A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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While reading the furious (if often contradictory) denunciations in the New York Times and elsewhere of the the Stephen Harper government in Canada’s plans to build in Ottawa a Memorial to the Victims of Communism, I never learned, until one of my commenters pointed out that Harper government is simultaneously sponsoring the construction of a nearby National Holocaust Monument, of generally similar style and size, with a slightly larger budget.

Here’s a mockup view of the “controversial” Victims of Communism” memorial:

And here’s the mock-up view of the completely non-controversial Daniel Libeskind National Holocaust Monument not far away, near the National War Museum:

And, when I go to look up the Harper government’s write-ups of the two projects, it turns out the Canadian government puts them together on a single webpage:

List of upcoming projects

In other words, the Harper government is treating the two memorials as a tandem. The Holocaust memorial has a budget planned to be maybe 50% larger, while the Victims of Communism might get a larger site, but then much of that is being preserved as a lawn, while the Holocaust site is being landscaped to repel people wanting to eat lunch or sunbathe. The Holocaust gets a site closer to tourists, the Communism gets a site closer to government workers. The Holocaust monument is expected to be finished by the end of 2015 while “key elements” of the Communism memorial will be finished by the fall of 2015. And so forth.

It seems pretty fair. Now that’s traditionally how politics is done: you package a couple of give-aways to a couple of voter blocs together, because attacking one would be seen, in effect, as attacking the other. Reciprocity.

But, less and less does that kind of reciprocal thinking come naturally to 21st Century pundits. Almost nobody on the Internet seems to have noticed the obvious linkage between the two projects.

These days, discourse gets more and more childish: there are just Good Guys and Bad Guys. The WWE has a more nuanced view of moral principles than the NYT.


Chateau Laurier Hotel and Parliament Building, Ottawa

I’ve never been to Ottawa, the capital of Canada, but it looks like it has some impressive buildings and monuments.

National Gallery and Notre-Dame Cathedral

National War Memorial

Ottawa exists because in 1857 Queen Victoria picked the isolated town to be the capital of Canada because it was the only settlement of even modest size on the border between French-speaking Quebec and English-speaking Ontario. Also, its small population would reduce the chances of urban proletarians rioting, and its remote northerly location would help it hold out longer against an American invasion.

Now, there are plans to spend a little under $5 million to add a modest-sized memorial to Ottawa’s current collection. But the New York Times is here to scoff at the concept:

An Immodest Proposal Rankles a Capital Known for Modesty

By IAN AUSTEN FEB. 26, 2015

OTTAWA — You can make out Canadians’ reputation for modesty in their capital, a city that has largely avoided erecting anything you might call monumental. None of Ottawa’s landmarks are built on the grand scale of, say, the Arc de Triomphe or the Washington Monument — not even the national war memorial or the tower of the main Parliament building in the city center.

Ottawa’s Parliament Building is 302 feet tall, slightly taller than the U.S. Capitol building.

The small park next to the Supreme Court down the street is pretty modest, too — a nameless and featureless bit of green space now used mainly as a shortcut to a parking lot. But a politically charged proposal to fill the park with a monument that would be anything but modest has prompted protests from the mayor and other politicians, riled the architectural establishment and even been questioned by the country’s chief justice.

Screenshot 2015-02-27 20.37.05 The plan, put forward by a private group but heavily championed and partly financed by the current Conservative government, is to build an immense concrete memorial to the victims of Communism around the world, covering 54,000 square feet and rising four stories high.

How “immense” is 54,000 square feet?

Well, the obvious comparison would be to Washington D.C.’s United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. From the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s FAQ:


The Museum is 161 feet wide, 312 feet long, 91 feet tall, and 265,000 square feet in size. The Permanent Exhibition occupies 36,000 square feet on three floors.

Of course, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum doesn’t take up 265,000 square feet of land. Instead, it is a tall building occupying a 50,000 s.f. footprint just off the National Mall, while the proposed Victims of Communism Memorial in Ottawa would be largely an open air installation in the mode of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC.

To the memorial’s growing number of critics, the idea of using one of the last pieces of open land in the city’s parliamentary district not just for an outsize monument but for one that does not commemorate any direct event in Canada’s history is an unacceptable break from tradition.

“We are not a country that overthrew the yoke of Communism,” said Shirley Blumberg, a Toronto architect who served on a design review panel and voted against the design that was chosen. “I would understand if we were Romania, to have this monument at the center of our democracy. It is not central to our history. It would be like the Americans putting this on the Mall in Washington.” …

While much of the debate has focused on the location, Ms. Blumberg has been just as outspoken about the aesthetics of the planned monument. All six of the submissions reviewed by the design panel were “really quite poor,” she said, and the winning bid, by Abstrakt Studio Architecture, was “bleak and oppressive,” giving a “very literal and brutal depiction of violence.”

If we have to think back on Communism, we need a better, more upbeat attitude. Sure, mistakes were made, but let’s keep the good things in mind, too. Or why think about it at all?

That, said Voytek Gorczynski, the founder of Abstrakt, is precisely the idea.

“Her comments as to the design being visceral and brutal, I take that as a compliment — that was the intention,” said Mr. Gorczynski, who was born and raised in Poland and jailed there for political activism as a student.

… But Ms. Blumberg said that monuments related to wars and terrible historical events “that are really widely acknowledged to be truly great,” like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington and Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, have taken a different approach. “They all try to rise above the subject and talk to what we’ve learned and what this means for the future of humanity,” she said. …

Let’s not dwell on minor incidents in the past. Look to the future. Nobody is interested in what happened in 1932. Now, 1933, that’s important. But 1932 is too long ago.

Ms. Blumberg and others have said they believe that the project is being pushed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as part of a political agenda. Canada is scheduled to hold a federal election this year, and the country’s large number of citizens of Eastern European heritage, particularly Ukrainians, tend to back Mr. Harper’s Conservative Party. …

Ludwik Klimkowski, a financial adviser in Ottawa who is the chairman of Tribute to Liberty, denied that the government had backed the project for political reasons, insisting that critics were motivated by dislike of Mr. Harper’s government or by ethnic prejudices. “I think the majority of the people who are raising some concerns are Canadians from white Anglo-Saxon backgrounds,” he said. “That face of Canada has changed.”

Nor, Mr. Klimkowski insisted, was it fair to call the proposed monument bleak. “It is about the wonderful story about Canadians and Canada’s refugees,” he said.

Ms. Blumberg, who is Jewish and was born in South Africa to a family of Eastern European heritage, said she found the whole argument dispiriting and contrary to the democratic values that first drew her to Canada.

“Diminishing people because of their background, that’s certainly not what I thought Canada is about,” she said.

$4.4 MILLION dollars!

Tribute to Liberty has apparently not yet raised all of the 2.5 million Canadian dollars it is providing to the project, whose overall budget is 5.5 million Canadian dollars (about 4.4 million American dollars).


From Politico:

Eric Holder’s parting shot: It’s too hard to bring civil rights cases

In an exit interview, the attorney general says his critics may be partly driven by race.

By MIKE ALLEN 2/27/15 7:00 AM EST

Attorney General Eric Holder plans to push, during his final weeks in office, a new standard of proof for civil-rights offenses, saying in an exit interview with POLITICO that such a change would make the federal government “a better backstop” against discrimination in cases like Ferguson and Trayvon Martin.

