Sunday, March 4, 2018

Trump's Tariffs - Is It Remotely Possible That The Establishment Elite Media Talking Heads (a.k.a. WSJ) Predicting Economic Disaster Could Yet Again Be Wrong?

Salvatore Babones - Associate professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney.

When U.S. president Donald Trump announced sweeping new tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum Thursday, the world’s commentariat broke out in a frenzy of condemnation. Trump was accused of playing politics in a way that could “destabilize the global economy.” It was said that Trump’s actions could “bring global trade growth to a halt” (notwithstanding the fact that levels of global trade have already been declining since 2011). His critics screamed “trade war.” Canadian and European leaders immediately threatened retaliation. China didn’t, but American China experts predicted that Beijing soon would.
It is likely that few, if any, of these experts have read the two detailed Commerce Department reports that prompted the tariff decision, or the Defense Department memo endorsing their findings. The goal of the tariffs proposed by Commerce and endorsed by the president isn’t to punish Chinese dumping or put an end to free trade. It’s to ensure that the United States retains any domestic steel and aluminum production at all. Like President Barack Obama’s controversial auto industry bailout in 2009, these tariffs are about keeping an industry for the future, not about making it profitable today.
If China has merely expressed concern over Trump’s plans, it’s because China is not really the target of the planned tariffs. China’s massive state-owned steel and aluminum firms may ultimately lie behind the world’s glutted markets, but Chinese products account for only a fraction of U.S. imports (2.2 percent for steel and 10.6 percent for aluminum). The real problem is that other countries—including allies like Canada and the European Union—have responded to years of Chinese dumping by subsidizing their own industries and imposing broad tariffs on Chinese steel. American antidumping measures have traditionally been more narrowly focused. In a sense, Trump is only catching up with what the rest of the world is doing already.
The simple fact is that the world produces much more steel and aluminum than it needs. A global shakeout is inevitable, and every country wants to make sure that its own industries are the ones that survive. The only question is: who will blink first? If one country has done a lot of blinking over the last twenty years, it’s the United States, as the Commerce Department report amply documents. Embracing a free-market approach, being reluctant to provide subsidies, applying very selective tariffs and never even thinking about nationalizing its strategic industries, the United States has consistently ceded market share to its statist rivals overseas. The Trump tariffs bluntly but effectively draw a line under twenty years of creeping retreat.
In its evaluation of the Commerce Department reports, the Defense Department flatly concluded that “the systematic use of unfair trade practices to intentionally erode our innovation and manufacturing industrial base poses a risk to our national security” and agreed with the Commerce Department’s conclusion “that imports of foreign steel and aluminum based on unfair trading practices impair the national security.” Of the three national-security responses offered by Commerce, DoD preferred the second option, targeted tariffs, over the first (global tariffs) and third (global quotas). But that’s a question of strategy, not principle.
The DoD is, obviously, a military organization, not an economic one. It is “concerned about the negative impact on our key allies” of a broad, uniform tariff. So the DoD prefers targeted tariffs on countries that, except for South Korea, are not U.S. allies. But as the DoD memo admits, targeted tariffs raise complicated enforcement challenges due to the international transshipment of steel and other jurisdiction-shifting exercises. The Commerce report estimated that targeted tariffs would have to be at least 53 percent on steel and 23.6 percent on aluminum to be effective. Trump’s flat tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent would be easier to implement and harder to avoid.
A single, global tariff also sends a simple, universally understood message that this time, the United States is not going to blink first. This dispute is not about the World Trade Organization, playing by the rules, commitment to globalization or the much-hyped international liberal order. It’s about the fact that some countries are going to have to give up their steel and aluminum industries. The United States should not be one of them. Countries that have historically made high steel and aluminum output a matter of national policy should act responsibly to dismantle their bloated industrial bases. Until they do (and there are no signs that they will), the U.S. government should act to ensure a fair price for those few American producers that remain.
Salvatore Babones is an associate professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Progressive Logic - Who Needs Guns?

