Obama Denounces ‘Special Interests’ At The University of Chicago . . . And Then Quietly Accepts $400,000 For First Speech From Wall Street Special InterestsPosted: April 26, 2017
President Barack Obama was at my alma mater yesterday and used his first public statements to decry how “special interests dominate the debates in Washington.” Then will now be setting off for his first speech . . . to Wall Street special interests at Cantor Fitzgerald, which will pay him $400,000. This is the same politician who called such banks “fat cats” who exercise undue influence over our leaders.
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Myriad intellectual viruses are thriving in academia. Carried by undereducated graduates, these viruses infect the nation’s civic culture.
George Will writes: In 2013, a college student assigned to research a deadly substance sought help via Twitter: “I can’t find the chemical and physical properties of sarin gas someone please help me.” An expert at a security consulting firm tried to be helpful, telling her that sarin is not gas. She replied, “yes the [expletive] it is a gas you ignorant [expletive]. sarin is a liquid & can evaporate … shut the [expletive] up.”
“College, in an earlier time, was supposed to be an uncomfortable experience because growth is always a challenge.”
— Tom Nichols, professor at the U.S. Naval War College and the Harvard Extension School
Tom Nichols, professor at the U.S. Naval War College and the Harvard Extension School, writing in The Chronicle Review, says such a “storm of outraged ego” is an increasingly common phenomenon among students who, having been taught to regard themselves as peers of their teachers, “take correction as an insult.” Nichols relates this to myriad intellectual viruses thriving in academia. Carried by undereducated graduates, these viruses infect the nation’s civic culture.
“Unearned praise and hollow successes build a fragile arrogance in students that can lead them to lash out at the first teacher or employer who dispels that illusion, a habit that carries over into a resistance to believe anything inconvenient or challenging in adulthood.”
— Tom Nichols
Soon the results include the presidential megaphone being used to amplify facially preposterous assertions, e.g., that upward of 5 million illegal votes were cast in 2016. A presidential minion thinks this assertion is justified because it is the president’s “long-standing belief.”
“College, in an earlier time,” Nichols writes, “was supposed to be an uncomfortable experience because growth is always a challenge,” replacing youthful simplicities with adult complexities. Today, college involves the “pampering of students as customers,” particularly by grade inflation in a context of declining academic rigor: A recent study showed “A” to be the most commonly awarded grade, 30 percent more frequent than in 1960.
“Rather than disabuse students of their intellectual solipsism,” Nichols says, “the modern university reinforces it.”
— Tom Nichols
And a 2011 University of Chicago study found that 45 percent of students said that in the previous semester none of their courses required more than 20 pages of writing and 32 percent had no class that required more than 40 pages of reading in a week. Read the rest of this entry »
The horrific deaths of Philando Castillo in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, give us an updated and up-close glimpse of police encounters gone bad—but they are rooted in decades of problematic policing in America. “Historically in this country, the police have never really been the friends of the black community,” says Neill Franklin, a former officer with the Baltimore Police Department and current executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P).
Franklin talked with Reason TV Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie at this year’s Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, Nevada, pointing out that slavery may have ended officially in the late 1800s, but a lot of policing was born out of that era and the one that followed, when police deliberately enforced laws in ways that targeted black citizens. Even today, police are tasked with enforcing laws—from driving without a license to missing a court date—that tend to target poor communities and communities of color.
“You know a $250 fine doesn’t mean much to people who have money,” says Franklin. “But when you enforce these policies in poor communities, a hundred dollar fine can devastate a family.” Read the rest of this entry »
The 21-year-old charged with posting threats to kill white students or staff members at the University of Chicago and was motivated by the police shooting of a black teenager was released from jail Tuesday and put under house arrest.
Authorities said Jabari Dean was responsible for a mass shooting threat that forced the University of Chicago to cancel classes Monday at the prestigious college to avenge the shooting death of a black teenager at the hands of a Chicago police officer last year. Read the rest of this entry »
Kyle Smith writes: What’s the deal with young people today? “They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist,’ ‘That’s sexist,’ ‘That’s prejudice,’” Jerry Seinfeld told ESPN’s Colin Cowherd this week. “They don’t know what the f—k they’re talking about.”
“I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.”
