Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The New York Times published yet another editorial proposing amnesty for illegal immigrants, along with asserting that illegals have a right to conduct their day-to-day activities here without fer of prosecution, and that local law enforcement should do nothing whatsoever about illegal immigration. You can find this editorial at:

Here's my response:

This editorial argues by anecdote. Anecdotes can illustrate an argument, but they can't prove it.

For every anecdote of illegals as innocent victims of Americans, you can find an anecdote of Americans as innocent victims of illegals. None of those anecdotes finds its way into this editorial, however. Nor does a single statistic. Nor does empirical reasoning.

All of which makes this editorial pure propaganda, playing on readers' heartstrings through a one-sided sob story treatment of a difficult issue, using loaded language to tilt the playing field even further. (Such as renaming illegal aliens "undocumented immigrants", which strips away the taint of trespass.)

It all works because even among the college educated, many get their BAs without any real exposure to scientific logic, quantitiative analysis, or training in how to spot propaganda and avoid being manipulated by it.

Once you scrape away the propagandizing, here's what this editorial claims:

1. The nation is inundated with hate crimes against illegals. (False—the FBI reported 7,622 hate crimes last year, meaning that 0.003% of the population is committing such crimes; and that number is down from 2006.)

2. Illegals are afraid to talk to police for fear of being deported, so crimes against them going unpunished. (Plausible, but also due to illegals coming from countries where police prey on you instead of helping you, and from countries that don't speak English; moreover, the offsetting value of local law enforcement helping rid America of illegals isn't even considered.)

3. Illegals are here to stay; we're powerless to expel them; therefore we must give them citizenship to avoid creating a permanent underclass. (The Left hopes that people will come to believe this trope through sheer repetition; but in fact, adopting E-Verify universally would make it impossible for illegals to work here other than as pick-up labor in front of Home Depots; and adopting a universal biometric ID system would force most illegals to go home the same way they got here.)

4. It's immoral to "tear families apart." (By this logic we mustn't arrest thieves with families; and of course illegals' families are welcome to leave with them. Moreover, those families are the product of the decisions of the illegals themselves, not us. It's called "responsibility." Look it up.)

5. Illegals have rights, just like the rest of us. (They have basic human rights, but they don't have the right to be here, nor to be paid for their labor, because it was illegal for them to do that labor for money in the first place. Nor do they have the right to "congregate in public places without fear" because, again, they don't have the right to be here, because they're trespassing.)

7. Local law enforcement should concentrate on keeping "off the books businesses from eroding pay and conditions for all workers." (You bet—but the easiest way to do that is through E-Verify and a universal biometric ID system, neither of which you mention or advocate, and without which local law enforcement is denied its best means of accomplishing this.)

This editorial's emotional appeal betrays total callousness towards the main victims of illegals: working-class Americans of all races and ethnicities, whose already low wages have been driven below the poverty line by competition from illegals.

For shame.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Obama's economics team--compromise we need

Republicans are generally rationalizing their reverses--at least in public. But it seems reasonable to suppose that members of past administrations who've signed onto the Obama administration will feel freer to admit past mistakes.

And while these centrist choices might not be the very best economic thinkers on the planet, Obama needs both good people AND people who can gain cooperation from both Democrats and Republicans.

If he practices the same majoritarian philosophy that the Republicans did for past eight years we're less likely to get the reforms we need.

Hillary Clinton's single payer medical plan was the best for the country, but she and her husband went at it from a majoritariam stance and the Republicans were able to defeat it (using their usual dirty tricks).

So though we may not get what we want...we'll get what we need this way (apologies to the Rolling Stones).

It's just weird to see someone who actually may be a uniter, not a divider.

Now if only he can finesse amnesty for illegal immigrants so that he doesn't enrage Americans of Latin descent while protecting working-class Americans from the wage-diminishing, union-busting tactics the boss class uses illegals to accomplish.