Holder could look outside the mainstream of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence to more informal community-based systems of legal reasoning, such as lynch law.

Holder told POLITICO that between now and his departure, probably in early March when the Senate is expected to confirm Loretta Lynch as his successor

They could call it Lynch law.

he will call for a lower standard of proof for civil rights crimes.

For example, consider the old rationalization for punishing an innocent man: For Reason of State. Isn’t it about time that the Obama Administration becomes entitled to arbitrarily imprison cisgender straight white males For Reason of Narrative?

Such a change would make it easier for the federal government to bring charges in the case of a future Ferguson or Trayvon Martin.

Guilty by reason of uppitiness!

“I think some serious consideration needs to be given to the standard of proof that has to be met before federal involvement is appropriate, and that’s something that I am going to be talking about before I leave office,” Holder, 64, said.

If security camera footage shows the convenience store was looted by at least twelve good men and true, that should constitute a legal indictment of any white cop under federal civil rights laws.

The attorney general’s comments appeared to be aimed partly at preparing the country for the possibility that no federal charges would be brought in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last summer.

Graffiti reading “Snitches get stitches” would be admissible as evidence that the shopkeeper had it coming.

Holder said the inquiry would be completed when he left office, expected around the second week of March.

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that the Martin investigation had been closed, with “insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges” against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch coordinator who shot the unarmed black teenager to death back in 2012.

Asked if the bar for federal involvement in the civil rights offenses is too high for federal prosecutors to make cases in shootings like those of Martin and Brown, Holder suggested it was.

Trial by Twitter would be one reform that deserves serious consideration.

“I think that if we adjust those standards, we can make the federal government a better backstop — make us more a part of the process in an appropriate way to reassure the American people that decisions are made by people who are really disinterested,” he said.

You can’t get much more disinterested than the Obama Administration over Trayvon in the run-up to the 2012 Election: “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

“I think that if we make those adjustments, we will have that capacity.”

For example, if a random white person in the metropolitan area gets beaten to death with hammers within a few weeks of a white cop being let off by the judicial system, that show of community concern should legally override the white man’s outmoded Constitutional immunity from double jeopardy.

Lawyers in the Justice Department are looking into various possible reforms of civil rights law.

For example, the federal government could prosecute white people based on a sophisticated metric consisting of a case’s column inches of coverage in the New York Times multiplied by the number of miles from the New York Times Building on 8th Avenue.

Depending on their determination, it’s possible that Holder will simply argue about the need for a lower standard of proof rather than propose a specific legislative remedy.

For example, indicting people based on Facebook Likes and Dislikes would be a disruptive approach to the hidebound judicial system.

Possible changes include toughening hate-crimes laws, which were under consideration in the Martin case, and establishing a broader standard for what constitutes a “deprivation of rights under color of law,” the provision that could apply to the police shooting in Ferguson.

Another reform would be to remove pedantic pre-postmodern technicalities about the white malefactor needing to actually “exist,” thus allowing the Obama Administration the moral satisfaction of indicting Haven Monahan.

Here are some more immigration policy phrases that have polled or focus grouped well with voters.

Less future immigration.

What we’re for regarding reduced legal immigration numbers going forward.

One should never forget how revolutionary a concept is the fact that legal immigration is set by government policy.

“Less” is concrete and one syllable.

“Future” is important for two reasons: (a) when one says reduced immigration people often think you want to reduce the number of current legal immigrants–i.e., throw them out; and (b) it avoids the word “legal,” which has a positive association, while still being clear.

• Tags: Immigration 

Voluntary exit

“Voluntary exit” tests far better among voters than the grating “self-deportation,” which polls worse than “deportation.”

Commenter Joe H. suggests “Homeward bound,” complete with a theme song:

• Tags: Immigration 

More immigration terminology that has polled / focus grouped well with voters:

A definition: “Amnesty is when government grants an illegal alien a work permit (or other right to live America).”

Ideally trotted out in full once in every article that deals with amnesty.

Hammers home the idea of “work permit,” which is at once clear, true, and massively unpopular. It cannot be fudged; it defines away the path-to-something-short-of-citizenship-is-not-an-amnesty con. Every amnesty that has been proposed issues a work permit.

Can substitute “illegal immigrant” for “illegal alien” and “in the U.S.” for “in America.”

• Tags: Immigration 

Wisconsin may be the state where European social democracy came closest to happening in America. As Alice Cooper helpfully points out in Wayne’s World, “Milwaukee is the only major American city to have ever elected three Socialist mayors.”

But Wisconsin is also where The Reasons Why We Can’t Have Nice Things are most obvious. Wisconsin’s 1970s attempt at McGovern Era social democracy foundered spectacularly on a huge increase in the number of black welfare spongers. Today, Wisconsin is saddled with the lowest scoring blacks in the country on the NAEP test. Liberal Dane County, site of the state government and the U. of Wisconsin at Madison, has the worst racial inequality in the country aggregating across a broad variety of measures

Last year, The New Republic argued that Wisconsin governor (and Presidential possibility) Scott Walker is saddled by “Unelectable Whiteness” due to … well … it’s a little hard for TNR to make clear exactly why, but that’s what I’m here for.

The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker

A journey through the poisonous, racially divided world that produced a Republican star

By Alec MacGillis

June 15, 2014

… Among U.S. cities, Milwaukee has long been an outlier. In the late nineteenth century, it was the most foreign city in the country: By 1890, a mere 13 percent of its inhabitants were the children of American-born parents. For most of the period between 1910 and 1960, the city was governed by Socialist Party mayors.

Moynihan’s Law of Proximity to the Canadian Border long protected Wisconsin, allowing progressivism to flourish. Fighting Bob La Follette Sr., governor or senator from Wisconsin from 1901 to his death in 1925, won 17% of the vote in the 1924 Presidential election on the Independent Progressive ticket.

And, as the twentieth century wore on, Milwaukee stood apart for another reason: It remained remarkably and stubbornly white. The Great Migration that had brought some six million African Americans from the South between 1910 and 1930 and in a second wave around World War II transformed just about every major city in the North—except Milwaukee.

And Minneapolis-St. Paul, too.

Few migrants made it past the great sponge of Chicago, in part because there wasn’t a plentiful supply of jobs to entice them: Milwaukee’s labor market was then amply filled by European immigrants and workers from the declining timber and mining industries up north. By 1960, blacks made up nearly a quarter of Chicago’s population and nearly 30 percent of Detroit’s and Cleveland’s. In Milwaukee, they accounted for less than 10 percent of residents, the smallest proportion of African Americans in any of the 15 largest cities in the country.

It wasn’t until the ’60s that African Americans started to drift into Milwaukee in large numbers. For the next 20 years, the city offered safer streets and better schools than Chicago, and its industrial base was faring better than in many other urban areas.

I’ll get to the big reason, which TNR won’t touch, below.

By 1990, Milwaukee’s black population had shot up to 30 percent. Today, it stands near 40 percent, while Hispanics make up another 17 percent.

I can recall visiting Milwaukee in July 1991 (I can pinpoint the date because it was the week Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested in Milwaukee), and being struck that most of the work in Milwaukee seemed to be being done by Mexicans.

