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Thursday, October 30, 2014

BEATING ON PALIN

"Now it can be told! Now it can be told! We were scared!"
-Van Jones

I am not a big Sarah Palin fan.  She can give terrific speeches (such as the very well-received and highly viewed 2008 RNC speech she gave) and she can be pretty good with statements.  She's not bad looking, and I admire her willingness to go after her own political party to crush corruption when she was governor.
My problem is that conservatism doesn't seem to come first had to Mrs Palin; she seems to be a bit of a rebel and a politician but not innately conservative in her worldview, so she has to get her ideas from people she trusts or listens to rather than from inside.
In the end, I suspect she's more show than substance, and I never liked the fawing admiration she got for a while from conservatives.  Still, she never deserved the raw, screaming, frothing hatred that she got and continues to get from the left, the entertainment community, and the clueless low info voters who want to be with the cool crowd.
At the time it was pretty obvious what was going on; they needed to obliterate her.  She was a charismatic, attractive, well-spoken woman with a Reaganlike folksy ability to reach the public that the left feared and hated.  She would be too effective.
As I wrote about in my Common Knowledge series, the left pulled out all the stops to wipe her out, and they had good reason to fear her: as soon as she was added to the McCain ticket, he tied with or pulled head of Barack Hussein Obama in polling.
What's interesting, though, is that the line has always been "oh we never were afraid, we were laughing at her!" from the left.  They insisted she was just so ridiculous they had to mock and attack her, not out of fear or concern but just hapless natural mockery.  Obviously this was a blatant lie, since they started it before anyone knew anything about her.  News organizations didn't send far more reporters to Alaska to dig into Palin's background than they committed to Barack Obama out of humor.  They did it out of fear and desperation to find something, anything to stop and destroy her.
Recently, they've admitted it.
Communist and former Obama cabinet official Van Jones recently admitted that on CNN:
Sarah Palin .. people forget. She had the Democratic party shaking in our boots in 2008. She came out, she gave that speech at the convention. That was, hands down, one of the best convention speeches - not by a woman, by anybody in 2008. People were running for the hills.
The reaction by the left was outrageous.  She was a strong woman in politics with a great speaking style and charisma and they treated her like an idiot, a piece of trash, there was no depth too low to dealing with this woman and her family.  
And there was more than fear behind it.  Charles C. W. Cooke writes:
Here, progressive hypocrisy has been utterly breathtaking. Day in and day out, the more trigger-happy feminists within America’s media circus are moved to pen extravagant disquisitions on the nature of sexual inequality if and when a man they dislike so much as looks at them askew. Elsewhere, wholly substantive criticisms of Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton are held up as shining examples of deeply embedded sexism within the United States, and of the subtle, sometimes invisible role that “hatred of women” plays within the country’s political culture. To take potshots at clownish figures such as Lena Dunham, we have learned, is to invite indignant death threats. And yet, when a veritable legion of male comedians elects to use foul, carnal, and, yes, “gendered” language to dismiss Palin and her family, our contemporary Boudiceas shrug at best and offer endorsements at worst. Sarah Palin, as the abominable bumper sticker has it, “isn’t a woman, she’s a Republican.”
That pretty much puts it as clear as it gets: the problem with Sarah Palin is that she wasn't a dutiful obedient drone for the left.  She dared to defy their order, their ranks.  She was off the plantation and had to be destroyed lest other women follow her path.
The comparison between Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin was striking.  Clinton comes across as strident, shrieking, and unpleasant.  She's not a good public speaker, she seems bitter and arrogant, contemptuous toward the people she's forced to deal with.  Sarah Palin comes across as happy, fun, and welcoming.  It wasn't a pleasant comparison, but in 2008 it was inevitable.
And the significance of this isn't so much the political as the cultural, for me.  Whether Palin is done for politics or not, she's representative of the left's approach toward anyone who dares defy their order of things.  If you happen to belong to one of their favored groups and won't go along with their ideology, they hate you more than the white male.
Whether you're hispanic or black or homosexual or female or any other protected group, if you won't go along with the left politically, you're worse than an enemy.  You're a traitor who loses the right to be even called part of that group.  You're not black, you're a conservative Uncle Tom.  You're not a woman, you're a Republic**t.
And this is the worst sort of behavior, its the kind of actions that led people to lynch blacks in the south, burn books in the north, create lampshades out of prisoners in Poland, and burn witches in Scotland.  This is the attitude of the inquisition, this is where the worst in humanity comes out.
This is the epitome of intolerance and hatred of the other.  Its exactly, exactly what the left claims to be opposed and depict their political opponents as being characterized by.
For the left, its open season on someone that betrays their niche identity by daring to think for themselves.  That's why Bill Maher can say such horrific things about the Palin family and get a pass, but when he notes the brutal evil of Islamofascism is hated by the left.  Its why David Letterman gets a laugh and a wink when he jokes about Bristol Palin being raped.  Its why a gubenatorial candidate for Democrats can call his opponent a bitch in a speech and get cheers and laughter, not news and pundit condemnation.
Because as I've noted in the past, the left thinks not just that they are right, but that they are holy and enlightened, and that anyone who varies from this is not just wrong but evil and corrupt.  So they're fair game.  After all, no one cares about mean things said about Pol Pot or John Wayne Gacy.  The presumption of malice and monstrous hate in anyone who varies even a little from the left in political ideology is so ingrained that they simply don't see any wrong in such behavior.  Its totally reasonable!
And again, this is the same sort of argument and attitude used for genocide and evil in the past.  Those Irish aren't even human, who cares what you do to them?  African slaves aren't even human, they're property!  Jews aren't even human, you can do anything you want!  Dehumanize, reduce your opponent to a cartoon, to less than you and everything suddenly becomes okay.
And at the risk of repeating myself too much, that's exactly what the left claims to be opposed to.  Exactly what they do and say is what they accuse their enemies of being.  It makes me dizzy at times trying to keep up with it all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