And since the plurality of independent who elected Obama pretty unanimously oppose amnesty for illegals, he'll need even greater skill than he's shown so far with the economy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Answering a Euro indictment of the US

This from a forum on The Guardian newspaper in the UK regarding Somali piracy:

Before he got down to critiquing my proposal--an elaboration of a Guardian op-ed piece advocating military action to stop Somali piracy--one commentor issued a classic leftist Euro indictment of America. My comments in brackets.

>>Nov 22 08, 12:17pm (about 7 hours ago)

>>...I can see that you have a modicum of intelligence blinded only by an
>>immediate recourse to violence in situations where the world doesn't work
>>in the way you would prefer.

[That would be Mr. Bush, not me. A majority of American voters--including me--voted for Gore in 2000, and around 48%--including me--voted for Kerry in 2004. But since Mr. Bush is a majoritarian, he completely ignored the wishes of half the country for 6years and has only barely acknowledged our existence--except as, basically, traitors--for the last 2. So when you say "America" relative to our international activities for the last 8 years, you're really only referring to the half of the country who, to this day, believe that Saddam Hussein planned the 9/11 attack, believe that we did not evolve, believe that Barack Obama is either a Muslim or some other non-Christian. How'd you like it if I characterized all of the UK by the ideas of its bottom half?

Personally I favor Polonius' advice to his son in regard to violence:

"Beware Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee."]

>>Now maybe this is a consequence of your being a member of a militarised society,

[Actually, since abolishing the draft, most of American society is almost completely untouched by our foreign wars. Only a few percent of our society comprises military families, mostly from poorer, rural areas. I advocate reinstating draft, actually. Then people would be voting to put their own children in harm's way. At worst we're a nation of chickenhawks--like the Draft Dodger in Chief who "leads" us currently.]

>>but I have a feeling that at the bottom of your aggressive attitude lies a deep intolerance for those of alternative beliefs.

[Tolerance is a great virtue within a civilization. It's probably the core value of a civilized society. However, society must be defended against those who won't live by the rules the rest of us abide by. We don't tolerate those who do or abet, for example, so-called honor killings, female genital mutilation (done to 99% of Somali girls by their own parents BTW), rape, so-called child prostitution, bribery of public officials, murder of those who insult someone's religion, bombing commuter trains because you have social grievances, etc. Those I don't tolerate. How 'bout you?]

>>That you fail to calculate that YOUR country created the mess it is in now be
>>it Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, Iran, Venezuela, Russia &the many
>>other countries around the world alienated from western democratic forms.

[So if America suddenly vanished or had never existed, those countries would promptly adopt democratic governments? Dream on.]

>>So much of the responsibility for anti-democratic hostility lies in
>>the (fairly accurate ) perception that you claim not to be a colonial power yet you colonise,

[Colonization means your people going to live there, permanently, in large numbers. We did that in Hawaii, & nowhere else. Right now Mexico's doing it to us. Feel free to accuse us of, say, financial exploitation of other countries. But whatever it is isn't colonization.]

>>you claim to be democratic yet your elections are fixed,

[Iran's elections are fixed. Ours are skewed somewhat by various forms of trickery, but it's not enough to change results more than 1-2%. That's what happened in 2000. Fortunately Obama won decisively enough to overcome such trickery. And, unlike many countries, we abide by the results of our elections.]

>>you claim to believe in free trade but you insist on restrictive trade conditions with poor countries whom you have exploited.

[True and shameful, but exactly as true of the EU, as your poor nation trading partners will be glad to tell you. And BTW there's no such thing as free trade and never will be. What we all should seek is fair trade that does right by both trading partners.]

I suppose it's emotionally satisfying to turn a person or country into the boogeyman you can blame everything on, and the most powerful nation in the history of the planet is surely a tempting target. And as the world's oldest continuous democracy, we have creaky electoral mechanisms in need of reform...and when we sneeze, you catch cold. So I get it.

Still, what about Somali piracy? Even if everything you say were true, and even if stopping it now would have disadvantageous consequences...what are our alternatives? Do enlighten us.

Is "Islamofascism" a naughty word?

Is "Islamofascism" a naughty word?

Fascism: "1. a philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible repression of opposition. 2. a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control."
--Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed.