This delayed arrival would prove highly consequential. Not long after a substantial African American community took shape, Milwaukee’s industrial base began to collapse and its manufacturing jobs disappeared. This left almost no time for the city to develop a black middle class or a leadership elite.

No, it worked like this: before the increase in welfare payments in the 1960s and 1970s, northern cities attracted those Southern blacks who wanted to better themselves by getting factory jobs. But during the big liberalization of welfare in the 1960s-1970s, northern cities attracted those down South who heard it was easy to get welfare.

When I spent a weekend in Milwaukee doing touristy things in 1991, it was striking that a huge fraction of the low end service jobs, like selling hot dogs at the lakefront fairgrounds, were being done by Mexican immigrants rather than by the city’s huge black population.

Within short order, Milwaukee had some of the most glaring racial disparities in the country. Today, it has the second-highest black poverty rate in the United States, and the unemployment rate is nearly four times higher for blacks than for whites. The city had never been exactly welcoming to African Americans—its tight-knit enclaves of Germans, Jews, and Poles had fiercely resisted housing and school integration. But the decline of the black ghetto so soon after many of its residents had arrived made it easier for white Milwaukeeans to write off the entire African American community, or to blame it for the city’s troubles. White flight, like the Great Migration, came late to Milwaukee, but it came fast and fueled with resentment. Between 1960 and 2010, the population of the three formerly rural counties around Milwaukee County (Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington, or the “WOW” counties, for short) nearly tripled, to 608,000.

Nah, it was Wisconsin’s generous welfare program, which assumed a German Protestant work ethic was a human universal, that proved so alluring to the laziest people of Mississippi, and encouraged their daughters to subsequently have babies young to get on the dole themselves. Here’s a graph of AFDC from Thomas Corbett’s paper:

Screenshot 2015-02-27 01.14.16

The AFDC maximum for a family of three is a good proxy for the question of how overall cynical a state was toward welfare queens. In 1970, the AFDC maximum for a family of three in Wisconsin was still a modest $184 per month. Granted, that was more than triple what it was in Mississippi straight down the Illinois Central railroad line, but it was less generous than in Illinois or in Minnesota.

By 1980, however, AFDC was $444 in Wisconsin versus only $288 in more expensive Illinois. Illinois’ heavily Irish political class had grown cynical about new arrivals from Mississippi, but Wisconsin’s fairly German electorate had longer maintained its faith in humanity. Minnesota, with its similarly naive Scandinavian electorate, offered almost as much as Wisconsin, but Minnesota is colder and more remote, so Wisconsin was the preferred destination.

If you’ve been paying close attention, you’ll know Milwaukee has been notorious for having the worst welfare problem in America for a long time. For example, Jason DeParle’s well-known 2005 book American Dream about the 1990s welfare reform is set in Milwaukee. Here’s Harvard sociologist Christopher Jencks’ review in the New York Review of Books.

If you read between the lines, the TNR article is saying that the national media will eventually be able to nail somebody in Scott Walker’s entourage for saying something insensitive about blacks because … uh … well … okay, to be frank, if you knew how much better Milwaukee was before all these people from Mississippi showed up with their hands out, you’d be insensitive, too.


Here’s another phrase that polls well:

Immigration security and enforcement (“immigration security” for short).

Definition: the set of measures to stop and reverse illegal immigration. It’s important to get away from “border security,” which is too narrow a concept.

By crushing margins, the public thinks immigration security and enforcement (when defined to be the set of measures to stop and reverse illegal immigration) is more important than, or is as important as, the security of South Korea, Europe, Israel, or Mid-East oil supplies; the ability to attack Iran; or defeating ISIS. (And by lesser margins head-to-head.)

• Tags: Immigration 

From the Associated Press, a new application of disparate impact theory:

Marathon bombing suspect: Not enough minorities in jury pool
02/26/2015 1:34 PM

Lawyers for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect asked a judge Thursday to dismiss the indictment against their client or suspend his trial, saying there weren’t enough minorities and younger people in the jury pool.

The move by lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev came just days before opening statements and testimony are set to begin in his federal death penalty trial.

In their written motion, Tsarnaev’s lawyers say the selection process has undermined the required random summoning of potential jurors. …

The defense said 1,373 people, summoned from a population of about 5 million in eastern Massachusetts, were originally given numbers based on a random pool order list. New numbers were later assigned, based on when the jurors reported to court to complete written questionnaires. …

“This re-ordering, apparently based on non-random factors such as arrival time, had systemic effects on the order.” …

For example, a statistician hired by the defense found that the reordering of prospective jurors, on average, pushed the number of black jurors back 43 positions in the order of selection and moved potential white jurors up by three positions. Prospective jurors who live in Boston were pushed back 25 positions, and those under 30 moved back 13 slots, the defense said.

The statistician, comparing the reordered jurors to their original order, found there were no prospective black jurors among the first 94 people in the new order. He said there would have been five potential black jurors if the court had kept the jurors in their original order. …

They also argued that the process did not identify enough prospective black jurors. They said although black people make up 6.14 percent of the population eligible for jury service, they make up only 4.25 percent of the list of names drawn for jury selection. …

Tsarnaev’s lawyers have argued repeatedly that the trial should be moved out of Massachusetts because of the emotional impact the bombings had in the state and because many people have personal connections to the case. …

Jeff Denner, a veteran Boston defense attorney who is not involved in the case, said he doesn’t see a contradiction between the defense push to move the trial out of Massachusetts and its complaint that jurors who live in Boston may have been underrepresented.

As Racehorse Haynes might say, May it please the jury, my client doesn’t have a dog, my client’s dog has no teeth, and the plaintiff deserved that vicious bite my client’s dog’s sharp teeth inflicted upon him.


From the New York Times:

Are ‘Learning Styles’ a Symptom of Education’s Ills?
By ANNA NORTH FEBRUARY 25, 2015 10:29 AM February

Do you like to learn by seeing, hearing or doing?

According to some education researchers, it may not matter. They say the idea of teaching according to students’ “preferred learning styles” — auditory, visual or kinesthetic — has little to no empirical backing. But although criticism may be denting the idea’s popularity, it still persists — which may say something larger about the way teachers today are trained.

Students do have preferences when it comes to receiving information visually or verbally, said Mark A. McDaniel, a psychology professor at Washington University and a co-author of the book “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.” But to prove that designing lessons to fit students’ preferred learning styles actually helps them learn better, you’d have to randomly assign students to receive, for instance, either a visually or a verbally based approach. If teaching to students’ learning styles works, said Dr. McDaniel, “what you should see is visual learners do better on the visual than the verbal instruction, and verbal learners do better on the verbal than the visual instruction.”

Not many studies have actually done such a random assignment, and of those that Dr. McDaniel and his co-authors examined in a 2009 paper, “none of them showed that kind of interaction.” And, said Harold Pashler, a psychology professor at the University of California, San Diego, and one of Dr. McDaniel’s co-authors on the study, no compelling evidence for teaching to students’ learning styles has emerged in the years since: “There’s one or two somewhat oddball studies,” he said, “but there’s a number of new negative findings that are more substantial.”

Hal Pashler is always worth paying attention to.

Still, according to Christian Jarrett at Wired, the concept remains popular. “It is propagated not only in hundreds of popular books,” he writes, “but also through international conferences and associations, by commercial companies who sell ways of measuring learning styles, and in teacher training programs.” He cites a study of teachers in a variety of countries that “found that 96 percent believed in the idea of preferred learning styles.”