Daily Signal
Why does the left oppose allowing a small number of highly trained teachers and other adults who work at schools to arm themselves?
When asked, its response is consistent: “It’s a crazy idea.” And, “We need fewer guns, not more guns.”
A New York Times editorial offered the following argument against having any armed teachers:
Nationwide statistics on police shooting accuracy are not to be found. But if New York is typical, analyses show that its officers hit their targets only one-third of the time. And during gunfights, when the adrenaline is really pumping, that accuracy can drop to as low as 13 percent. --------But that is an argument against armed teachers, why isn’t it an argument against armed police?
And that argument was Aristotelian compared to this one from a Los Angeles Times editorial: “If a pistol-strapping chemistry teacher had grabbed her .45 and unloaded on today’s gunman after he killed, what, one student? Three? Five? That would be good news?”
Of course, no murder is “good news.” But to most of us, one or three or five as compared with 17 murdered is good news. Only those who think it isn’t good news think permitting some teachers and other school staff to be armed is a bad idea.
Beyond such arguments, the left rarely, if ever, explains why allowing some teachers and other adults in a school to be armed is a crazy idea. It merely asserts it as a self-evident truth.
But, of course, it’s not a self-evident truth. On the contrary, having some adults who work at schools be trained in the responsible use of guns makes so much sense that the left’s blanket opposition seems puzzling.
It shouldn’t be. On the question of taking up arms against evil, the left is very consistent.
The left almost always opposes fighting evil and almost always works to disarm the good who want to fight.
This is as true on the national level as it is on the personal.
Those old enough to remember the Cold War will remember that the left constantly called for a “nuclear freeze,” including a unilateral freeze by Western countries. Likewise, the European left mounted huge demonstrations against America bringing Pershing II missiles into Western Europe.
No matter how violent the Soviet Union was, the left always opposed a strong Western military.
The left mocked then-President Ronald Reagan’s call for an anti-ballistic missile defense system; it couldn’t understand why Americans would think being able to protect America from incoming ballistic missiles was a good and moral idea. The left so effectively derided the idea, mockingly dubbing it “Star Wars,” that few knew its real name: the Strategic Defense Initiative.
So, too, the left universally condemns Israeli attacks on those who seek not merely to defeat Israel but to exterminate it. The left around the world condemned Israel’s military responses to Hamas launching missiles at Israeli civilian targets. They declared Israel’s counterattacks “disproportionate”—because more Gazans were killed than Israelis.
Never mind which party was the aggressor or which party targeted civilians. Had the left been as active in the 1940s, it surely would have condemned the Allies for their bombing of Germany and Japan; after all, far more German and Japanese civilians were killed in Allied bombing raids than Allied civilians were killed in German bombing raids. Now that was really “disproportionate.”
Fighting evil is the left’s Achilles heel. As I have repeatedly noted, the left fights little evils, or even non-evils, rather than great evils.
With regard to fighting communism in the 20th century and today fighting radical Islamic terror and Islamist treatment of women, the Stalinist North Korean regime, the Holocaust-denying and Holocaust-planning theocracy of Iran, the Syrian mass murderers, and the violent crime in America, the left is either silent or appeasing.
And, of course, it works constantly to weaken the American military, the world’s greatest force against evil.
But the left does direct its fighting spirit against Confederate statues, schools with the name of slave owners (including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson), carbon emissions, income inequality, “microaggressions,” “white privilege,” any limitation on abortion, Columbus Day, “Islamophobia,” Israeli settlements, “Russian collusion,” and the like. Against these minimal or nonexistent evils, the left is ferocious.
That is why the left opposes enabling some teachers and other adults in schools to carry arms in order to possibly stop a mass murderer: The left doesn’t fight evil; it fights those who do.
Just as the left hated anti-communists, hates opponents of Islamism, and hates Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (far more than the Iranian ayatollahs), it hates those who wish to see teachers and others voluntarily armed take down the murderers of our children.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Common Sense

To each is given a box of tools, a soul to save, and a set of rules.

And each must fashion, 'ere life has flown, a stumbling block - or a stepping stone.

COMMON SENSE: In America, kids have been going to school since the Pilgrims and Puritans settled in Massachusetts nearly four hundred years ago, and guns have always been part of our culture. If weapons are the problem, then why hasn't there been shootings in schools since the beginning? Why is this a recent phenomenon of the past quarter century and not a consistent problem throughout our history?