The only stretch of this definition is adding "or religion" to "exalts nation and often race." That seems perfectly reasonable to me. "If it quacks like a duck..."

The term Islamofascism implies that it's a type of Islam, which it is, as exercised by the Taliban, by Al Qaeda, and by Wahhabism in general, as well as by the Shiite autocracy in postrevolutionary Iran--as opposed to, for example, the moderate Islam practised by a majority of Indonesians in the largest Muslim country on Earth.

It's not an indictment of Islam. Anything but, actually, since the term itself implies that "fascism" only characterized a particular type of Islam, not all Islam.

And of course there are fascistic strains/movements in pretty much all countries/movements/races/religions. The Soviet Union exemplified fascistic communism. There's a Dominion movement here in America that seeks to replace America's government with a Christian theocracy. Hindu fascism in India has grown greatly in recent decades, resulting in the persecution and murder of Christian Indians in some parts of India. Iran's mullahs have distorted traditional Shiite thought radically to create a fascist Shiite state there--something most earlier Shiites would have been amazed by.

Fascism even shows itself in small ways. Here in California we just passed an initiative banning homosexual marriage. You could claim that was fascistic. But opponents to this initiative habitually stole and destroyed lawn signs advocating the initiative. And that was what could only be called "liberal fascism."

In Somalia it evinces itself in a variety of ways--notably in the case of a 13 old girl recently tortured to death for the crime of having been raped, in a region now in control of Islamofascists. The Guardian reported this story, I believe.

Self-styled liberals abhor the term "Islamofascism" as being ethnocentric and demeaning to Muslims. And to be sure ethnocentrist people who dislike Muslims use it that way.

But that doesn't mean the term isn't accurate--just that, like pretty much all the terms in every language, it can be misused.

But just because you can use a hammer to bludgeon someone instead of driving nails doesn't mean that "hammer" isn't a valid term--or tool. Blame the misuser, where the fault lies.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Posting to The Guardian (UK) re: Somali pirates

So many posters here have so much to say about America, perhaps it's time for an actual American to weigh in. Better still, I'm in the group that represents a plurality of voters--that is, those who identify themselves as neither conservative nor liberal, but as moderate/centrist/independent.

When you talk about America doing this or that on the world stage, please note that we've just experienced 8 years of majoritarian rule by people who are essentially monarchists.

Majoritarians believe that if you got 50.001% of the vote you're entitled to act as though you got 100% of the vote--winner take all. Actually they believe you can act that way even if you got a minority of the popular vote, as long as you won--as happened in 2000.

So until the other side won a majority in Congress in 2006, 49% of American voters had no say whatsoever in the conduct of our government .

And since the 2004 election the vast majority of Americans have concluded that invading Iraq was badly botched, whether or not there was any initial justification. Ditto Somalia, to the extent anyone even realizes Somali exists.

Unfortunately our system of electing national legislators and a president has become skewed towards radicals of the left and right. The causes stem from the fact that as one of world's first democracies our electoral system is now about 200 years out of date, with entrenched forces resisting all attempts to update the system. If you want to understand the hurdles we face, look up Gerrymandering for a start.

The upshot is that while a majority of Americans are pragmatic and moderate, we tend to get governments which are neither, to both our and your disadvantage.

If you take advantage of the imploded dollar and visit America, you'll find it to be probably the most multicultural, accepting country on Earth--especially California, where I've lived all my life. For example, one neighboring family is a German physicist and his very dark-skinned African-Indian wife. They tried living in both Germany and South Africa, and only found complete acceptance here, both for themselves and their daughter.

Also please note that America just elected a Black president whose middle name is Hussein. In what other Western democracy has a comparable electoral event happened?

That said, allow me to comment on this article and the ensuing thread.

All large international problems--including Somali piracy--have complex historical roots and simpler immediate issues.

I'd compare it with forest fires. Such fires often stem from the buildup of duff on the forest floor due to indiscriminate firefighting and inadequate brush removal. That's a long-term problem which has long-term solutions. However, if the resulting conflagration threatens a community with thousands of inhabitants, government must stop the fire from reaching that community, regardless of how the fire was caused.