— Chris Rock
Comics are afraid to work on college campuses, Seinfeld said. To give an idea of how young people think, he cited a bizarre response his 14-year-old daughter made when his wife noted that the girl might want to go to New York City from the suburbs more often “So you can see boys.” The girl replied that the remark was “sexist,” her father said.
“There is a word…That word is illiberal; there is nothing ‘conservative’ about it.”
— Kyle Smith
The determination of the identity-politics obsessed to shut down speech on campus inspired a couple of hilarious one-liners in the past year. One was from The Onion: “College Encourages Lively Exchange of Idea: Students, Faculty Invited to Freely Express Single Viewpoint.” The other, though unintentionally funny, was equally amusing, and came from Chris Rock: “I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.”
There is a word for the move to ban a screening of 2014’s most popular movie, American Sniper (and replace it with Paddington), to hound a major university into rescinding its honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to punish someone with a Title IX investigation for the crime of questioning the wisdom of certain Title IX investigations, and designating a “safe space” to which to flee after failing to prevent a speech by Christina Hoff Sommers from taking place. Read the rest of this entry »
In Hollywood, and Real Life
Speaking of Girl Power…
Once upon a time, when I was a young teenager, I wanted to have a career in law enforcement.
Specifically, I wanted to be a Vice cop. Even more specifically, my mother freaked out telling me such things as, “Women shouldn’t be cops! What if you get shot? Why do you play those shooting video games so much?”
My desire to be a cop took a backseat to becoming an engineer but the image of what a firearm in the hands of a woman meant to me never went away.
Growing up as a kid in the late 70′s, I got a steady dose of such Blaxploitation films as Shaft, Dolemite, and the movie that would change my life forever: Foxy Brown. Pam Grier’s character in Foxy Brown instilled in me, at a young age, that while violence against women was not inevitable, a firearm proved to be an equalizer when the brute strength of a male perpetrator was used against you.
It also proved to be quite the crime deterrent. Fast forward to the slick ’80s. The female cop duo of Trudy Valentine and Gina Calabrese in Miami Vice further impressed on me that whether in the bright lights of the “normal” world or the grittiness of the underworld of drugs and prostitution, a firearm is the difference between protecting oneself and wearing a toe tag on a coroner’s table.
David French writes: Last weekend AEI’s Arthur Brooks published an interesting piece on happiness in the New York Times’ Sunday Review. I’d encourage you to read the whole thing, but this observation (taken from the comprehensive work of the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey) was particularly interesting and runs counter to perceptions fostered by pop culture:
For many years, researchers found that women were happier than men, although recent studies contend that the gap has narrowed or may even have been reversed. Political junkies might be interested to learn that conservative women are particularly blissful: about 40 percent say they are very happy. That makes them slightly happier than conservative men and significantly happier than liberal women. The unhappiest of all are liberal men; only about a fifth consider themselves very happy.
Fascinating. While I’ll let others comment on the happiness of conservatives, let’s address liberal men. Why are they so much less happy?
A core component of modern leftism is its comprehensive attack (and accompanying redefinition) of masculinity. This attack poisons how men experience their own nature, relationships, and purpose.
Kay S. Hymowitz writes: When I started following the research on child well-being about two decades ago, the focus was almost always girls’ problems—their low self-esteem, lax ambitions, eating disorders, and, most alarming, high rates of teen pregnancy. Now, though, with teen births down more than 50 percent from their 1991 peak and girls dominating classrooms and graduation ceremonies, boys and men are increasingly the ones under examination. Their high school grades and college attendance rates have remained stalled for decades. Among poor and working-class boys, the chances of climbing out of the low-end labor market—and of becoming reliable husbands and fathers—are looking worse and worse.
Economists have scratched their heads. “The greatest, most astonishing fact that I am aware of in social science right now is that women have been able to hear the labor market screaming out ‘You need more education’ and have been able to respond to that, and men have not,” MIT’s Michael Greenstone told the New York Times. If boys were as rational as their sisters, he implied, they would be staying in school, getting degrees, and going on to buff their Florsheim shoes on weekdays at 7:30 AM. Instead, the rational sex, the proto-homo economicus, is shrugging off school and resigning itself to a life of shelf stocking. Why would that be?