THE BIG CAMPUS NOOKIE POST

“I am still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of any two intimates in the world agreeing as to ‘why.’”

Something very weird is going on at America's colleges and universities.  No, I'm not referring to their generally leftist tilt and lack of ideological diversity, I'm not talking about their vast expense, or their loading up on administration at the cost of students.  I'm not even talking about how studies have shown that students aren't even getting much of an education at these institutions.
I'm talking about sex.  Now, college campuses have been having "sex weeks" for a while now, and more seem to be adding this to their regular yearly activities.  The idea that college students, bombarded with information and porn on the internet, need a week to learn more about sex is ridiculous of course; the point of these is to attract students and for students hoping to get laid to find someone.
But at the same time as new courses on sexuality and sex weeks and what have you is a sudden trend toward stopping molestation, rape, and abuse on college campuses.  Its everywhere all the sudden, with Mother Jones claiming that rapes will be increased by Global Warming no less, and even the president has made this a high priority, pivoting away from jobs again.  But look at these two graphs:


Those charts show first, the rate of rapes over the last 30 years, which has been on a 20 year decline, and the rate of federal investigations into college handling of sexual violence reports.  See the opposite tangents there?  And the federal chart is just in the last seven months.
The shocking thing, despite the FBI data shown above, is that repeatedly its been claimed that rape rates and sexual assaults are up, that they are skyrocketing, higher than ever, its a horrific crisis!  A student writing at Brown University, home of one of these reports writes:
Newlon and numerous other activists make the bold claim that one in every four college women is a victim of rape or attempted rape. This number is astonishing and no doubt eyebrow-raising. To put it in perspective, in the nation’s most violent city (Detroit), the total violent crime rate was 2.1 percent in 2012. That figure includes murder, rape, assault, and robbery. If the one in four figure shouted at feminist rallies is correct, the nation is willingly sending its daughters to places with a violent crime rate several times that of the most dangerous city in the country.

The number seems even more dubious when compared to statistics put forth annually by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The Bureau interviews a random sampling of nearly 150,000 Americans about their criminal victimization, and in 2009 and 2010 they determined that the occurrence of rape of women was 0.23 percent and 0.21 percent, respectively.
How did these numbers get decided?  Well a few shoddy studies on campus, some people massaging numbers, and a generous helping of fakery.  For example, one of the questions asked if a girl would have had sex with that guy had she not been drinking or using drugs.  A bunch of the girls honestly answered "no if I was thinking straight I'd have never done it" and the person doing the study determined that this was... you guess it, rape.  It doesn't matter that it was completely consensual, it doesn't matter if these girls (who did, at a 35% clip) had sex later with the same guy.  They were raped, according to this study.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

GRIGGS vs DUKE POWER COMPANY

"Qualified minorities who performed well on an intelligence or aptitude test and would have been offered a job directly 30 or 40 years ago are now compelled to attend a college or university for four years and incur significant costs."