And the biology professor Tanya Noel writes at her blog The Nucleoid that “there is ample evidence that teaching toward preferred learning styles does not seem to actually help people learn” but that “many teachers/professors and students waste time and energy on this, efforts they could be directing elsewhere.”

People no doubt differ in how best they learn. For example, my brain doesn’t engage well with abstractions and toy examples, but comes to life when dealing with examples drawn from large, massively important and controversial questions, such as racial differences. On the other hand, this makes many people hot under the collar and their IQs drop noticeably.

Dr. Pashler, too, has encountered regret from teachers who feel they should be doing more to tailor instruction to different learning styles: “They assume this is well established by the education field, that it would be great if they could only test people’s learning styles and differentiate education accordingly, but they feel sadly unable to do that because they don’t have the resources and the tests and everything else.”

Why this regret, if learning styles actually have so little support? “I think it’s because they’re taught this in the education schools,” said Dr. Pashler. Many masters’ programs in education “are really not very evidence-based,” he argued. “A lot of education-school faculty are really not examining outcome literature before they make recommendations.”

In a 2011 study, Daniel H. Robinson, now a professor of education at Colorado State University, and his co-authors found that only 18 percent of recommendations in teacher-education textbooks were based on intervention studies — the kind of studies, Dr. Robinson said in an interview, “that would allow you to make causal conclusions.” Sixty-four percent of the recommendations were based on secondary sources, not on primary research at all. “It was pretty discouraging,” said Dr. Robinson.

Part of the problem, said Dr. Pashler, is that doing high-quality education research in the first place is difficult. Researchers need to look at many classrooms to get statistically significant results, he explained, “because everybody in the classroom is potentially subject to other influences in common besides the ones that you’re manipulating” — if one class meets at 8 a.m., for instance, the students’ sleepiness could affect results. The need for lots of classrooms can make education research very expensive. And, he added, “getting informed consent for lots of people in schools is just a nightmare.”

Despite these obstacles, he said, “there is an evidence base that is slowly building up that educators can rely on.” But that evidence isn’t necessarily making its way to teachers.

And just because it gets to teachers doesn’t mean they necessarily employ it. “A lot of people, researchers included, forget one basic fact, which is that teachers are gatekeepers,” said Larry Cuban, an emeritus professor of education at Stanford who has questioned whether purportedly evidence-based educational approaches can succeed. Those who make decisions in education (like, for instance, purchasing technology for students) “forget that teachers are basically policy makers at the classroom door,” he said, “which then means that a lot of research doesn’t get past the classroom door.”

Assume for the sake of argument that students vary in terms of style of learning at which they are best. Then, surely, teachers vary at what style they are best at, too. So, should a teacher emphasize what’s she’s best at, or should she spend a lot of time during each class at what she’s weaker at?

Teachers are a little bit like stand-up comedians, and students are like comedy club audience members, who have different tastes. Some find impressions funniest, some like puns, some like observational humor. Should the comedian do a little bit of all the different styles of humor to accommodate the diversity of tastes in his audience, or should he concentrate on what he does best? Good question?

I have this odd perspective on teaching as the Second Worst Job in Showbiz because where I live, teaching is often a day job for people who try to keep their hand in the entertainment industry. For example, my late neighbor Bill taught driver’s ed, coached football, and other tasks for the LAUSD over several decades, all the while appearing in hundreds of television commercials that paid nice residuals.

People tend to think in simple moralistic terms about education, while they think more analytically about the entertainment they consume: it’s not solely a matter of entertainers ought to be trying harder, but audiences also realize that different talents tend to be talented at different things.

• Tags: Education 

David Frum had an excellent piece about Jeb Bush in The Atlantic, likely extending an idea I put forward in a Taki’s Magazine column last fall about Obama’s mother as a variant of an old archetype of Yankee imperialistic ambition exercised through migration and intermarriage.

Is Jeb Bush a Republican Obama?

The GOP may have found its own candidate for the age of fluidity represented—and accelerated—by the presidency of Barack Obama.

DAVID FRUM FEB 4 2015, 4:02 PM ET

… Yet when a man speaks for the record as often as has Jeb Bush, he deposits there enough material to learn something interesting about the man he is, rather than the boy he was.

Jeb Bush will tell you that, thanks to his marriage to his Mexican-born wife, he is bicultural. Here he is speaking at New York’s 92nd Street Y in November 2013:

“I’m bicultural—maybe that’s more important than bilingual. For those who have those kinds of marriages, appreciating the culture of your spouse is the most powerful part of the relationship. Being able to share that culture and live in it has been one of the great joys of my life. We chose Miami to live because it is a bicultural city. It’s as American as any, but it has a flair to it that is related to this bicultural feeling. I wanted my children to grow up in a bicultural way.”

While modestly disavowing bilingualism, Jeb Bush does speak Spanish readily. (His wife, reportedly, has not become equally comfortable in English.)

Oddly, Columba Bush is not from Mexico’s elite. She was an illegal alien in California for awhile as a child while her father did manual labor. With her criminal record of trying to smuggle goods past Customs as First Lady of Florida and general lack of education, Columba Bush would make an embarrassing First Lady for the country, in contrast to her classy, well-read sister-in-law Laura Bush, who was a model of dignity and discretion.

His three children speak both English and Spanish.

As Jeb Bush himself notes, there is a Bush family tradition of moving away from the culture into which one is born, to plunge into another. George H.W. Bush, born to a family of Northeastern grandees, reinvented himself as Sunbelt conservative. George W. Bush, born in New Haven, Connecticut, was the only member of the next generation of Bush brothers not born in Texas, and yet became the most Texan of them all. Jeb Bush moved away first from Texas, and then from his family’s patrician identity as White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

“I’ve actually converted to Catholicism … I’m whatever a W-A-S-C would be. I’m a proud Catholic and a converted one, principally because this was the faith of my wife, and I wanted our children to grow up in a non-mixed marriage. So … no longer a WASP.”

His family story and his relocation to Miami, a gateway to Latin America, have focused Jeb Bush’s attention on the topic of immigration. Listen to hours of his comments on public policy, and it quickly becomes overwhelmingly apparent that this is the public policy issue he cares about by far the most.


Jeb Bush will often list three-point and four-point plans to get America moving again. But when he does so, it is the immigration point that seems almost always to energize him most. He even published a book on the subject in 2013, coauthored with Clint Bolick, a well-known libertarian lawyer.

In “Immigration Wars,” Bush and Bolick recommend four major changes to US immigration law:

1) a gradual tightening of eligibility for family unification immigration;

2) tougher enforcement of immigration law in future, especially for visa overstayers;

3) a pathway to legality for the currently illegal;


4) a big surge in migration by skilled workers.

In interviews, however, Bush tends to touch lightly on the first two recommendations. It’s the latter two recommendations that most engage him. …

The way I look at this—and I’m going to say this, and it will be on tape, and so be it—is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, because a dad who loved their children was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table, and wanted to ensure that their family remained intact … and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family: Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love, it’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that is a different kind of crime. There should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that there are people coming to our family to provide for their families.