The answer is simple, but our politically-correct Progressive leaders do not want to hear it. From the 1620s forward, schools inculcated the virtues of patriotism, moral rectitude, and American exceptionalism into students. It was foundational to our entire educational system, and all of this was based on the value of the Judeo-Christian ethic. It worked well for more than three-and-a-half centuries, as evidenced by the fact that there were never mass shootings at schools until recently.

In the twenty-first century, the Judeo-Christian model is no longer taught. In fact, it is being repudiated daily in favor of Progressive values that eschew patriotism, mock traditional morality, and repudiate the value of American leadership. More than half of Millennials are ashamed of being an American, which is a complete reversal from what earlier generations of kids believed.

We are producing disconnected, alienated kids by the millions, while simultaneously being clueless about why they are so narcissistic. We have created an entire generation of self-serving brats who have few work skills but believe they are entitled to wealth without earning it The ones that aren't drugged up have no coping skills, while those who are drugged up live in a perpetual fog.

Because we are unable, or unwilling, to place the blame where it belongs—on our flawed and broken educational system—we blame guns instead. The fools in our Progressive media insist that the problem will be solved by disarming Americans, but that will only make it worse. Instead, what we need to do is return to the model that worked for centuries, but that's not going to happen—not unless there is a complete transformation of our societal values. Christians have a word for this—repentance, but repentance requires virtues the Progressives do not possess.

I have painted a bleak picture because our future will be bleak without such a transformation.

Monday, January 22, 2018

We Are A Nation of Immigrants --American Exceptionalism At Work!! ---- But, No Doubt The System is Broken

Victor Davis Hanson

Broken for whom exactly? Not for Mexico and Latin America. Together they garner $50 billion in annual remittances. The majority of such transfers are likely sent from illegal aliens.
Some of that largess is also subsidized by the entitlements American taxpayers pay that free up this disposable cash for sending abroad. In the eyes of Mexico and Latin America, the only thing that would make our system appear “broken” would be enforcing existing U.S. immigration law.
Or perhaps “broken” would be defined as novel ways of paying for Trump’s wall—by either taxing remittances or so discouraging illegal immigration that a reduction of dollar outflows could be counted (at least rhetorically) as down payments on border construction.
The immigration system is also clearly not broken for the Democratic Party. It has turned California blue. It soon will do the same to Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico, and someday may flip Arizona and Texas.
If the statist, redistributionist, and identity politics principles of the Democrats no longer appeal to 51 percent of the electorate, then why would they give up on the annual investment in nearly hundreds of thousands of new arrivals that by some means, and in the not too distant future, would translate into loyal, politically predictable voters for whom this approach to politics is second nature?

Employers believe the system is anything but broken. Any good news for the country about skyrocketing minority employment numbers is likely to be bad news for them if it means declining numbers of cheaper illegal aliens to hire. Open borders have ensured the hiring of industrious workers at cheap wages while passing on the accruing health, educational, legal, and criminal justice costs to the taxpayer. The present system is “working” well enough for this crowd; its possible replacement instead would be defined as “broken.”

Ethnic tribunes support illegal immigration. If the border were closed and the melting pot allowed to work, the façade of identity politics would vanish in a generation. Recently added accents would be dropped. Hyphenated names would disappear. Trilled r’s would become rare. La Raza/Chicano/Latino Studies programs would become about as popular as Basque or Portuguese. If immigrants from Mexico came in measured numbers, legally, with high-school diplomas, and along with diverse immigrants from all over the world, then rapid assimilation and integration would soon render them politically individuals, not tribes. Someone like California Senate Leader Kevin de León (born Kevin Alexander Leon) would never have needed a preposition and an accent mark.

Broken? More likely, most welcomed.

Illegal aliens, of course, believe the present system is working well, at least compared to the possible alternatives. Legal applicants, still faithfully believing in a now-nonexistent system, wait in line. Those south of the border simply cross.

The moment Mexican citizens—unlike Poles, Australians, or Koreans—reach American soil they or their children, in theory, will become categorized as a minority eligible for government affirmative action and preferred hiring. It is as if Los Angeles or Reno had something to do with the centuries-long racial oppression by an ethnically Spanish-legacy elite 500 miles south of the border.
American elites welcome illegal immigration, both for the cheap labor and for the opportunity to virtue signal their magnanimity, perhaps as much as they seem rarely to live adjacent to the barrio or keep their children in schools that are impacted by immigrants, and or shop where English is rarely spoken.
In sum, the system is working for everyone. It is broken only for the naïfs who worry over the long-term consequences of rendering the law null and void, and of ceding our culture to arriving populations for the most part not yet accustomed to the habits that sustain personal and political freedom.