Thus we can argue about the causes of Somali piracy and the long-term solutions needed to address the problems that such failed states represent. Meanwhile, though, we have an immediate problem that threatens the peace and security of the high seas.

Bringing a quick end to rampant Somali piracy probably will do nothing to solve Somalia's problems. But that's a separate issue. Regardless of Somalia's internal issues, which are severe, Somali piracy must be stopped.

Those on this forum who downplay the importance of this problem fail to understand the foundations of civilization. It's not democracy, though I love living in a democracy. It's the fact that I'm sitting in my home typing on my laptop with my windows open to the world and my front door unlocked, because I live in a safe, peaceful neighborhood. That's what makes everything else possible.

Such stuff is so unexciting most people don't even notice how much they benefit from it--until it vanishes.

I've traveled extensively in the third world and seen how people live in countries where the police are not on your side, but are simply the armed guards of those who prey on the rest of society; where traffic rules exist but are not obeyed; where national parks are free-fire zones for poachers; where nothing that involves government happens unless you bribe everyone you deal with; where you're only physically safe if you live in a gated community and only venture out with guards accompanying you.

Whether you like the ships and the shippers and their cargo or not, we all benefit from them all being able to conduct their operations safely.

I'd advocate a high-tech blockade of Somali ports maintained by UAV reconnaissance drones backed by hunter/killer drones. All ships leaving port get boarded and searched. All small vessels carrying armed men--easily spotted with night vision optics on the drones--get sunk by hunter drones.

No one should advocate killing others lightly, and I don't. But failure to engage the enemy leads to more death in the long run, and by innocents, which counts for much more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pirates off Somalia

Currently pirates are capturing commercial vessels--including supertankers--at a rate of eight a month or more, and using the humongous ransoms ship owners are paying to finance motherships and teams of very well-armed pirates, along with support from local poo-bahs on land who want in on the loot.

The pirates got started with a legitimate gripe: foreign trawlers were clearing the seafloor of fish and everything else, leaving nothing for Somali fishermen. So some of them went after the trawlers. But now they're capturing anything worth capturing.

The shipowners would rather pay million-dollar ransoms than pay for putting squads of armed guards on their ships. But this isn't just their problem. The loot collected by the pirates is helping to protract the instability of Somalia, as warlords use it to extend their fiefdoms, and the black economy worldwide preys on the white economy--that is, legal trade.

We need to get the UN to declare the seas off Somalia a UN mandate until Somalia gets a real government, and authorize nations from India to the US to patrol the area. Many are now patrolling there but they don't know what to do with pirates even when they do capture them, and due to the reluctance of the shipowners to authorize force, they haven't tried to recapture ships the pirates have grabbed.

And now the pirates are venturing far beyond Somalia waters to capture ships, using motherships financed by previous fines.

The civilized world needs to forbid firms from paying ransoms and authorize warship captains to judge captured pirates on the spot, with the penalty being death at sea, after making sure the Somalis know this is what we're going to do. The UN mandate should also ban foreign fishing vessels from Somali waters and confiscate foreign fishing vessels found in those waters. Any Somali boat not from the Somali government and containing men with automatic weapons, RPGs or similar military ordnance should be considered a pirate vessel, with the vessel sunk and the men executed and buried at sea, without notice to the Somali mainland.

There's a huge area to guard--more than any navy can do. However, we can extend our reach greatly with UAVs equipped with night vision/infrared cameras (to spot human body heat). We could fly numerous reconnaisance UAVs at relatively low cost. When a pirate is spotted, Predator UAVs can be sent to the location to sink the boats, when found and ID'd as pirate vessels. The UAVs wouldn't patrol vast tracts of open sea--they'd patrol the Somali coast, following any vessels that set out from the Somali coastline.

The idea is that pirates go out to sea and never come back, and no one in Somalia ever finds out what happened to them. This would be the best deterrent.

Finally, we must retake captured vessels. That's the sort of thing Navy Seals are trained to do. The difficulties of patrolling such a huge area means that we won't be able to stop this problem unless we do this--unless we deny the enemy any victories.