This spring, another MIT economist, David Autor, and coauthor Melanie Wasserman, proposed an answer. The reason for boys’ dismal school performance, they argued, was the growing number of fatherless homes. Boys and young men weren’t behaving rationally, the theory suggested, because their family background left them without the necessary attitudes and skills to adapt to changing social and economic conditions. The paper generated a brief buzz but then vanished. That’s too bad, for the claim that family breakdown has had an especially harsh impact on boys, and therefore men, has considerable psychological and biological research behind it. Anyone interested in the plight of poor and working-class men—and, more broadly, mobility and the American dream—should keep it front and center in public debate.
Eugene Fama, whoe “shared the economics prize for research into market prices and asset bubbles” with Robert Shiller and Lars Peter Hansen, told Reuters on Saturday that the markets may not find the debts of European nations and the United States to be credible.
“There may come a point where the financial markets say none of their debt is credible anymore and they can’t finance themselves,” he said. “If there is another recession, it is going to be worldwide.”
Peggy Noonan writes: The president’s problem right now is that people think he’s smart. They think he’s in command, aware of pitfalls and complexities. That’s his reputation: He’s risen far on his brains. They think he is sophisticated.
That is his problem in the health insurance debacle.
People have seen their prices go up, their choices narrow. They have lost coverage. They have lost the comfort of keeping the doctor who knows them and knows they tend to downplay problems and not complain of pain, and so doing more tests might be in order, or tend to be hypochondriacal and probably don’t need an echocardiogram, or at least not a third one this year.
At the very least people have been inconvenienced; at the most they’ve been made more anxious in an already anxious world. In a month, at the worst they may be on a gurney in an ER not knowing the answer to the question “Do you have insurance?” and hoping they can get into an exam room before somebody runs the number on the little green plastic card they keep in the back of their wallet.
Everyone understands in their own rough way that ObamaCare is a big mess. And that it’s not the website, it’s the law itself. They have seen systems crash. In the past 20 years they’ve seen their own computers crash. They know systems and computers get fixed.
But they understand a conceptual botch when they see one. They understand this new program was so big and complex and had so many moving parts and was built on so many assumptions that may or may not hold true, and that deals with so many people with so many policies—and they know they themselves have not read their own policies, for who would when the policies, like the law that now controls the policies, are written in a way that is deliberately obscure so as to give maximum flexibility to administrators in offices far away. And that’s just your policy. What about 200 million other policies? The government can’t handle that. The government can barely put up road signs. Read the rest of this entry »
While other forms of gambling are useful, none offers the opportunity to develop real world skills like poker.
Matthew Rousu writes: Organizations that oppose gambling will often claim that gambling has no benefits. This isn’t true. Beyond the enjoyment we experience, many forms of gambling can teach useful skills. Blackjack, for example, teaches us about odds, variance, and money management. Placing bets on horse racing can also teach people an enormous amount on odds and probabilities, as betting on different horses offers different payouts for winning. Even those with limited mathematical backgrounds quickly learn that betting $5 on a horse with 14-1 odds will pay them back $70 for a win. Similar skills can be learned with sports betting.
While these and some other forms of gambling can provide some skill development, none offers the opportunity to develop real world skills like poker. It seems fitting that the most glamorous of all gambling games can teach us so much. After all, Mark Twain spoke eloquently about poker and it’s been played regularly in the Oval Office by many presidents. It is estimated that 70-80 million Americans play poker. While some play for low stakes and some play for high stakes, Americans love this game that combines instinct, mathematical ability, psychology, and luck.
Robby Soave reports: A Tennessee high school senior is receiving widespread attention for an eloquent speech he made against Common Core at a school board meeting.
Ethan Young, a senior at Farragut High School in Knox County, Tenn., made an impassioned argument for dropping the new national education guidelines, which he called “a glowing conflict of interest … that illustrate a mistrust of teachers.”
“Somewhere our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves,” he said.
Young reserved particularly harsh judgment for the nationwide standardized testing required by Common Core.
“If everything I learned in high school was a measurable objective: I haven’t learned anything,” he said.
Harris-Perry set out to explain what is, by her lights, the failure to invest adequately in public education. She located the source of the problem in the insidious idea of parental responsibility for children.