But the “Dreamers”!

There are 700,000-800,000 DACA recipients, though no one knows the exact numbers. Nor is there a clear definition of who constitutes the population of the “Dreamers,” other than arriving into the United States illegally as a minor. It is an ossified concept, one frozen in amber, given that the average age of a so-called “Dreamer” around 25. When a Dreamer reaches 40, is he still defined as a Dreamer? Or have his “dreams” already come true?

Naturally, minors should not be penalized for the transgressions of their parents. But a large percentage of the DACA cohort is now six or more years into adulthood. Yet upon turning 18 apparently, most have made little effort to obtain either green cards or citizenship.

College graduation and military service are often referenced as DACA talking points. In truth, some studies suggest that just one in 20 dreamers graduated from college. One in a 1,000 has served in the military. So far, about eight times more Dreamers have not graduated from high school than have graduated from college.
Dreamers represent less than 10 percent of all illegal aliens residing in the United States. They are also a fraction of the ignored millions of foreign students from all over the world who seek, often in vain, to study in the United States or are skilled applicants for green cards. Such depressing statistics about DACA might not matter—if supporters of open borders did not always cite incomplete or misleading data.

Weaponizing the Language

Most of the vocabulary surrounding illegal immigration is both politicized and weaponized—as we have seen with “Dreamers.”

Illegal immigration is conflated with legal immigration in order to smear critics with charges of biases against the “other” rather than of simply expressing concerns over legality and sovereignty. By progressive prepping of the linguistic battlefield, some conservatives feel a continued need to “prove” they are not racists by granting more and more exemptions from immigration laws.

“Sanctuary cities” are not “sanctuaries” in the manner we think of a cathedral in a Victor Hugo novel. They are nullification centers where foreign nationals who have broken laws are not subject to full enforcement of immigration laws, due entirely to political considerations.

“Sanctuary city” is not an abstract philosophical term. None of the current sanctuary cities would agree in principle with other jurisdictions in similar fashion nullifying federal laws that advanced left-wing policy objectives. The sobriquet is a euphemism for 1850s-style proto-Confederate, states-rights chauvinism, dressed up similarly in pseudo-moralistic terms.

“Undocumented immigrant” suggests that the problem is a matter of forgetting to bring legal documents, rather than a decision to ignore the need for legal authorization. To become “un-documented” one might first have had to become “documented.” Yet almost no illegal aliens ever were registered as immigrant applicants.

“Undocumented” replaced the adjective “illegal,” just as “immigrant” (and increasingly just “migrant”) superseded the noun “alien.” That is, when the Democratic Party realized that swelling Latino populations began to vote en masse and could salvage what its failing message could not.

At that point, around 2010 or so, the old Democratic and progressive admonitions about illegal immigration cutting the wages of the poor, impeding unionization, and siphoning away social welfare entitlements from the citizen poor were finally and completely jettisoned (along with the language once used by Jimmy Carter and the Clintons). Euphemisms replaced descriptive vocabulary in efforts to construct a new reality.

“Diversity” is often associated with illegal immigration. In fact, the majority of illegal immigrants come from Latin American and Mexico. They are hardly diverse. Real diversity would be recalibrating immigration to be legal, meritocratic, and aimed at roughly equal representation from Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe—and thus politically unpredictable.

Political Epithets: Racism and Xenophobia

The cargo of illiberal accusations is likewise constructed, given the United States is the most pro-Latino country in the world, Mexico included. Half of all immigrants, both legal and illegal, come either from Mexico or Latin America—a sort of inverse racism that assumes illegal Spanish-speaking immigrants are intrinsically more deserving of U.S. residence than legal immigration applicants from Uganda, South Korea, or Ukraine.

The constitution of Mexico carefully delineates all sorts of offices that are not open to naturalized citizens. It lists a variety of immigration offenses that result in automatic deportation or imprisonment—the constant theme being Mexico wants skilled immigrants who can help Mexico (consistent with its constitutional prohibitions against any immigration that might adversely affect “the equilibrium of the national demographics”).