Bush added that he thought such migrants could also “make a great contribution to our country if we organized ourselves in a better way.” That national-interest concern seemed very much a secondary thought—and the whole discussion of enforcement in general seemed subordinated to the larger message of urgency in favor of more and wider immigration than the country receives now. It’s a point he’s made on other occasions, albeit in somewhat-less quotable language.

Jeb Bush’s enthusiasm for immigration, even when the immigrants are unskilled, even if they break the law, goes so deep that he even sometimes ventures to suggest that the personal characteristics of immigrants are to be preferred over those of the native-born. Here for example is an informal Jeb Bush speaking to a friendly interviewer, National Review’s Jay Nordlinger, early in 2014. “If we’re going to grow at 4% a year, we have to have young, aspiring people be able to create dynamic activity. And we can’t do that with our existing demographics.”

… This is not only a positive judgment on the immigrants themselves. It is also a negative judgment on native-born Americans.

This belief is premised both on a positive judgment about immigrants—and on an implicit assessment of American society as it exists today. Jeb Bush delivered an elaborated form of that negative assessment in a 2013 speech to the Faith and Freedom conference in Washington DC:

“Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans over the last 20 years. Immigrants are more fertile, and they have more intact families. They bring a younger population. The one way that we can rebuild the demographic pyramid is to fix a broken immigration system to allow for people to come, to learn English, to play by our rules, to embrace our values, and to pursue their dreams in our country with a vengeance—to create more opportunities for all of us. This is a conservative idea. If we do this, we will rebuild our country in a way that will allow us to grow. If we don’t do it, we will be in decline—because the productivity of this country is dependent on young people that are able to work hard.”

It may seem a strange comparison, but Jeb Bush has a lot in common with Barack Obama.

On the issues, Jeb Bush and Barack Obama obviously intensely disagree. But politicians are more than walking issue clusters. …

Both Jeb Bush and Barack Obama are men who have openly and publicly struggled with their ambivalence about their family inheritance. Both responded by leaving the place of their youth to create new identities for themselves: Barack Obama, as an organizer in the poor African-American neighborhoods of Chicago; Jeb Bush in Mexico, Venezuela, and at last in Cuban-influenced Miami. Both are men who have talked a great deal about the feeling of being “between two worlds”: Obama, in his famous autobiography; Bush, in his speeches. Both chose wives who would more deeply connect them to their new chosen identity. Both derived from their new identity a sharp critique of their nation as it is. Both have built their campaign for president upon a deep commitment to fundamental transformation of their nation into what they believe it should be.

Twenty-first century America is a place consumed by issues of identity. More and more Americans identify themselves as “Americans-plus”—fully American, yet also partially something else; in America, but not exclusively defined by their American-ness. An older America expected that people would be all one thing or all another: black or white, male or female, American or foreign. Barack Obama excited a new generation of voters because he—like them—transcended such categories. In this latest scion of the Bush family, of all unlikely persons, the GOP may have found its own candidate for the age of fluidity represented—and accelerated—by the presidency of Barack Obama.

Back in November I wrote:

Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro’s predilection for marrying natives reflects a female version of an old WASP pattern that goes far back. … In fact, Yankee adventurers helped spread American power via strategic marriages to targeted native elites.

What the president’s mother did in marrying men of different races picked out by the American intelligence apparatus as future leaders in their homelands was novel only in that she was a WASP adventuress rather than a WASP adventurer.

… Ruling class Yankees of mixed ancestry have included the legendary head of CIA counterintelligence James Jesus Angleton, whose mother was Mexican. George P. Bush, who appears to be penciled in by the Bushes for the White House some time after his father Jeb is done with it, also has a Mexican mother.

In early 19th-century California, sailors from Boston and New York would jump ship in the sleepy Mexican province. The most enterprising Yankees would convert to Catholicism and marry the daughters of local landowners (who were typically triracial). Then in the 1840s, the Yankees helped subvert Mexican rule and sponsor California’s annexation by the U.S.

Similarly, Northeastern merchants arriving in Hawaii married into the native Hawaiian royal family and obtained title to huge expanses of some of the most beautiful land in the world.

In the 1890s, the Yankees betrayed their in-laws, overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy, and got Hawaii annexed.

… Now, it may seem like I’m just cherry-picking examples for this novel category of “not exactly white but very WASP foreign policy guys.” But consider the politician who may have been Obama’s role model: his rival for the 2008 Democratic nomination, former UN Ambassador Bill Richardson.

The vaguely mestizo-looking Richardson is 3/4 Hispanic and 1/4th Boston upper crust. Richardson’s father broke Dwight Eisenhower’s leg in a 1913 college football game between Tufts and Army, then headed what’s now Citibank’s office in Mexico City, where he married his secretary.

Eventually, however, the rest of the world becomes aware of Yankee tricks, so this fun game of picking up valuable territories like California and Hawaii through backstabbing your hosts comes to an end. The elder Bush’s circle was intent on getting their grips on Mexico’s oil industry — Bob Mosbacher, GHW Bush’s Commerce secretary, said his dream was to be the first American CEO of Pemex, the Mexican oil monopoly — but over the last 100 years, Mexican elites have been pretty consistently anti-American and have thus resisted Yankee takeovers.

Then, imperial backwash sets in and these Yankee adventurers with marital or blood ties abroad start using these ties to try to take over America: Obama using his racial relationship to Africa to become President, Jeb attempting to use his marriage to a Mexican former illegal alien to elect a new people to elect ever more Bushes.


In Politico, Keith Gessen, the sane sibling of Masha Gessen, the American Establishment’s leading voice on Russia, asks: What if instead of the Mean Putin we know, Russia were ruled by a Nice Putin?

What If Putin Were Nice?

In truth, there would be very little difference in Russia’s anti-Western policies.

February 23, 2015


From the NYT:

Vivek Wadhwa, Voice for Women in Silicon Valley, Is Foiled by His Tone
FEB. 25, 2015
Farhad Manjoo

Silicon Valley has lately come to the realization that it is not the meritocracy it has long pretended to be — at least not for women and most minorities. Now, after years of ignoring the issue, and some serious prodding by the likes of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, tech companies say they will do something about the hiring gap between white and Asian men and nearly everyone else. But what should we make of the fact that one of the most outspoken voices for women in tech has been — rather oddly — a man?

Just as Tim Wise has to work twice as hard as his black competitors in the Hate Whitey business, Vivek Wadhwa is a tireless complainer about the Brogrammer Menace.

Vivek Wadhwa is an entrepreneur-turned-academic who is a co-author, with Farai Chideya, of the book “Innovating Women.” Mr. Wadhwa, 57, holds affiliations with Stanford, Duke and a Silicon Valley-based think tank called Singularity University. He is also a fixture on the lecture circuit and in the media, where he has frequently called on technology companies to address gender diversity.

At least he did, until he swore off speaking out for gender diversity after intense criticism from women in tech who saw him as neither their ally nor their spokesman.

Women in tech criticized Mr. Wadhwa for clumsily articulating their cause. They said he was prone to outrageous gaffes, including once referring to women at tech companies as “token floozies,” a phrase Mr. Wadhwa later blamed on his poor English. Critics also argued that Mr. Wadhwa’s message to women — that they should become more confident to survive in the tough world of tech — was outdated and could backfire on the women who followed it.