“We’ve always had kind of a private notion of children,” she said, in the tone of an anthropologist explaining a strange practice she discovered when out doing far-flung fieldwork. “Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility.” So long as this retrograde conception prevails, according to Harris-Perry, we will never spend enough money on children. “We have to break through,” she urged, “our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes once wondered, “Why can’t somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks?” Harris-Perry’s contribution falls into the former category, at least within her orbit of left-wing academia (she teaches at Tulane University, after stops at Princeton and the University of Chicago) and journalism (she writes a column for The Nation as well as holding forth on MSNBC).
“We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families.”
Her statement wasn’t an aside on live television. She didn’t misspeak. The spot was shot, produced, and aired without, apparently, raising any alarm bells. No one with influence raised his or her hand and said, “Should we really broadcast something that sounds so outlandish?”
The foundation of the Harris-Perry view is that society is a large-scale kibbutz. The title of Hillary Clinton’s bestseller in the 1990s expressed the same point in comforting folk wisdom: “It Takes a Village.”
As the ultimate private institution, the family is a stubborn obstacle to the great collective effort. Insofar as people invest in their own families, they are holding out on the state and unacceptably privileging their own kids over the children of others. These parents are selfish, small-minded, and backward. “Once it’s everybody’s responsibility,” Harris-Perry said of child-rearing, “and not just the households, then we start making better investments.”
This impulse toward the state as über-parent is based on a profound fallacy and a profound truth. The fallacy is that anyone can care about someone else’s children as much as his own. The former Texas Republican senator Phil Gramm liked to illustrate the hollowness of professions to the contrary with a story. He told a woman, “My educational policies are based on the fact that I care more about my children than you do.” She said, “No, you don’t.” Gramm replied, “Okay: What are their names?”
The truth is that parents are one of society’s most incorrigible sources of inequality. If you have two of them who stay married and are invested in your upbringing, you have hit life’s lottery. You will reap untold benefits denied to children who aren’t so lucky. That the family is so essential to the well-being of children has to be a constant source of frustration to the egalitarian statist, a reminder of the limits of his power.
The socialist president of France, François Hollande, proposed a small corrective to its influence last year. He inveighed against homework for schoolchildren. Work, he said, “must be done in the [school] facility rather than in the home if we want to support the children and reestablish equality.” His education minister explained that the state should “support all students in their personal work, rather than abandon them to their private resources, including financial, as is too often the case today.”
The proposal went nowhere. If the Left wants to equalize the investments in children that matter most, it should promote intact families and engaged parents, even if it means embracing shockingly old-fashioned private child-rearing.
— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2013 King Features Syndicate
“Rudeness is the weak mans imitation of strength,” the longshoreman cum philosopher Eric Hoffer once observed. Hoffer died in 1983, so he probably wasnt referring specifically to Joe Bidens performance in last nights debate. Still, the observation is fitting.
In addition to the vice presidents boorishness, a lot of observers noted that he frequently smiled and chuckled at inappropriate times–even during a discussion of Irans pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Republican National Committee quickly put out an ad consisting of nearly a minute of such clips followed by the caption: “Vice President Biden is laughing . . . Are you?” If Biden finds himself out of work in January, he may have a career ahead of him as a Fixodent pitchman.
So whats with Dr. Strangelaugh? Lets ask an evolutionary biologist. In “Games Primates Play: The Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships,” Dario Maestripieri of the University of Chicago writes:
When two rhesus macaques are trapped together in a small cage, they try everything they can to avoid a fight. . . . To avoid immediate aggression, and to reduce stress, an act of communication is needed to break the ice and make it clear to the other monkey that no harm is intended or expected. Macaque monkeys bare their teeth to communicate fear and friendly intentions. If this “bared-teeth display”–the evolutionary precursor to the human smile–is well received, it can function as a prelude to grooming. One monkey brushes and cleans the others fur, gently massaging the skin while picking and eating parasites. This act can both relax and appease the other monkey, virtually eliminating the chance of an attack.So, if you are a rhesus macaque and find yourself trapped in a small cage with another macaque, you know what to do: bare your teeth and start grooming. If you are a human and find yourself riding in an elevator with a stranger, in theory you could do the same thing or the human equivalent thereof: smile and make small talk.
A smile is an instinctive gesture of submission. Often the submission is mutual, as when two friends exchange smiles or when Maestripieris strangers break into small talk on the elevator. But when a man uncontrollably smiles at a potential or actual adversary, it is a show of weakness…