Businesses are innately pacifistic. The shipowners won't want what I'm suggesting here. But civilization means guaranteeing the safety of citizens and of commerce. Without such a guarantee nothing else matters much.

Let's give Somalia its fish--and take our ships back.

silver card visa

Some real estate groups have proposed something called a silver card visa--this would be like a permanent tourist card visa. It would go to people who want to retire here on money they bring here. I think that's a great idea, and I'd give them a path to citizenship as well.

Educated, well-off retirees--sure beats day laborers with less than a high school education.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Japanese reaction to Obama

This entry was a comment on a Washington Post article discussing Japanese reactions to Obama (the photo is of one of many signs on businesses in Japan excluding foreigners--a growing trend):

I recall riding on a Tokyo subway back in '81. Every single person on that subway car--other than my spouse & me--had the same color hair, eyes, skin, and, roughly, height. And every single man was wearing a white--and I mean snow-colored white--shirt and a black tie.

Heck, even Japanese nonconformists operate in identically-costumed groups.

Any society that homogeneous and that isolated (i.e. on a string of islands) is bound to be racist, and the Japanese are, in spades.

How could it be otherwise? Rural Britain is no different. The difference is that urban Japan is no different--just quieter.

Their self-obsessed exceptionalism has also resulted in their inability, as a people, to own up to their part in WWII, in stark contrast to the German people.

I wasn't an enthusiastic Obama supporter because he believes Mexico's ruling elite should be allowed to outsource its homegrown overpopulation crisis to America. But I voted for him after McCain picked a vice-presidential candidate who was spectacularly unqualified to serve as President.

So from that perspective I'd say to the many right-wing posters on this thread: I can't prove it but rather than thinking that the Japanese response to Obama having nothing to do with racism, I'm more inclined to think that the paranoid frenzy of your opposition to him does have something to do with racism. Obama won because your leaders robbed us blind for six years and saddled us with multigenerational debts, and because you gave us precisely the gigantic, self-dealing, uncaring, incompetent, arrogant government you warned us about. Become actual Republicans again and the plurality of moderates will listen to you again.

Inserting these sour-grapes screends into a thread about Japan accomplishes nothing but making you sound like a bunch of whiners unable to man up and reform the Grasping Old Party.

As for Japan--I've been to Japan, as I indicated, and I've also studied the sociology of Japan for decades.

Japanese popular culture today is rife with the sorts of images of blacks that America sported in the 1930s.

But it's not just blacks. The Japanese are prejudiced against Japanese whose skins are slightly darker than other Japanese. You'll still see some Japanese women (mainly older, I'll admit) marching around on sunny days carrying parasols.

My brother was stationed on Okinawa during the Vietnam war, and he told me even the houses of ill repute there were segregated, with separate ones servicing black soldiers.

BTW the Japanese also consider themselves to be a different race than other Asians. Books are regularly published discussing how Japanese have different brains than other humans.

So it's both racism and exceptionalism.

I do cut them a little slack given their situation--they live with a level of racial and cultural homogeneity few Americans outside of, perhaps, Appalachia could imagine. They don't get many tourists because it's so expensive. They don't have many immigrants to multiculturalize them. They do have some thousands of Brazilians living in Japan--Brazilians who are the offspring of Japanese who'd emigrated to Brazil. So they're 100% Japanese racially, although they're Brazilian culturally. And they're generally not very accepted.

So I'm sure a fair number of rural Japanese perceive President-Elect Obama as some sort of talking monkey, while urbane Japanese give no voice to their thoughts but feel a sense of unease about him that stems from his race. Or, rather, his mixed race.

Note that mixed-race Japanese have a tough time of it--especially if there's a black in the mix.

This is the land where a popular saying goes "the nail that sticks up gets pounded down."

Obama's presidency will be good for them...even if they don't realize it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Affirmative action, GOP style

Federalists (nearly all of them Republicans) praise the Electoral College because it implements federalism. Federalism has states picking presidents, not us. The enemy philosophy is apparently populism, where the people pick the presidents (as in most democracies).

