Today there have been many observances and rembrances of the explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon that killed three, injured over 260, and blew the limbs off 16 of them. People were gathered at these planned events to celebrate their “show of defiance and resilience” in the face of this tragedy. NPR this morning assured us that nowhere would the source and purpose of this disaster be mentioned. It was to be a focused and positive city-wide celebration of healing, of how tough the citizens of Boston could be when confronted by such unstoppable natural disasters.
On this day we will not revisit the real cause of those explosions; neither will we examine the event’s larger context. We will not speak of the global terror that radical Islam spawns. We will not speak of the constant killings that are committed in the name of that religion, and the cultures it grounds worldwide (14apr14 Abujah, Nigeria – 71 killed, 124 wounded). We will not speak of the ignorance and hate that are taught in its madrassas. We will not speak of its age old and ongoing treatment of women as sexual and reproductive chattel. We will simply think of such occasions of medieval murder and mayhem as we would of any other incomprehensible act of God. And there we will be in complete agreement with the Islamists, because they too believe they are carrying out acts of God.
That we no longer nurture or care for our own beliefs may be the surest sign that our culture has no beliefs to care for and defend.
The low cognitive reach of today’s journalists in intellect, knowledge base, and command of English is well recognized. But more and more of their deficits in reasoning and research are making themselves felt as they fall behind in their role as our society’s watchdogs. Three examples will illustrate.
Gov Christie’s ‘Bridgegate’ is not going away. In fact, it’s even hotter than ever now that a defense lawyer has claimed “evidence” which points to Christie knowing about the traffic jam while it was going on. Christie’s claim of ignorance on the matter clearly pointed to the notion that his office had nothing to do with causing the huge back-up. Everybody in NJ, most likely including the governor, knew about the jam because it was reported on every 6pm newscast, but that is not the issue. An attorney representing resigned Port Authority administrator David Wildstein was quoted, “Evidence exists tying Mr Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly.” And that is the basis for the firestorm in the lamestream.
That quote is supposed to be the smoking gun that ties Christie to being complicit in ordering and/or condoning the lane closures while they were going on. But being complicit/condoning is the culpable, yet totally separate part from being aware, along with millions, that there was an ongoing traffic jam. Yet no sharp-witted journalist has been able to draw the distinction. The first hint of media recognition of these two orthogonal concepts finally came from Charles Krauthammer and an AP reporter on Fox News’ Special Report. And even then it did not solicit the obvious and required follow-on explanation and expansion from our Fourth Estate, even though Christie’s staff pointed out that the quote did NOTHING to connect a complicit Christie to the event. The loudly and oft broadcast faulty logic was supposed to carry the day against Christie’s 2016 candidacy, and so far it has. Even the hailed and usually meticulous WSJ has yet to pick up on the implied fallacy.
Let’s get back to income inequality (also here). The lamestream’s latest entry into our larder of common wisdom is that income inequality is caused by greedy capitalists taking away good paying jobs from the people and leaving behind scrabble for paychecks and growing unemployment, as they enrich their enterprises and themselves. No one in the reporter regiments has even thought to question the huge social changes that have taken place in the interval during which the cited inequalities came into being.
In a forthcoming and very technical report by Jeremy Greenwood et al the evidence is presented to buttress the plausible cause that income inequality arose because women got educated and entered the workforce to climb up corporate ladders and create households with two extremely high wage earners. While at the same time government came up with ever more regulations against job creation and rewards for not working, let alone being married to one who does work. Greenwood and co-authors show that removing the cause (many more smart women entering workforce) by eliminating these cultural changes would make the income inequality disappear.
If you think that the lamestream would send anyone except their crack corps of crickets to cover this little bombshell while Obama is playing the Elmer Gantry of Social Justice to national audiences, you’d be sadly mistaken, but hopefully not surprised. (more here)
Finally, we revisit that now notorious letter by KPCB co-founder Tom Perkins (reported here). In the interval, this letter has drawn the predictable outrage in the media from the usual crowd of light thinkers. The rage revolves around ‘How could Perkins compare today’s demonizing of the rich in America to Kristallnacht and the Holocaust?’
