The Ruling Class of America is not up to the challenge of leading America in the world, partly because it has engaged for several generations now in a process of reverse merit selection.
“Having been a college professor for many years I saw students become ever more confident of their own intelligence and their own preparation while they were becoming less able to do the most elementary things.”
As the ruling class wannabes, has beens, might’ve beens and I ams gather for today’s inauguration ceremony to offer laud and narcissistic supply to the most perfect exemplar of the ruling class that they have ever seen, Codevilla’s observations about the rapidly imploding ratio of competence to confidence among America’s elite are a breath of contrarian sanity.
“That’s what happens so often to ruling classes: they protect themselves against their competitors. Their greatest interest is in perpetuating their own cushy positions.”
The discussion is available here. Although the first section is devoted to foreign affairs and the second to the ruling class, this column will focus on the second of the two topics. What follows are my notes from the wide ranging and fascinating discussion. I hope you won’t limit yourself to my jottings about the conversation, but go on to the conversation itself. The following is a collection of paraphrased quotes from Codevilla.
“The Soviet system was completely closed. Our system becomes more closed as the years go on….today’s American ruling class differs from even a generation ago…now they come to the ruling class almost exclusively from the most prestigious universities and through institutions which are connected to government.”
Our ruling class has practiced negative selection for several generations now. I point you to a very, very interesting piece of research by a man called Ron Unz.
“Very few people now rise independent of the ruling class itself: you have to rise through the ruling class to get to the ruling class.”
Ron Unz, a wealthy entrepreneur, has just conducted interesting research on the admissions policies of America’s elite universities and has found that there is an iron quota against Asians in these universities: a limit of roughly 16 percent in these universities, even though the proportion of Asians relative to other ethnic groups among high achievers in the country has risen…they account for something like 40 percent of high achievers in the national merit scholar competition, national math and science competitions, etc.
“Our ruling class rules on the basis of sheer, unearned self-confidence. They are not up to running the nation, its economy, its markets, its school system, its philanthropies or its foreign affairs. It is a ruling class of pygmies who walk on stilts and call themselves giants. They are not giants and the moment the rest of us realize this, the long con is over.”
What you’ve got here is a ruling class in these universities which has perpetuated itself and has become more like itself, and has excluded alien elements. The element most excluded happens to be also the most numerous, which is to say ‘white non-Jewish Americans,’ and hence the overwhelming majority of high achievers. Yet the percentage of white non-Jewish admittees has continued to drop; there is especially a virtual absence of Christians among these admittees. The point being that this ruling class, which is increasingly styling itself as meritocratic, is anything but meritocratic and has renewed itself by cooption. Read the rest of this entry »
Under the law, passed by the Russian parliament this week, authorities can ban foreign NGOs and go after their employees, who risk up to six years in prison or being barred from the country
Russian President Vladimir Putin officially enacted a controversial law banning “undesirable” non-governmental organisations, the Kremlin said Saturday, in a move condemned by human rights groups and the United States.
“We are concerned this new power will further restrict the work of civil society in Russia and is a further example of the Russian government’s growing crackdown on independent voices and intentional steps to isolate the Russian people from the world.”
— State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf
The law allows authorities to bar foreign civil society groups seen as threatening Russia’s “defence capabilities” or “consitutional foundations” and go after local activists working with them, the Kremlin statement said.
Supporters presented the law as a “preventative measure”, necessary after the wave of Western sanctions put in place over the Ukraine conflict.
Under the law, passed by the Russian parliament this week, authorities can ban foreign NGOs and go after their employees, who risk up to six years in prison or being barred from the country.
It also allows them to block the bank accounts of the organisations until the NGOs “account for their actions” to the Russian authorities.
Lawmakers cited the need to stop “destructive organisations” working in Russia, which could threaten the “value of the Russian state” and stir up “colour revolutions”, the name given to pro-Western movements seen in some former Soviet republics over the last several years.
Critics have said that the vague wording of the law—which gives Russia’s general prosecutor the right to impose the “undesirable” tag without going to court—could allow officials to target foreign businesses working in Russia. Read the rest of this entry »
“What is the president’s reaction? You say what matters is not where he is. He’s had no reaction — he’s had no reaction to anything that I can tell in the last six months.”
— Charles Krauthammer
Via The Corner: Charles Krauthammer harshly criticized President Barack Obama for his reaction, or lack thereof, to the news that an airliner was shot down in Ukraine today. The president needs to ”make a damned decision for once in his life,” Krauthammer said, and agree to help arm the Ukrainian military.
“The rebels and the Russians are killing the Ukrainians in large numbers by shooting them out of the sky. The least the president can do is . . . announce that we are now going to supply lethal weapons to assist the Ukrainians in defending themselves..”
“What is the president’s reaction?” Krauthammer asked fellow panelist Juan Williams, who expressed skepticism that the president’s continuing with his normal schedule today was blameworthy…(read more)
That may all be about to change as Russians and fellow travellers can now show their devotion to the President of Russia with a gold-plated iPhone hand engraved with a portrait of Mr Putin.
