smoking and drinking. Cursing is also banned, so he prepared by reading the Christian self-help book, “30 Days to Taming Your Tongue.”

The “Story” involved a lengthy interview with LU founder Jerry Falwell, I wonder what Roose’s parents think about the his conclusion?

Roose said his Liberty experience transformed him in surprising ways.

When he first returned to Brown, he’d be shocked by the sight of a gay couple holding hands — then be shocked at his own reaction. He remains stridently opposed to Falwell’s worldview, but he also came to understand Falwell’s appeal.

Once ambivalent about faith, Roose now prays to God regularly — for his own well-being and on behalf of others. He said he owns several translations of the Bible and has recently been rereading meditations from the letters of John on using love and compassion to solve cultural conflicts.

Perhaps someday they’ll try having a third-rate comic impersonate a caricatured blowhard conservative talking head…

…er,no.  That’d be too stupid.

Seated Incongruous

Victor Davis Hanson has an excellent article about the ironic incongruities of the past year.

He’s got ten. I had to start with this one – on the media’s grotesque double-standard re Sarah Palin and, in this case, Caroline Kennedy:

[Palin] surely didn’t give snap answers on foreign policy matters. In no short order, a woman who had five kids, a 16-year political career, and a successful governorship was reduced to a white-trash hack, the mother of a promiscuous teen, as awful rumors, trafficked in by liberal professionals, swirled about her own most recent pregnancy.

The mainstream media’s narrative was thus that glibness matters, 16 years of Alaskan politics don’t quite cut it for national office, and a candidate’s personal life is fair game, as the moose-hunting ex-mayor of Wasilla and her life-story attest.

OK, it’s easy to make fun of things you don’t understand – and if Chris Matthews or Jon Stewart don’t get hunting, they certainly don’t have the mental kilowattage to know that the Northern accent (made most famous in America by Palin and Frances McDormand in Fargo and not many more) is a dialect, not a sign of stupidity.

These same egalitarians in the media, however, do not seem to have a problem with Caroline Kennedy, soon perhaps to be anointed Senator from New York.

But on the basis of what? Political experience—zero.

Past elections? Zilch.

Eloquence? Nope. Ms. Kennedy drones on with “you know” and “I mean” dozens of times per minute. In comparison, Sarah Palin sounds like Demosthenes or Cicero.

I almost choked on that when I saw the infamous “y’know y’know y’know y’know y’know” video last week. I’ve noted in the past – I give speaker points. Dad was a speech teacher; I was in radio.

Palin, dialect notwithstanding, is an electrifying speaker. Not “fancy” electrifying, but she connects with an audience like very few people anywhere in politics. And Kennedy’s father, John F., was one of the great orators and communicators in American political history, up there with Reagan (and praise gets no higher).

Full disclosure? Hardly. We know nothing about Caroline’s vast fortune—where it exactly came from and how it is used. We learned far more about poor Mr. Palin’s decrepit old prop airplane than Ms. Kennedy’s stock portfolio and past contributions.

Perhaps the difference is good citizenship? I doubt it. Palin ran for offices; Kennedy often passed on voting entirely.

Is it doctrinaire politics? Again, I doubt it. Palin has taken on Republicans in Alaska, entrenched males, and indeed, on matters of energy, her own running mate John McCain.

Kennedy? I don’t think there a liberal dogma or progressive politician she has ever questioned.

Don’t bother them with impedimenta like “consistency with their own alleged beliefs”.

We laugh about Palin’s Idaho work-your-way-through-college sports journalism degree, especially perhaps in comparison to Kennedy’s Ivy League pedigree. But the latter is too often affirmative action for silk-stocking East Coast grandees. Take away money and nomenclature, and I doubt Kennedy would have gotten into such schools on her own merits. I offer such an unsupported generalization on the basis of her elocution: I turned out about 100 classics majors and MA students during 21 years at CSU Fresno, and without exception every single one (mostly poor or minority students without parents who went to college) in interviews sounded far more knowledgeable and grammatical than does Ms. Kennedy.

The irony in all this? Too obvious to state…

There’s much more. Read the whole thing.

The Bottom Of The Class

Hugh Hewitt is a great friend, and was a crucial benefactor behind the launch of the Northern Alliance Radio Network.  He’s one of the five best radio talk show hosts out there.

But if he has one habit that irritates the bejeebers out of me, it’s his constant focus on “credendials” – as if an opinion, story or statement by someone with a BA in History from Northern Arizona is, in and of itself, of less veracity or value than the same one from someone who went to Harvard Law.

That someone gets out of high school and goes to an Ivy League college at 18, and then moves on to an Ivy League post-grad school (especially Law School) at age 22, tells you something.  Yes, it tells you that student is most likely pretty smart. It also tells you that at age 12 or 13, they knew they wanted to focus on getting the kind of grades and prerequisites they needed to get into the Ivy League.  That kind of focus has tradeoffs, just as does the maniacal focus one needs to become a doctor or a professional athlete or a full-time musician; someone who’s that focused on academia during junior high is trading off some other experiences that will be of use in their lives.

Some lefty critics titter about John McCain’s ranking at the Naval Academy, near the bottom of his class.  Of course, most of those critics couldn’t have gotten into the USNA in the first place – but that’s really beside the point.

Because as James Robbins notes in National Review, it’s actually a strength:

Some have suggested that McCain’s low class ranking reflects negatively on his fitness to lead the country. But there is no clear relationship between Academy class rank and leadership qualities. For example, Jimmy Carter, the only Naval Academy graduate to serve as president to date, graduated 59th out of a class of 820, so draw your own conclusions. Seventeen class anchors [people at the very rock bottom of their classes] have attained flag [admiral] rank, and many low-ranking graduates have gone on to brilliant careers. This tracks with the thesis I developed in my book Last in Their Class; the bottom of the class tends to produce a different kind of leader than the top. Those who wind up at the foot are often there by choice. They could do better if they studied, but they would rather trade class ranking for other pursuits. They tend to be the risk takers, the innovators, usually very well liked and in their own way driven. They know how to get into trouble, and more importantly how to get out of it. They also tend to have more than their share of luck.

To them, I suspect, life is a richer, more interesting place, and they are most likely better, more interesting people than they’d be if they’d spent eight years concerned only with banging out A’s.

Which is one of the things that makes ’em leaders.  Robbins notes that 17 “anchors” have gone on to serve as admirals; I’d love to see if that many valedictorians got flags.