You've probably heard of some US Supreme Court cases that have had a significant impact on our lives, and ones that were just awful (Roe vs Wade, Dred Scott v. Sandford, Kelo v. City of New London).  The courts can have immense effect on culture, law, policy, and economics often without meaning to.
Like ripples spreading on a pond, as George Will notes in a column a few years back, a decision can have wide reaching consequences far beyond what was intended or understood at the time.  In theory, justices are to have the wisdom to understand this kind of thing, but they don't always, and sometimes are blinded by their personal viewpoints.
One case you've likely never heard of is Griggs vs Duke Power Company, decided in 1971 in the Warren court.  The backstory is basically this: Duke Power Company required any employee who wanted a promotion beyond a certain point to have a high school diploma and to pass an aptitude test.  Willie Griggs decided the test was racis' and sued along with a group of other black employees who were unable to pass the test and had no diploma.
Duke Power Company pointed out that they provided funding for people to get a GED and that white employees had failed to pass and were not given promotion as well, and courts agreed all along the line... until they got to Chief Justice Warren's leftist-packed Supreme Court.  I'll let Bill McMorris tell the tale:
The Supreme Court wasn’t buying it. This was North Carolina after all. The court compared the tests to Aesop’s fable of the Fox and the Stork, in which a fox offers a dish full of milk to a stork, whose beak prevents it from satisfying its thirst. The implication that black and white workers were of a different species did not strike any of the justices as racist, unlike the objective tests. Griggs found that if blacks failed to meet a standard at a higher rate than whites the standard itself was racist—a legal doctrine known as disparate impact.
That's right, the court ruled that requiring blacks to face the same challenges as other ethnic groups to achieve promotion was racist because... well apparently they thought blacks were somehow incapable of taking the tests, or were innately different as human beings.  Even the civil rights acts of the 1960s specifically stated that tests not designed to be racist or discriminatory were perfectly acceptable for employment standards, but the Supreme Court ordered congress to change that.
So now what were employers to do?  The tests worked - as McMorris points out businesses were just following the military's successes against "the two most efficient peoples known to man" in WW2 and decided they'd use the same system of aptitude testing to place and screen candidates.  It worked, while it was legally possible.
Without testing, businesses turned to colleges and universities to handle it for them.  They reasoned  about this court ruling that these institutions would weed out the less able in a field and pass the more able, so they could use diplomas.  "This is, of course, just one reason why college attendance increased from 5.8 million in 1970 to 17.5 million in 2005," as George Will wrote in 2009.
But it was basically free to take an aptitude test and get a high school diploma.  It costs more than a car to get a college degree.  So poor blacks, the very kind that the Griggs decision was supposed to help, are the very ones that now have a harder time getting and advancing in jobs.  In fact, the GI Bill resulted in only 1 of every 8 vets coming home going to college; the rest were able to use aptitude testing to get into jobs, something no longer possible.  Meanwhile education costs have gone up and up. 
With more people pushed into the university system to get higher paying jobs, combined with massive government programs to help pay the bills, colleges and universities began raising their fees, costs, and rates.  Since Griggs was handed down, the average cost for a college education has gone up 440%, far more than the rate of inflation. 
The Project on Student Debt showed that the average college student today takes out nearly $30,000 in debt, graduating into a job market with an unemployment rate around 20% for their age group.  Some point to a stat showing that unemployment for college graduates is just under 5%, but even during the worst of the Carter years, it was under 2%.
Ive written several times about why those costs have gone up and where that money is going (hint - nearly none of it to education), but with that supreme court decision, businesses have gone from individual testing to just letting colleges handle it.
In the process, colleges and universities changed how they promoted themselves, trying to get more people into their doors.  McMorris again:
By the late 1970s, universities were in crisis mode. The baby boom produced more students than they knew what to do with, but declining birth rates left them with a smaller pool of tuition-paying students. Their new role as the gateway to respectable careers and higher salaries solved that problem. They replaced comprehensive liberal arts education with career-oriented majors that displaced the apprentice, rise-from-the-bottom system that had previously defined the American labor market. Curriculum quality and homework rates plunged, but endowments swelled.

“To keep their mammoth plants financially solvent, many institutions have begun to use hard-sell, Madison Avenue techniques to attract students. They sell college like soap, promoting features they think students want: innovative programs, an environment conducive to meaningful personal relationships, and a curriculum so free that it doesn’t sound like college at all,” academic Caroline Bird noted
Standards have been steadily lowered, educational quality - judging by the difference between Freshmen and graduates - has declined, and costs have gone up.  More than half of new graduates (about 17,000,000 young people) are working in fields that have nothing to do with their degree: getting that diploma doesn't help you get a great job.
And yet businesses today require a diploma even for jobs that have nothing to do with a college education, because they can't use aptitude testing to screen or find gems in their applicants.  But the increased numbers of people getting bachelor's degrees is decreasing its value to employers.  In fact, the need to find work to pay off huge college debt is pushing students into fields they are technically overqualified for:
There are 100,000 postal workers, 317,000 waitresses, and 18,000 parking lot attendants with undergraduate degrees. One out of every four bartenders has a diploma, and though they listen to moping for a living, few majored in psychology. Nearly 6,000 janitors have doctorate degrees.
And every one of those guys is taking a job that someone without qualifications or a degree could have done, but now cannot get.
This kind of decision, meant well, but poorly considered, has had very negative impact on the economy, lives of people, education, and culture.  It was poorly decided (like many of the Supreme Court cases from that time period) to fit an agenda and has had poor impact on the nation.
So if you ever wondered why that management job at the Pizza Shack required a college degree, or why the Personnel department treats any degree at all as better than clear experience and skill in a job well, now you know.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