The Italian-Russian-owned company Caviar Perna Penna which normally creates alligator skin and diamond-encrusted handsets has made the phone for sale in Russia for 147,000 roubles (£2,500) – it comes with its own display case and accessories.
The back of the phone is made of 18-carat gold, and below the portrait of President Putin there is a quote from the Russian National Anthem and the double-headed eagle – Russia’s coat of arms.
In a press release, the firm says that the gadget is aimed at ‘patriotic senior government officials and top executives’.
‘It’s time to feel genuine pride and express your position clearly, without further ado.
‘President Vladimir Putin has become a symbol of the new generation, a strong-willed and decisive leader.’
The manufacturers claim that the Caviar Supremo Putin phone is ‘the best way to express patriotism’ for people who move ‘in the highest circles, in which devotion to the homeland will never be an empty shell’…(read more)
Charles Krauthammer said President Obama’s approach to foreign policy shows that his view of human nature is lacking.
“He has trouble understanding that other countries have national interests,” he said. “And they do want to dominate other countries. He said that’s not how people act in this century. It is how people act in this century, and every century back to the Stone Age.”
It’s not going to happen.
Even so, American ground troops are being deployed there as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. This is the West telling him STOP. He’s not going to invade a European Union or NATO state either way, but we’d end up sending a crazy-weak signal if all we did was collectively shrug.
“Even an unspoken threat of invasion, occupation, and annexation is enough to make Ukraine act with tremendous caution toward Moscow, but if Putin pulls the trigger, Kiev would have nothing left to lose.”
Ukraine still isn’t in NATO, however, and probably never will be, so it’s still vulnerable. Putin can slice it and dice it all over again. The US won’t physically stop him for the same reason he won’t invade Poland. Nobody wants to blow up the world, especially not over this.
So Ukraine’s vulnerable. Pro-Russian militiamen are occupying dozens of government buildings, city halls, and police stations in the eastern part of the country where many ethnic Russians live. It’s hard to say for sure if Putin is egging these people on or if they’re acting on their own, envious of their cousins in Crimea who got to go “home” without moving. Either way, they’re serving Putin’s agenda.
By annexing Crimea, he proved to the world that he’s willing to mutilate Ukraine when it displeases him, which it very much did when it cast off his vassal, Viktor Yanukovych, in February. Read the rest of this entry »
Putin’s use of Soviet-era symbolism has alarmed those already fearful for the country’s democratic institutions
Kathrin Hille writes: Igor Dolutsky finds nothing unusual in disagreeing with everyone around him. In the 35 years he has been teaching history in Moscow schools, his habit of questioning official narratives and challenging political taboos has cost him his job more than once.
“I would argue that for years we have been seeing what you could call the Nazification of the elite.”
— Igor Yakovenko, former head of the Russian Journalists’ Association
But when the mild-mannered 60-year-old tried to discuss Russia’s annexation of Crimea in class, things almost got out of hand. “My students swore at me and said I wasn’t telling the truth,” he says. “Then they said I didn’t love Russia or the Russian people, and told me to leave the country.”
Mr Dolutsky has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s government. Ten years ago the government pulled his history textbook from the curriculum for its critical description of President Putin and its inclusion of unpalatable facts about Soviet history. Today he teaches in a private school, headed by a friend from his university days, which allows Mr Dolutsky to continue to talk about the Soviet Union’s occupation of the Baltic states, discuss whether Russia committed genocide in Chechnya and label Mr Putin’s changes to the political system a coup d’état.
But Moscow’s annexation of Crimea has set off rapid and drastic changes that threaten to submerge such outposts of dissent. In a speech marking the consummation of Russia’s union with the Black Sea peninsula on March 18, Mr Putin lashed out against a “fifth column” of “national traitors” enlisted by the west to subvert Russia. He vowed to respond forcefully. Read the rest of this entry »
Another revealing article about the President of the United States of Fantasyland. How the U.S. and its allies can tolerate this for three more years remains a mystery…
Mark Salter writes: For the briefest of moments Thursday, a certain cable news network stopped breathlessly reporting on the missing Malaysian airliner as if its disappearance is a harbinger of the end times, and turned to another news story of more lasting importance, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“…five-plus years of a mostly rhetorical foreign policy, where the president seeks to woo the world with words, but where deeds rarely follow and wishful thinking passes for strategy.”
A brief summary of the dreary news of the day from that embattled nation ended with a mention of some thuggish behavior by extremists who represent a small faction of Ukrainian nationalists. The incident provoked a comment from the show’s host. I can’t find a transcript of the remarks, but as best I remember it went something like this: We’ve been told the Russians are the bad guys and the Ukrainians are the good guys but things are never as simple as we’re told. Sometimes America supports some pretty bad people.
Well, one thing is certain. Things are never as simple as many cable news hosts try to make them out to be. But in this instance, contrary to the opinion stated above, the conflict essentially is a contest between good and bad.
[VIDEO] More Sunday Talk Show Fun: Darth Vader Emerges, Says ‘No Question Putin Thinks Obama Is Weak’Posted: March 9, 2014
“I think there’s no question [Putin] believes he is weak . . . ,” the former vice president told Face the Nation. “We have created an image around the world, not just to the Russians, of weakness and indecisiveness.”