And when he was called out on those points, Mr. Wadhwa, who conceded that he can be “a hothead,” adopted a defensive — even wounded — tone on Twitter. He said he was under assault by “extremist feminists,” claimed that he had “done more for the cause of women in tech than almost anyone,” and frequently deflected criticism of his language by saying that he was an immigrant who did not understand web slang.

“He pulls the immigrant card, the victim card, and it is so much work to stay on point,” said Mary Trigiani, a management consultant who has gotten into a few dust-ups with Mr. Wadhwa.

The whole episode could be written off as a mere Twitter-fueled kerfuffle. But the women who have criticized Mr. Wadhwa say the battle carries a bigger message. That he became a spokesman for women in tech despite their questions about his message is, they say, symptomatic of an industry that seems bent on listening to men over women, even when the men aren’t especially qualified to comment. …

He had been researching entrepreneurship and immigration, but he found the women-in-tech issue to be an unexplored niche. So he took up the mantle, exploring the imbalance in dozens of guest op-ed columns as well as in lectures.

Soon he was a fixture on the issue, a go-to source for reporters looking for a sheen of expertise. …

Ms. Burleigh paraphrased Mr. Wadhwa’s ideas this way: “Wadhwa says women not only are reluctant to overstate their accomplishments and goals; they habitually understate them.”

That didn’t sit well with Amelia Greenhall, a web designer and the executive director of Double Union, a community workshop for women in San Francisco, who wrote a widely shared blog post condemning Mr. Wadhwa.

Crabs in a bucket.


The NYT reported on today’s Supreme Court case:

In a Case of Religious Dress, Justices Explore the Obligations of Employers

By ADAM LIPTAK FEB. 25, 2015

… Samantha Elauf, then 17, sought a job in a children’s clothing store owned by Abercrombie & Fitch. She wore a black head scarf but did not say why.

The company declined to hire her, saying her scarf clashed with the company’s dress code, which called for a “classic East Coast collegiate style.” The desired look, Justice Alito said, was that of “the mythical preppy.”

Ms. Elauf recalled the experience in a statement issued after the argument. …

“Then I learned I was not hired by Abercrombie because I wear a head scarf, which is a symbol of modesty in my Muslim faith,” she added. “This was shocking to me.”

It would have been great if Scalia had banged his gavel and summarily declared Abercrombie & Fitch guilty by Reason of Pederasty. From a New York profile of Mike Jeffries, boss of Abercrombie until very recently:

Above all, Jeffries, who was once married but is now openly gay, sought to sell an image of American beefcake sexuality as he saw it: a world of hairless, amply muscled men tussling in a pastoral Eden. That this world was so highly homoeroticized—the roughhousing in the catalogues seemed perpetually on the point of turning into a full-on orgy—is one of the most poignant ironies of his success. He was persuading straight jock teenagers to buy into a gay man’s fantasy of a jock utopia.

“Poignant” isn’t the word I would use.

Back to the Supreme Court:

Her experience with Abercrombie made her feel “disrespected because of my religious beliefs,” she said. “I was born in the United States and I thought I was the same as everyone else.”

I feel disrespected just walking past an Abercrombie store at the mall because I don’t share the sexual orientation of Ernst Röhm.

Fortunately, Justices Kagan and Ginsburg were there to worry about whether Jews would be discriminated against in the fashion retailing industry:

“Suppose,” Justice Kagan asked, “an employer just doesn’t want to hire any Jews, and somebody walks in and his name is Mel Goldberg, and he looks kind of Jewish and the employer doesn’t know he’s Jewish. No absolute certainty, and certainly Mr. Goldberg doesn’t say anything about being Jewish, but the employer just operates on an assumption that he’s Jewish, so no, he doesn’t get the job. Is that a violation?”

Mr. Dvoretzky said that was classic employment discrimination based on religion. But Abercrombie’s dress code was different, he said. It applied neutrally in banning all head coverings.

That was the problem, Justice Ginsburg responded. “They don’t have to accommodate a baseball cap,” she said. “They do have to accommodate a yarmulke.”

When I was at UCLA’s MBA school in the early 1980s, a retailing professor had to warn female gentile students that they’d never get promoted beyond Buyer at any of Los Angeles’s major department store chains. Funny how you never hear that kind of history of discrimination mentioned. Of course, we don’t even have a word for it, so it’s hard to remember.


From the New York Times:

Moscow Was Urged to Annex Crimea Before Ukraine President’s Fall, Report Says


MOSCOW — The Kremlin was advised to annex Crimea and a large swath of southeastern Ukraine weeks before the Ukrainian government fell, a Russian newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing what it said was a memo that was presumably presented to the presidential administration.

Russia has long contended that it acted without premeditation in Crimea, and was only seeking to protect Russian speakers who it said were under threat of attack, and to stave off what it suspected was an attempt by NATO to move its forces into the region.

But a report in Novaya Gazeta, one of the few independent voices still publishing in Russia, said that well before

well, 17 days before

the Ukrainian government fell in February 2014, the memo the newspaper had obtained advised the Kremlin to adopt the policy it has since pursued in Ukraine. The memo appears to have been drafted under the auspices of a conservative oligarch later suspected of funding the separatists, the report said.

The memo lays out what it says is the inevitable disintegration of Ukraine and suggests a series of logistical steps that Russia should take to make sure it remains in control of the situation, steps not far off from what actually occurred.

As early as Feb. 4, 2014, well before President Viktor F. Yanukovych resigned, on Feb. 21, the memo predicted his overthrow and suggested that Russia use the European Union’s own rules on autonomous areas to try to bind both Crimea and eastern Ukraine to Russia.

You keep using the term “well before;” I’m not sure it means what you think it means.

Dimtry S. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, suggested that the memo was a hoax. “It seems like a fake,” he said.

I find more implausible the implication of this article that the Kremlin did not have a contingency plan for Crimea and Eastern Ukraine until early February 2014.

War Plan Red, 1930

Consider, by way of contrast, America’s contingency plan for conquering Canada all the way to the Arctic Ocean:

War Plan Red
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joint Army and Navy Basic War Plan Red was a war plan created by the United States Army and Navy in the late 1920s and early 1930s to estimate the requirements for a hypothetical war with Great Britain (the “Red” forces)….

War Plan Red was developed by the United States Army following the 1927 Geneva Naval Conference and approved in May 1930 by the Secretary of War and the Secretary of Navy and updated in 1934–35. In 1939 on the outbreak of World War II and Britain’s war against Nazi Germany, a decision was taken that no further planning was required but that the plan be retained.[3] War Plan Red was not declassified until 1974. …

When War Plan Red was declassified in 1974, it caused a stir in American-Canadian relations because Canada, codenamed “Crimson” in the plan, was to have been the principal target of American forces.[2]

War Plan Red first set out a description of Canada’s geography, military resources, and transportation, and went on to evaluate a series of possible pre-emptive American campaigns to invade Canada in several areas and occupy key ports and railways before British troops could provide reinforcement to the Canadians – the assumption being that Britain would use Canada as a staging point. The idea was that the American attacks on Canada would prevent Britain from using Canadian resources, ports, or airbases.[2]

A key move was a joint US army-navy attack to capture the port city of Halifax, cutting off the Canadians from their British allies. Their next objective was to “seize Canadian Power Plants near Niagara Falls”[5] This was to be followed by a full-scale invasion on three fronts: From Vermont to take Montreal and Quebec, from North Dakota to take over the railhead at Winnipeg, and from the Midwest to capture the strategic nickel mines of Ontario. In parallel, the U.S. Navy was to seize the Great Lakes and blockade Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific ports.[2]

Here’s an analogy: The coal and steel works of Eastern Ukraine are kind of like what southern Ontario across from Detroit has become under NAFTA: an integral part of the North American economy. If a corrupt Canadian government in Ottawa were overthrown by Francophone rioters bused in from Montreal, and then the new Canadian government announced it was joining the EU trade bloc under French sponsorship, Washington would be peeved.