SOCIAL JUSTICE KITTENS

Bitterness is cancer - it eats upon the host. It doesn't do anything to the object of its displeasure.
-Maya Angelou

Over at American Digest I saw a strange and humorous, yet miserable sight recently.  It is of a real calendar that you can order from SquareUp called the Social Justice Kittens Calendar.  It is a series of adorable pictures of kittens coupled with social justice statements and quotes.
I cannot tell if this is meant to be ironic, satirical, or is a serious product, but I'm leaning toward satire.  Each picture has quotes on it like this (some are Not Safe For Work and contain foul language):

The sentiments put in these calendar pictures are the sort that certain classes in some colleges and universities will promote and professors will say, even unrelated to the topic at hand.  And they seem extreme but I've read these quotes or things like them from people who are not saying them as a joke, but with absolute earnest and honesty.
The bitterness, anger, and even hate that radiates from them is shocking to me.  "This conversation doesn't make me feel safe" is genuine, actual college speak, in the "microaggressions" school of thought.  The purpose is to silence speech that the listener does not care for or that threatens their worldview.
They care nothing for liberty, or truth, or honesty, they do not want a world where people interact and learn from each other, they want nothing save a continual, comforting womb of support and confirmation of their worldview.  And they're more than willing to crush anyone or anything that threatens this.
This attitude might be a byproduct of the bubble wrap children, who were raised so carefully, protected, and supported that they never encountered anything that challenged or made them question themselves.  It might be a subversive method of silencing speech and dissent from a political agenda that cannot survive rational discussion.  It might be the result of a psychosis that cannot abide being questioned.  It might be a combination of some or all of those things.
Certainly it is uncomfortable, even frightening when someone challenges your presumptions in a convincing and rational manner.  Nobody welcomes being wrong, particularly on deeply held presumptions about life and belief. 
For as long as there has been human life on earth, there have been a majority who never even consider their worldview, only live it out.  And among those people have always been some who find any doubt terrifying and intolerable, people who have great certainty only because they refuse to consider or even listen to an alternate viewpoint.
This is no bastion of the left or right, or any other political persuasion.  It is a human characteristic to one degree or another to reject things that trouble, threaten, or weaken our resolve.  Some in any group are like this.
What's most troubling to me is that the loudest, most insistent, and most publicly conspicuous of this group are those who at the same time insist that they are lovers of liberty and will not tolerate intolerance.
And yet here we are, in the 21st century, where academics have churned out an entire system designed to do exactly the opposite of what academia is meant to be: silence any debate, questioning, or interaction that in any way threatens one specific certain viewpoint.  And its done with passive-aggressive behavior taken to an astounding depth of creativity and precision.
These are the chocolate sipping onesie boys of the world, who emote without thought and cringe at perceived aggressions by people who challenge their certainties.  Brutality, bullying, rape, they cry.  And in a polite society, their approach tends to shut down any talk.
Its the flip side of the Online Forum Effect where there is a tourettes-like tendency of some to bring up in any conversation and any occasion their pet political viewpoints.  They do it loudly and angrily, and become so unpleasant that everyone around them learns to just shut up about some topics in the hopes that they won't provoke another episode that ruins everything for everyone.
And in the process, they win by silencing any dissent or alternate viewpoint.  By not allowing anyone to gainsay or question their absolute certainty on a topic, all that everyone is left with is their regular outbursts on every subject.
And in time, that wears down all but the most strong of wills by the Big Lie. After all, I don't hear anyone disagreeing with them or showing how they are wrong, and they wouldn't be so very strong and insistent about this if it wasn't at least somewhat true.  They aren't crazy or lying all the time, nobody would do that...
And until this changes, until this atmosphere at institutions of higher learning changes, until this approach toward academia and culture is different, then the entire exercise of education is pointless.  How can you expect anyone to get an honest, valuable education in this kind of atmosphere?  What kind of worldview and what sort of behavior is being inculcated by this kind of attitude?  Nothing healthy.