What is also not diverse is Mexico and Latin America. The vast majorities of the population there share roughly similar ethnic heritages and a common language and religion; small numbers of minorities such as blacks are treated as second-class citizens.

Strange, too, are the outward theatrics and themes of illegal alien activism—the frequent waving of Mexican flags, the often loud criticism of a generous host country, the usual demands made upon a foreign nation—mysteriously coupled with the overwhelming desire of millions to enter or remain in the supposedly demonic United States. Waving a flag of a country that one does not wish to return to while shunning the flag of a country in which one very much wishes to reside is incoherent.

What is humane and progressive is defining people by the content of their character rather than by their superficial appearance or ethnic affinities—a notion contrary to the engine of identity politics. Finally, many ethnic activists are accepting that reality. Why otherwise would the National Council of La Raza belatedly at last drop the nomenclature of “The Race” shortly after the 2016 election to become UnidosUS (“us united”)?
Is America Great or Not?

The entire image of the United States has been smeared in most discussions of illegal immigration.
The thrust of ethnic studies departments, the narratives of open borders activists, the pageantry and symbolism of mass immigration demonstrations, and the chauvinism embedded into popular culture is mostly couched in implicit anti-Americanism. At least we are led to believe that a culpable America has done wrong in the present and the past, and has to restore its morality by allowing open borders and illegal immigration. But who are the arbiters of American ethics? Vicente Fox? MS-13 gang-bangers? Those whose first act in entering America was to break its laws?

Millions are fleeing paradigms that they apparently judged as wanting, either politically, economically, or socially, or all that and more. Why, then, would foreign nationals have ceased romanticizing their new generous hosts upon their arrival and begun idealizing, instead, their rejected birthplace? And if these are their true feelings on the matter, why did they leave?
Second, there rarely is expressed any formal analysis of why one wishes to enter the United States and leave one’s home country.

What, then, exactly makes a naturally rich Mexico rather poor and naturally poor New Mexico rather rich? Why is Venezuela a mess and Colorado is not? Has anyone prohibited Mexico from reformatting its constitution to ensure an independent judiciary, the rule of law, a free-market economy, the protection and free sale of private property, a bill of rights, unfettered free speech, a meritocratic civil service, transparency in law enforcement, and an ethnically blind culture?

The question is not just mindless American boosterism. In the past, immigrants accepted that they had left Ireland, Italy, or Poland because habits, customs, and government in their home countries were deemed wanting and unworkable, and therefore it was necessary to embrace their antitheses in the United States. It would have made no sense to flee from Italy and expect to live life in America on the premises that an Italian lived in Italy. Immigration, again brutally or not, is a complex two-step hard bargain that succeeds only when one accepts his chosen country—and de facto rejects the collective protocols of his birthplace.

Why do these mythologies abound? Largely because Americans, the hosts, either cannot anymore even define their own civilization to would-be immigrants, or are so intimidated that they are terrified to even try.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Judge Thomas - A 'Diverse' Perspective

Ginny Thomas The Daily Caller
From a life that launched from economic deprivation, illiteracy, family dysfunction, and even time as a radical leftist, his accomplishments now reach to the U.S. Supreme Court—where he faces constant vilification and defamation. He says he learned the value of humility, patience, and persistence, but the bedrock of his rules for living came from simple aphorisms from his illiterate grandfather.
At a young age, he learned how to build bridges and find something in common with other people, be it sports, a hobby, religion or experiences, rather than focusing on differences and divisions. “Everyone has inherent value and is worth listening to,” he believes.
Looking back, he credits divine providence for path of his life. From the burning of a house, to being raised by his grandparents, to the nuns who taught in Savannah’s inner city, to attending the seminary and to getting his first job with Missouri A
Attorney General Jack Danforth, who was interviewing at Yale. Nothing could have foreseen his sitting on the Supreme Court today.
Faith, he says, gives him “the strength to do what I have to do every day, to assert the independence, to be willing to take the beatings, the criticism, the unfairness.” When he attends daily mass, he says, it helps him do his “job, a secular job, in the right way and for the right reasons.” It reminds him that his work has nothing to do with what is said about him, but is rather about doing what he took an oath to do.
“Everyone has inherent value and is worth listening to,” says Justice Clarence Thomas.
Thomas frequently turns to the “Litany of Humility,” which helps focus and insulate him from the distractions, criticisms, or praise that can come from this world. In his view, what really matters is whether you do what you are called to do.
As we talked about the biggest blessings of his life, he named being born in America, (editor emphasis)  his faith, his son, and our marriage. He also spoke of his love of University of Nebraska athletics, motor homing over the last 18 years through “flyover country,” and the gift of being able to read. When you grow up surrounded by illiteracy with adults asking, “What this paper say?” reading becomes a true blessing. “It is like Christmas every day” when he reads.