Perhaps Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s official in charge of Ukraine strategy, should have anticipated this February 2014 Russian contingency plan before encouraging the overthrow of the elected government in Kiev in December 2013?

Over the last 500 years, Russia didn’t get to be the biggest country in the world in terms of land by passively accepting other countries’ advances in what it considers its sphere of influence. The Muscovite strategy ever since throwing off the Mongol Yoke has been to be the biggest bully on the block.

Baiting the Russian bear makes sense if you have a highly plausible plan about how you are going to win. But how many Americans were willing to Die for Donetsk?

I don’t know, but I’m guessing the Obama Administration figured they could take down Putin nonviolently two months ago by getting the Saudis to flood the world with oil, like in 1986. That’s cool with me, especially because I like filling my tank for less money. But now gasoline is back up over $3 per gallon at my local ARCO, so I guess the Saudis have bailed.

And yet Nuland still has her job despite the disaster her policy engendered. The meta-disaster is that the Crimean Job changed the post-WWII assumption that only Israel gets to get bigger via right of conquest. That assumption that right of conquest was obsolete was a good thing.


From the NYT:

At Packed Utah Women’s Gymnastics Meets, Marketing Earns High Scores

By JOHN BRANCH FEB. 25, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY — … Utah gymnastics has the highest average attendance in women’s college sports nearly every year, beating out the likes of Tennessee and Connecticut basketball, Nebraska and Hawaii volleyball, and Alabama and Georgia gymnastics, most of them quite easily. It vaults past professional women’s sports, too, like the W.N.B.A., where top teams hope to draw 10,000.

The gymnastics team, ranked fourth this season, is averaging 14,682 through four meets. That is on pace to break the team record of 14,376 last year, when only 18 Division I men’s basketball teams regularly played in front of bigger crowds. (Utah was not one of them, and will not be again this year, despite a resurgence to national title contender.)

Plenty of other fans watch from home. Women’s gymnastics meets are, on average, the third most-viewed events on the Pac-12 Network, behind football and men’s basketball.

“And it’s not a distant third, either,” the network vice president Kirk Reynolds said. “It’s right in there with men’s basketball.”

The popularity of gymnastics at Utah — and, similarly, in the sport’s power nexus of the Southeastern Conference — is nothing new.

The success of women’s (or, really, girl’s) gymnastics embodies something Wilt Chamberlain used to say: women need their own sports where they’re not just doing the same thing men do.

Much of the appeal of men’s basketball is because the slam dunk is a very masculine act and because being a giant is a masculine thing too, as the popularity of Wilt, a giant who more or less introduced slam dunking, with the ladies suggested.

Women’s basketball, despite an enormous push in the 1990s, is stuck in the Uncanny Valley of spectator sports: it appeals to less feminine players, but it won’t lower the basket and shrink the ball to let them dunk. (Leslie Jones, the cheerful black giantess comedienne on Saturday Night Live, has a lot of fun with the fact that she has the perfect build for a WNBA power forward but not for much else.)

In gymnastics, men and women only do one event in common identically: the vault. (Obviously, the men are better at it.)

Both sexes do the floor exercise, but women are accompanied by music. (When the Atlanta 1996 Olympics put on an exhibition of medalists, the organizers insisted the men do floor routines to music. The American guy pointedly chose the least gay hit song in the history of the world, the R&B instrumental “Green Onions” by Booker T and the MGs.)

Females don’t do the upper body strength events like rings and pommel horse, but women do two events men don’t due to (quite reasonable) Castration Anxiety: the nerve-wracking balance beam and the spectacular uneven bars.

The U. of Utah has refined women’s gymnastics to make it a great in-person spectator sport: for example, unlike in the Olympics, only one apparatus at a time is in use so the crowd’s enthusiasm isn’t distracted from rooting on the home team’s girl. This spectator focus is easier to achieve in women’s than men’s gymnastics because women only compete in four events while men compete in six.

Utah’s coach has lots more suggestions for rule changes to make women’s gymnastics an even better spectator sport.


From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Liberation Rape

Next Tuesday marks the 100th anniversary of American movies as the premier pop cultural force on the planet. On March 3, 1915, director D.W. Griffith released The Birth of a Nation, an unprecedented epic about the Civil War and Reconstruction that commemorated the 50th anniversary of Appomattox and the assassination of Griffith’s hero, Abraham Lincoln. …

A little-noticed aspect of media power is the ability to decide what constitutes an anniversary and what doesn’t. Thus, the 100th birthday of Birth of a Nation went unmentioned at Sunday’s Academy Awards, despite the movie’s seemingly timely concern with the rape crisis of the late 1860s.

People have a difficult time avoiding either underreaction or overreaction to the threat of rape. It’s enormously shameful not to protect your womenfolk from rape, so dereliction of duty tends to incite fantasy and rage.

Read the whole thing there.


Yesterday, I pointed out that Patricia Arquette’s Academy Award acceptance comments sounded like a trial run of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 argument for electing her President: it’s the white moms’ turn, and all the trendier minorities need to return some favors. From the New York Times today, an article detailing how accurate that was.

Clinton ’16 Would Give Gender More of a Role Than Clinton ’08 Did

Ever since the birth of her granddaughter, in September, Mrs. Clinton has infused her public comments with references to being a new grandmother.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The last time Hillary Rodham Clinton ran for president, she seemed torn over whether to emphasize her chance to make history, or to play down her gender and reassure voters that she was tough enough for the job.

This time there is no question: Mrs. Clinton’s potential to break what she has called “the highest and hardest glass ceiling” is already central to her fledgling 2016 presidential campaign.

But rather than the assertive feminism associated with her years as first lady, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign message will be subtler. It will involve frequent references to being a mother and grandmother and to how her family has inspired her to embrace policies that she believes would help middle-class families.

… After a relatively quiet public schedule this year, Mrs. Clinton spoke at a women’s conference in Silicon Valley on Tuesday — the first in a series of addresses in the coming weeks focused on women. Ever since the birth of Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky, in September, Mrs. Clinton has infused her public comments with references to being a new grandmother.

And some of her longest-serving advisers are open about their intention not to repeat what they see as one of their most crucial mistakes from the 2008 primaries.

Ann Lewis, a senior adviser in that race, called the decision not to accentuate Mrs. Clinton’s gender — which ceded the mantle of barrier-breaker entirely to Barack Obama — the “biggest missed opportunity” of that primary contest. “It was not a major theme of the campaign,” Ms. Lewis said.