None of our contingent of progressive readers appear to have understood the difference between making a comparison between harbingers to potential atrocities, and equating a latter day harbinger to an historical atrocity. And the connection was made more egregious by using the Holocaust as the atrocity that has now been set aside only for Leftwing use in remembrances, admonitions, and accusations for currency in the formulation of public policies. All other uses would somehow “cheapen and coarsen by facile comparisons” the horrific and indelible dimension of those years in Nazi Germany. (I did agree that the real comparison should have been to Stalin’s genocide of the kulaks, or better, to Mao’s ultimate slaughter during the Cultural Revolution. Why go with second rate mass murders?) Again, no reporter has had the wits to point out the obvious chasm in the critics’ reasoning.
It sure looks like most journalists are standing right behind lawyers in their rush to join the world’s oldest profession.
O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us! Robert Burns
RR reader and indefatigable champion of all things progressive, Mr Ben Emery, posted a link under 'So You Wanna College Degree?' to a video that he advises is the progressives' viewpoint on the dumbing down of America, a persistent topic in these pages. The video – ‘Dumbing Down America For Political Gain’ – features a conversation between an obviously very progressive correspondent/host and his guest, a lawyer who is in violent agreement with everything posited. It is a must see interview for all conservatives harboring the hope that 21st century America is still located on one planet.
Among the axiomatic truths floated is that the US public education system has been and is under the control of moneyed conservatives who have destroyed the nation’s ability to transmit knowledge to the next generation. Why have they done such a dastardly thing? Why, to expand the legions of hamburger flippers and other low-wage workers, so that America can successfully compete with third world workers in making things like tennis shoes - in short, to bring such profit making enterprises back to these shores where presumed margins would be higher.
And to achieve that goal requires that fewer people go to college to learn all those critical thinking skills that higher education in the humanities teaches people. In the process the conservatives have created a cadre of unedjicated and compliant voters who will maintain and expand the power of the greedy capitalists. The objective here is that the conservatives want to minimize the number of liberal voters in the country, the voters who represent the real intellectual capital of America.
You can’t make this stuff up, it is what they sincerely believe. Thank you Mr Emery!
I am a child, student, and defender of Western civilization.
Today I mourn. Stanford JD Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute informs us all how ‘The Humanities Have Forgotten Their Humanity’. I mourn more deeply because it is at my alma mater where the coup de grace is being delivered. UCLA has been the home of one of the nation’s flagship departments of English, but that has come to an end with a progressive and narcissistic turn of curriculum that today requires its majors to study not one whit of great English literature from the likes of Shakespeare, Chaucer, or Milton. Instead, the students will now be exposed to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”
MacDonald confirms that in present day humanities “the contemporary academic wants only to study oppression, preferable his or her own, defined reductively according to gonads and melanin.” Displacing the classics will be the mandate that UCLA English majors instead will take three courses from the areas of –
- Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies; - Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; - Genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; - Creative writing.
News Item – Next year commercial talk radio of the liberal bent is slated to completely collapse in the remaining major media markets of New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The problem is that the audiences for such content are miniscule and diminishing. Leftwing talk radio survives on non-profit outlets such as NPR which are funded through government grants and private donations. (More here, here, and here)
Now anyone who has been a longtime resident of Earth will not be surprised by this news, even though its dissemination has never been a high priority item on the nation’s lamestream outlets. The question worth considering once more is why such talk radio cannot get purchase in commercial markets, why are so few people listening to the collectivist side of the political spectrum when a large and growing number are listening to conservative and libertarian commentators.
To people like me, the answers are simple and straightforward. These answers are also totally rejected by progressives who respond to the asymmetry by their continuing attempts to shut down commercial rightwing talk radio on public airwaves (and now also on private channels) based on sinister yet hilarious arguments of ‘fairness’ and ‘balance’ that completely beg the question of why audiences differ in their preferences for such contents.
‘A Future of Failure?: The Flow of Technology Talent into Government and Civil Society’ was just published by Freedman Consulting, a progressive policy consultancy run by former staffers of Democrat administrations. This important report was sponsored by the MacArthur and Ford Foundations, organizations that are much in tune with leftwing causes and central planning. It recognizes failures – most notably healthcare.gov - by all levels of government to understand, incorporate, and operate systems that have a high technology component.