On interracial marriage, he says, “If I were more progressive or liberal, [our marriage] would be considered progressive to be in an interracial marriage, but if you are not, then you are selling out.” He adds, “I don’t think of it as some statement. You’re my wife.”

America's Exceptionalism Under Attack From Within

The 7 Factors Turning America From a Great Nation Into an Also-Ran

John Hawkins

If you were to list the “greatest” nations in world history, you’d come up with some like the United States and Great Britain that are still doing fairly well. However, quite a few once great nations like Greece, Egypt, and Iran are sad, pathetic shells of what they used to be. Then there are the once formidable (and sometimes evil) empires like the Soviet Union, the Roman Empire, and Ottoman Empire which swallowed vast swathes of territory and then fell to pieces.
How did nations that dominated their regions and, in some cases, projected power worldwide fall so far from grace? There are different explanations in every case. Sometimes a Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great conquered everything he set his eyes upon and lesser men couldn’t keep it together. However, in many other cases, structural weaknesses in powerful countries eventually brought them down. For a variety of reasons, the Spartans didn’t breed enough and were heavily reliant on slaves that outnumbered them 10-to-1. The Romans lost the will or, alternately, the ability to continue breaking up barbarian tribes that they brought into their empire.
America has her own weaknesses that, unless we deal with them, one day will bring us down.
1) Debt: America is more than 20 trillion dollars in debt and this year is on pace to add more than 400 billion dollars to that number. Our debt, which we have no intention of ever fully paying, is now the equivalent of about 25% of the world’s GDP. That number is massive; the CBO estimates that by 2040, 58% of all our spending will be nothing but interest payments on the debt. How much are we going to be able to spend on our military then? If you think our infrastructure is bad now, what do you think it will look like then? What happens when we have large, unexpected expenses, like another 9/11? Our debt is just as big a threat to our future as the Brits and Axis onc
3) Immigration: Because of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, there is no comparison between how much immigration may have helped America in the past versus how much it helps us now. Furthermore, our unwillingness to secure our borders has created a lot of problems with illegal immigrants. Currently 57% of families headed by a legal or illegal immigrant are receiving some form of welfare. It doesn’t help America at all to bring people here who are uneducated,  work menial jobs and don’t pay income taxes, who don’t assimilate or who end up on some form of welfare. As jobs and wealth in America have increasingly moved toward more educated citizens, our broken and outdated immigration system has not kept up. Contrary to what you often hear, our current immigration system is making America WEAKER, not STRONGER.  Immigration could once again be a source of strength for America, but stopping it altogether would be better than continuing with it under the current system.2) The Lack Of Production Capacity: America was the decisive factor in WWII, not just because of our excellent military, but because our massive production capabilities enabled us to send enormous amounts of military equipment to our allies. Just as an example, we sent Russia roughly a third of its fuel and half its trucks while the Brits received about a quarter of their munitions and aircraft from our country. Could we do that again? Not even close. That leaves us vulnerable, not just if there’s another world war, but if our own military were to suffer some sort of disastrous setback. In other words, if there were a Pearl Harbor 2, we might ultimately end up on the wrong side of the war.  
4) Cultural Degradation: Americans tend to think that EVERYTHING gets better as time goes along, but pretty clearly the character of Americans has changed for the worse over the last few decades. Christianity is on the decline while tribalism, something that goes against our nation’s motto, “E pluribus unum,” is on the rise. The mainstream media has become so dishonest and partisan that there’s not much difference between it and the sort of propaganda that Pravda puts out. We’ve stopped treating people who became rich and successful as role models and started looking at them as people who somehow “cheated” at the game. There have always been sleazy politicians that lied to us, but as the public has become more partisan, we no longer treat poor character and dishonesty as defects that should keep someone out of office. We’ve moved from admiring wisdom to applauding snark and outrage. Instead of trying to bring people together, our “leaders” try to exacerbate differences to fire up their base. We are in a state of advanced cultural rot and it shows in every facet of our society.
5) Our Refusal to Take Nuclear Proliferation Seriously: Could America stop a nuclear bomb snuck over our border or even identify where it came from? Doubtful. Could we survive as a major power after an EMP is detonated above us? Given that some estimates put the number of deaths via starvation in that situation as high as 90% of our population,we’d have to be very fortunate to hold it together.  In a world where a handful of successful states have nuclear weapons, those scenarios are unlikely. However, in a world where basket-case nations like Pakistan and North Korea have nukes and a new nuclear arms race is likely to start in the Middle East because of Iran, the chances of a nuclear weapon being used against us either by radical Islamists or a narcissistic dictator are much higher than they were even at the height of the Cold War.
6) A Broken Political System: America’s political system is nearly non-functional. The only things Republicans and Democrats ever seem to be able to come together and agree on are more spending and poorly thought-out, often counterproductive legislation passed in the midst of a crisis. There are a number of reasons for that. For one thing, both parties have become much more partisan and simply don’t agree with each other on much of anything. In addition, neither party feels compelled to keep its word to the other. In other words, a deal cut today doesn’t mean anything next year. So, realistically, only short term deals are even possible under the best of circumstances. No form of organization -- including a nation -- that’s run like this can succeed over the long haul and America will not be an exception to that.
7) Out of Control Government: The older America gets, the more the federal government seems to expand into every nook and corner of American life. Worse yet, the bigger government gets, the less competent it seems to become. It’s all a result of circular reasoning. Americans find a problem and demand that the government address it. The government does and usually creates some new problem that’s nearly as bad as the problem it set out to solve. Then, there are demands that we give the government even more power to fix the problem it created trying to fix the first problem. Rinse and repeat and many of our biggest problems today can be directly traced in some form or fashion to government involvement. It doesn’t matter if our politicians handcuff our military, can’t secure our borders or simply can’t explain how they spent billions of dollars’ worth of our tax money, the push is always to give them more power and control. The federal government is a tick and the bigger it gets, the less blood there is for the American people and less chance our nation has of succeeding over the long haul. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Charter Schools - Debunking The Elitist Media View