“I think she clearly understands this time the significance of having a woman president of the United States,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, who served as Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman in 2008. He added that Mrs. Clinton’s gender was “a tremendous asset.” …

In the same appearance, she described how her granddaughter’s birth made her even more invested in the country’s future; recalled being pregnant with Chelsea as a lawyer in Little Rock, Ark.; and described struggling as a young working mother.

“The family issue, putting family first, creating more supportive work environments,” Mrs. Clinton said, is “not a nice thing to do — this is a win-win” that she said was “bubbling to the top of the list” of issues on people’s minds.

The decision to run more emphatically as a female candidate is rooted in a strategic assessment of the demands of this campaign and of a changing country. With Republicans determined to portray Mrs. Clinton as an aging relic — she will turn 69 just before Election Day next year — her supporters believe her campaign offers a powerful rejoinder to the charge that she does not represent change. …

Perhaps even more important, though, is an emerging consensus that the cultural and political landscape has changed since 2008. With growing numbers of women atop major corporations, more female members of Congress than ever and the news media apt to pounce on misogyny or anything resembling it, the terrain on which Mrs. Clinton will run this time is likely to be noticeably more favorable when it comes to gender.

You know, Margaret Thatcher was became leader of the Tory Party on February 11, 1975, more than 40 years ago and was elected Prime Minister 36 years ago.

If Hillary wins a couple of terms, in 2023 we will still be reading the same articles about glass ceilings.

“Sexist attacks are much harder to get away with now,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily’s List, the advocacy group that seeks to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights. She noted the criticism that Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, received this month for shushing a female CNBC anchor during an interview.


Indeed, the people in Mrs. Clinton’s orbit have come to believe that gender is far more an advantage to her this time around, in part from seeing the degree to which some Republicans have hurt themselves in recent elections on subjects like rape.

Her 2016 campaign, they suggested, is far more likely to seize on opportunities to stoke outrage if someone asks, as a woman in the crowd did at one videotaped John McCain event in 2007, “How do we beat the bitch?”

Read that again, carefully.

In other words, Hillary’s campaign plans to seize upon the slightest provocation, such as a woman in a crowd referring to Hillary by the B word, to unleash the righteous wrath of the Social Media Justice Warriors upon the stale pale males of the Republican Party.

But that sounds so 2012. Our culture has moved far since then.

Consider the dominant response to Patricia Arquette’s little Oscar speech. Instead of some evil Republican man joking about how that just proves women don’t understand impersonal concepts such as the law of supply and demand, instead Arquette got shredded by the very SMJWs Hillary intends to mobilize to savage the Republicans in the fall.

Why? Because Arquette is a white breeder who wants to send black transwomen to the back of the bus.

Hillary’s strategy is to assume that she won’t have any opposition to speak of in the Democratic primaries, and then she can run against the Republicans and use the KKKrazy Glue of the Democratic coalition to bind all the fringe nuts to her out of hatred for the Evil White Male Republican candidate.

This may well work for her.

But what if it doesn’t? What if the fringes mobilize themselves early in 2016? In February 1967, LBJ was working on his strategy for how to beat the Republicans like a gong in November 1968. But he never got there.

What if the long Democratic primary season turns into festival of Democratic marginality with Hillary denounced as boring white bread by, say, two different flavors of BDS activists: Boycott, Divestiture, and Sanctions people plus Bondage, Domination, and Submission folks?


Some polling and focus group work has been done to see what immigration sanity phrases work best with voters. I’ll go over them in a series of posts this week.

Testing is very important in marketing. For example, I was a pretty good marketing researcher but, to my initial surprise, I was a terrible marketer. I’m good at generating ideas, but my tendency is to phrase them in ways that make them ironic, uncomfortable, sardonic, and generally off-putting (e.g., the song allusion in the title of this post), none of which is useful in reassuring the mass public.

Here’s the first of five phrases that have tested well:

Controlled immigration for the national interest. (“Controlled immigration” for short)

“Controlled” polls very well. It’s a little vague, however, so it’s best when reinforced by “national interest.”

One should never forget that, for most people, the idea that you can set immigration policy for the benefit of Americans is revolutionary.

Senator Sessions’ sub-committee is now called the committee on Immigration and National Interest. Also, Barbara Jordan used “national interest” in her testimony to Congress as the key metric in the 1990s.

As a phrase, “an immigration policy that cares first about Americans” is somewhat more popular, but has an unfortunate historical allusion.

• Tags: Immigration 

The basic idea behind Hillary Clinton’s run for the Presidency in 2016 is that while she’s kind of old and mediocre at politics, she is a woman, and it’s about time for a woman to be elected, and Hillary’s been waiting a long time, so who else are you gonna give it to?

At the 2015 Oscars, the Hillary stand-in role was played by Patricia Arquette. Patricia is a middle aged white mom lady, and she’s been doing this acting thing for a long time, and so it seemed like it’s about time she won something.

(Granted the Arquette clan (e.g., 1980s starlet Rosanna and former WCW World Heavyweight Professional Wrestling Champion David) had a weird upbringing — they were raised in one of those Indonesian Subud cult communes. But then what 40-something American movie star didn’t grow up in some hippie commune? … In contrast to English movie stars these day who were all groomed at Eton or Harrow …)

Upon receiving the Best Supporting Actress award for playing the mom in “Boyhood” (who never notices that her son would really like her to get back together with his dad now that dad has given up his hopeless singer-songwriter ambitions and is buckling down to pass his actuary exams), Arquette burst out into a passionate feminist denunciation of the Wage Gap, much to the approbation of Meryl Streep and the rest of the audience:

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

That’s not bad. You could imagine Hillary lifting a phrase or two.

Later Sunday evening, Arquette told the press:

“So the truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are applied that really do affect women. And it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

That’s pretty much Hillary’s argument in the 2016 primaries: she let the black lightweight off easy in 2008, so now, finally, it’s her turn. Right?

And then the trouble started for Arquette.

How dare a white suggest reciprocity? How can some white heterosexual suggest that blacks and gays and gay blacks owe anything to white feminists? And how dare she imply that having a uterus makes her a better woman than all the transwomen out there? And so forth and so on.

The coalition of the fringes is starting to look like a circular firing squad.

If you’re, say, Democratic donor Haim Saban, you’ve got to be getting worried about now. Everybody you were sitting with at the Oscars loved Patricia’s speech. Then you get home and check Twitter and each lunatic Democrat who, for some reason, cares about the Oscar broadcast without being invited is denouncing poor Patty as the embodiment of evil. Who are these people? What’s going on? We gave the Oscar to that black movie last year, and now the blacks think they deserve to win every year? What does that say for Hillary in 2016?

What’s wrong with Democrats?

Well, you know what’s wrong with Democrats. It’s that certain other Democrat, the one you spent so much to defeat in the 2008 primaries, who decided in 2012 to unleash the crazies to get himself re-elected. It’s getting harder and harder to stuff the nuts back in the jar.

You’d better buy Hillary the nomination fast, because otherwise the Democrats are starting to look like 1968 all over again. If this thing isn’t wrapped up soon, by the time of the Philadelphia Democratic convention Mayor Nutter’s cops will probably be brawling in the streets with anti-Hillary transsexual protesters. And the Democrat brand won’t look too good on TV to swing voters in Ohio.

Where’s the adult supervision? Is it too late to get together with Sheldon Adelson to draft Mike Bloomberg to run on both tickets?

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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