The report is timely, given what has happen and what portends for Americans as the federal government continues to stumble and bumble in such efforts to inject themselves more and more into our lives and fortunes. Through extensive interviews with government and “civil society” (i.e. NGOs and non-profits) officials and management, the authors conclude that governments are woefully lacking in STEMM (they add ‘medicine’ for the extra ‘M’) knowledge and expertise. RR readers will not be surprised by any of the factual aspects and even most of the conclusions in the report.
RR has been preaching for years the importance of education for our country’s continued prosperity, security, and its envied quality of life. Researchers and academics like Niall Ferguson have warned us that our public education system long ago reverted from operating for the benefit of the student to the benefit of education workers, especially those represented by the big teachers unions abetted by progressive legislators and academics across the land. The result has been a steady decline in the performance of America’s schools and its students, especially as they compare with their peers worldwide.
The detrimental impacts of this national dumbing down are apparent in our workforce skill levels, cultural degradation, economic/fiscal understanding, political ignorance/indifference, and overall literacy/numeracy. Today this downward spiral continues as reported in the just released results of the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). From the nearby figure (click then zoom) we see the big picture. In more detail, “the U.S. slipped from 25th to 31st in math since 2009; from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th to 21st in reading, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which gathers and analyzes the data in the U.S.” (more here)
PISA exams are arguably the best tests available in that they measure “whether students can apply (their) knowledge to real-life problems.” (Here in Nevada County SESF’s annual TechTest is designed on the same principle, and therefore challenges students in a manner that is absent in their normal classrooms.) It is that ability to transfer the use of classroom tools that most effectively motivates and measures a student’s critical thinking and problem solving abilities.
But our highest level government officials still don’t get what is happening. Witness SecEduc Arne Duncan, to him these results are a “picture of educational stagnation” that is “at odds with our aspiration to have the best educated, most competitive work force in the world.” Stagnation, my a$$! The sumbich doesn’t even know what stagnation means. Our nation’s intellectual capital is measurably deteriorating, not stagnating, and you can see how excited he gets when he soberly rolls out a mealy-mouthed assessment that all this is “at odds with our aspiration …” No kidding!
Instead, the alarm bells should have been ringing nationwide for some time now, exhorting us to try all kinds of different approaches to educating our kids. Instead, the union led teachers continue to oppose charter schools, parochial schools, home schooling, vouchers, parental choice, industrial strength curricula, vocational course education, … . The only solutions offered from these agenda driven sclerotic bureaucrats are demands for more money, more regulatory and administrative burden, less homework, politically correct learning environments, …, their list of ineffective and harmful nostrums is endless.
In spite of all this, ‘educational experts’ want us to temper our interpretation of these results by taking into consideration the diversity of America’s cultures, socio-economic conditions, and racial composition. I don’t know where they want us to go with this admonition except perhaps in circles, because the obvious interpretations and resultant remedies are not acceptable to progressives or the liberal mind. Meanwhile, America's fundamental transformation continues as our leftwing politicians raise the banners of class warfare, and seek ever greater wealth transfer programs to pay their constituents more for knowing and doing less.
For decades we have seen those yellow diamond shaped signs in the back windows of cars admonishing us to ‘Drive Carefully, Baby Aboard’. Years ago as a young father, I puzzled over the first such sign that I spied. Its message was clear, ‘this car is transporting a human whose life is worth more than that of the run-of-mill human life, therefore extra effort should be made to preserve it’. I recall that a moment’s reflection made me say to myself, no it ain’t. A couple of thoughts later I concluded that in the larger scheme of things that baby’s life is worth less than the run-of-mill lives we all encounter in the daily round, including our own.
Most certainly that conclusion is true if we consider the baby’s ‘replacement value’ – you can make a new one in nine months – or its worth to society in the investment made, or the investment still required to civilize the little guy and educate him to productivity.
In my way of reasoning, I thought a more appropriate sign in the back window should read ‘Drive Carefully, A STEM Worker Aboard’, or ‘…, An Established Taxpayer Aboard’, or something similar. It was clear to me that of all the other more demonstrably accomplished lives driving down a crowded freeway, the babies strapped into their car seats represented the least valuable expressions of humanity when viewed from the larger perspective of a community or society in general.