Analysis: Is Scapegoating Charter Schools on Segregation Actually a Stealth Attack on Educational Excellence for African-American Students?

January 9, 2018

You don’t have to look far to find cogent rebuttals to a recent Associated Press story on charter schools and segregation. That analysis — which blames charter schools for intensifying segregation in public schools — is reminiscent of a political campaign where, running from a suspect track record, an incumbent blames the challenger for something he himself has done.

In this case, in a country that is deeply segregated, and whose public schools are deeply segregated both because of changing demographics and the precondition of residential assignment that pervades the public system, charter schools are being scapegoated for creating the racially divided and isolated world that the public schools themselves have given us. It’s the sort of pablum only a politico could offer.

The arguments many have made to counter this are spot-on, in particular about the difference between being assigned to racial isolation versus minorities making affirmative choices to be with people who share their skin color and, perhaps, their values. But there’s a piece that’s missing, and so much turns on understanding it that we gloss over it at our own peril.

The truth is, the attack on charters and their perceived role in segregation reveals a deep and troubling double standard. It’s powered by a desire to destroy black academic excellence — along with those who seek it out and those who seek to provide it — in the name of some other set of democratic fundamentals that, at this point, don’t exist even on paper, let alone in reality. This line of attack illuminates the preferential treatment non-black minorities and, of course, white Americans receive in the realm of public education as a framework for schooling. A framework that doesn’t work for millions of black and brown children but is valorized over those we see having life-changing effects, particularly in our large urban centers.

You can see this bias clearly when you examine how traditional district loyalists and anti-charter activists defend underperforming and overwhelmingly black neighborhood schools. These folks have held these schools blameless during their destructive reign even as black futures have been squandered within them.

They’ve been messaging test cases for the limits of what schools can do (overcome poverty and now segregation) even while they’ve remained central to arguments for more dollars and more people in the system. While in the ’burbs, testing is an evil visited upon stressed-out swizzle-stick-loving toddlers, in the ’hood — where learning is incidental — they’ve been used as a crucible no teacher should have to bear. These schools are the Jeanne d’Arc of “community” even as they rip communities apart, their existence crucial to the overall notion of democratic rule even when that rule is ruinous.