Getting the Cold War wrong since 1983
For NRO, Jonah Goldberg writes: Things are moving far too fast in Kiev, Moscow, and Crimea to write about events there. But the past isn’t going anywhere. Though you wouldn’t know that from the way the Obama administration talks about it.
Throughout this crisis — indeed, throughout all of Barack Obama’s presidency — the White House has been eager to insist that our long, unpleasant history with the Russians is behind us.
“…the truth is Obama’s hostility to Romney’s policies had little to do with their being outdated. Obama didn’t like America’s Cold War policies during the Cold War.”
Obviously, every administration wants a fresh start with long-time rivals. That’s why there have been four “resets” with the Russians since 1991, including George W. Bush’s famous soul-searching gaze into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and Hillary Clinton’s comic effort to give the Russians a “reset” button (that actually said “overcharge” on it).
Fresh starts are fine. But when Obama came into office, his administration implicitly blamed our poor relationship with Russia on Bush, as if Russia’s misdeeds were provoked by America.
Obama wants Ukraine to settle down so he can get back to campaigning
Neil Munro writes: President Barack Obama says he’s hoping to “deescalate” the Crimean crisis, which would help him focus on his top priority — escalating U.S. political fights so his base turns out to vote in November.
By advancing into the Crimean region of the Ukraine, “the Russians are engaging in a fundamental breach of international law,” Obama told donors Tuesday night. ”We may be able to deescalate over the next several days and weeks, but it’s a serious situation and we’re spending a lot of time on it,” he said at a fundraiser in McLean, Va. Obama did not tell the donors that he hoped to reverse the Russian takeover.
“We are really good at presidential elections these days, if I do say so myself…but midterms are a problem…We don’t fund campaigns as passionately…“
The modest goal of deescalation reflects Obama’s desire to downgrade the crisis. In recent days, he’s tried to downplay the prospect of a further escalation. He’s also tried to rally European leaders to impose some sanctions on Russian trade and banking, and on travel by wealthy Russians.
Obama’s main focus during the fundraiser was boosting Democratic turnout in the midterm elections.
UPDATE: and from London, 12.13am GMT:
The BBC’s indomitable Nick Sutton, nightly tweeter of tomorrow’s Fleet Street front pages, notes that Ukraine leads on most.
Among them, The Sun has its own characteristic take on the crisis.
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) March 2, 2014
“Russian forces now have complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula, some 6,000-plus airborne and naval forces, with considerable materiel,” the official said in a briefing for reporters. “There is no question that they are in an occupation position in Crimea…”
Breitbart Sports reports: The United States men’s hockey team beat the Russians in a thrilling, riveting, and classic contest in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Sochi Games 34 years after the US’s “Miracle on Ice” win at Lake Placcid.
The Americans won 3-2 on Saturday after the eighth round of the overtime shootout that saw Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stonewall the Russians while St. Louis’s T.J. Oshie, selected in part because of his skills in the shootout, took six of the eight shootout attempts in overtime, converting on four, including the game winner. Oshe took all five shots for the U.S. when the shootout when into extra rounds.
John Fund writes: We didn’t need the Olympics to be reminded that Vladimir Putin still has a soft spot for his nation’s defunct Communist system. In 2009, Russian state television aired a documentary called “The Wall.” It detailed how, as a KGB major in Dresden in 1989, he faced down a crowd of East German dissidents who tried to storm the local KGB office and steal its files.
“Putin succeeded in persuading the crowd to fall back,” the documentary’s maker gushed.
Russian state television had aired another program claiming that Putin brandished a pistol and told the crowd: “This is Soviet territory and you’re standing on our border. I’m serious when I say that I will shoot trespassers.”
Putin has never lost his Commie-stalgia. In 2005, he used his “state of the nation” address to tell Russians that “the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. . . . As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy.”
If that weren’t enough proof, the Sochi Olympic Games opened last Friday with a lavish choreographed tour of Russian history. The 20th century was depicted as a time of rapid industrialization, symbolized by a hammer and a sickle floating above the performers. There wasn’t even a hint of the horrors of Stalinism or the deaths it caused.
Daniel Pipes writes: The stabbing murder on October 10 of an ethnic Russian, Yegor Shcherbakov, 25, apparently by a Muslim from Azerbaijan, led to antimigrant disturbances in Moscow, vandalism and assaults, and the arrest of 1,200. It brought a major tension in Russian life to the fore.
Not only do ethnic Muslims account for 21–23 million of Russia’s total population of 144 million, or 15 percent, but their proportion is fast growing. Alcoholism-plagued ethnic Russians are said to have European birth rates and African life-expectancy, with the former just 1.4 per woman and the latter 60 years for men. In Moscow, ethnic Christian women have 1.1 children.
In contrast, Muslim women bear 2.3 children on average and have fewer abortions than their Russian counterparts. In Moscow, Tatar women have six children and Chechen and Ingush women have ten on average. In addition, some 3 to 4 million Muslims have moved to Russia from ex-republics of the USSR, mainly Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan; and some ethnic Russians are converting to Islam.