A shining and ironic example of this can perhaps be seen in New York, where the Bloomberg-era school closure and restart strategy — which has ultimately been proven beneficial — was attacked by the United Federation of Teachers and its then-handmaiden the NAACP (a relationship that has only metastasized). Consider Paul Robeson High School. The school, named for the civil rights activist who was ultimately blacklisted for his advocacy, undermined the very promise of his life of service even as it failed to pass on his brilliance to its students. On his opposition to closing the school, UFT President Michael Mulgrew offered, “We cannot continue with policies that allow inequality not only to exist, but to flourish.”

One must wonder to which policies he referred. The residential assignment policies that ensure schools like Robeson are racially isolated? The adult deployment policies that result in the students within them getting the least-experienced teachers who also have the least support (an inequity now fully present as those in New York City’s Absent Teacher Reserve pool are reassigned to low-income, high-minority schools)? These are the sorts of policies we expect black families to support in the name of democracy and community?

The policy menu of black academic oppression is too long to list. But its record of ravaging the black community is one that must not be lengthened in the name of an oppressive view that holds student achievement among its lowest priorities.

Conversely (and courtesy of the charter segregation lobby) we also see what these folks would have us attack: schools working for black families that exist because those same families have made the affirmative decision to attend them.

Depending on what cocktail parties you attended this holiday season, you likely heard any number of derisive characterizations of today’s modern-day Freedom Schools. Some outright condescending (those families don’t know how to choose a school) to counterintuitive (those schools cream the best families). The latter is particularly destructive because it penalizes black families — some foreign-born, some the home-grown descendants of slaves, but all of whom want a better future for their children — for that quality we value most in every other race and creed in the American patchwork: ambition.

Consider how this same ambition is handled in some of America’s other numerous racial tranches. White urbane families who like cities but still want accelerated education have an entire network of segregated academies within the public schools, most commonly known as gifted and talented, fostered for them. It’s widely known that these programs pass over black kids, but no one seems to care, even as cries for the expansion of these programs continue to grow.

Or look at the selective high school admissions process in New York, where Stuyvesant High School — arguably the crown jewel of the network — is overwhelmingly Asian (annually, the combined black and Hispanic student cohort numbers in the single digits). Conservatives defend the hard-work ethic of Asian families. Liberals cite Stuyvesant as a bastion of excellence to which many other races should have access, even if it means lowering the bar for entry.

This excellence is prized and sought after even as Success Academy Charter Schools — among the state’s best schools of any type — which brim over with black and brown kids, battles building by building to get necessary space for its families. It is indeed easier for a store that caters to “adult” interests to open in New York than it is to expand opportunity for minority kids in charter schools. What’s the message being sent here?

Black folks are unique in America because we are often asked to sacrifice some notion of personal agency or sovereignty “for the greater good” in manners that other groups are not asked to and would never be expected to. Don’t protest police shootings because law and order matter more than living and breathing. Give up school choice because democratic school boards are more fundamental than if your kid is educated. Don’t seek a school that may mirror your values and affirm your racial and ethnic identity because integration and assimilation are more important, even if the former is a problem of white preference and the latter potentially undermines your child’s sense of self.

In this round of “segregationist” attacks on charters (a line of reasoning now also core to union opposition against charters as well), we see the latest in a long line of American school policies that all amount to the same thing: a raucous and callous shout of “get to the back of the line” to the country’s black families.

It’s a command to which no family, charter or otherwise, should assent. Now or ever.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Trickle Down Tax Cuts? You Be The Judge

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Global Cooling - OMG! Now What?

Global Warming Dealt Death Blow as Sahara Desert Gets 16 Inches of Snow

According to the U.K. Daily Mail, this is only the third time in nearly 40 years that snow has fallen in and around the Algerian town of Ain Sefra, a place known for hot weather and reddish-colored sand dunes — not blinding white snowscapes.
The last time this town, dubbed “The Gateway to the Desert,” received a a few inches of snow was in December of 2016 and again in January of 2017. Prior to that, the town last saw snow flurries for about a half hour in February of 1979.