Federalists must despise Abraham Lincoln, who prayed "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Federalists would have Lincoln saying "that government of the states, by the states, for the states…"

Federalism gave us the U.S. Senate, in which each California senator's vote represents 60 times as many people as one Wyoming senator's vote. It also gave us an electoral system in which three California voters have less say in picking a president than one Wyoming voter.

Smaller states tend to be more conservative than larger ones (Hawaii and Texas notwithstanding), making the Electoral College an affirmative action program for Republicans. In the last election it took 104 Democrats to produce the same number of electors as 100 Republican voters. In a close election—such as in 2000—that's all the Republican Party needed (along with an activist Supreme Court).

But the real irony is that the Electoral College no longer preserves states' rights. Now only the priorities of a few "battleground states" count. The rest—including California—have become little more than ATMs for both parties, with up to 49% of voters in such states feeling disenfranchised.

What worked in 1798 has become dramatically out of date.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Some blacks need racism pt. 2

Among those clinging to Oldthink is the Black Left. Just last night on News & Notes, the NPR Black News program, a panel of Black illuminati were claiming America is a "White supremacist society." This only a day after Obama won the presidency. A lot of Blacks cling to their cartoon image of America.

I wasn't an enthusiastic Obama supporter until I saw the world reaction. My Republican spouse dismissed the world reaction as not representing any real improvement in our nation's situation. I disagree--but more importantly, the world's reaction is important for the world, regardless of whether it helps America directly.

People weren't standing in the streets of New Delhi with tears running down their cheeks because they like Obama's 12 point plan for something or other. It was because they knew there was a country on Earth that was willing to elect a member of a racial minority to their highest office because he seemed to be the best candidate. That gives hope to everyone everyone who wants better for THEIR country. That speaks to the essence of American leadership. I don't know of one other country that would do what we just did.

Whether Obama turns out to be a great president or just a decent one, this gift to the world will remain.

I hope my conservative friends will be able to grasp this point through their disappointment.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Some blacks need racism

Listening to Friday night's edition of News & Notes I was treated to the spectacle of one of your guests (Robert Jensen I believe) calmly insisting that Obama's election meant exactly nothing--that America was still a "white supremacist society."

For sheer mean-spiritedness this matches Rush Limbaugh's diatribes after Obama's election. And it demands that the host knock him up 'longside the head both for his sourness and for his ridiculousness. Instead Chideya pulled a Larry King and let him get away with such overheated hyperbole.

News flash! White supremacist societies don't elect Black presidents.


Sure there's plenty of racism to go around. But speaking as someone who's done a good deal of international travel, as far as I've seen across three continents, America is one of the least racist societies on Earth. In which other countries could a member of a racial minority be elected President? It's a really, really short list, isn't it?

Of course American Blacks have to deal with daily racism, large and small. But it's small potatoes compared to other countries. The Friday night guests sounded parochial--as if they had no international context for their remarks--as if they've obsessed about every real or imagined racial incident in their lives and organized their lives around these incidents.

Actually if sounded to me as if Jensen and his ilk NEED white racism; need it as much as some antebellum plantation owner needed it.

All in all this installment of News and Notes sounded sad, and dated, and small of heart. I received congratulations from friends in Indonesia, Scotland, Brazil, the Netherlands and elsewhere over this singular moment in America and how it had made us once more a shining beacon for the world--not because we say so, but because they do, with tears in their eyes.

Malcolm X warned Blacks about what he called the Slave Mentality. That included a blindly cynical 'tude. I suggest doing a program on this subject. Bring back Jensen along with someone who can take him on if Chideya isn't up to the task.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Message for Republicans

To all the Republicans who are blogging and commenting in various media upon the occasion of Obama winning the race definitively:

Did you hear John McCain's noble and intelligent concession speech?
Did you hear him say what conservatives must do now?

Take his advice if you really love America.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Leftist indoctrination on campus?

My conservative Republican spouse went back to school in the '80s to get her BA here in California. A number of Liberal Arts classes she took were radical Left indoctrinations with little or no relation to the course descriptions. Needless to say, my spouse did not become a leftist--these tenured radicals only hardened her conservative worldview.

The same thing happened to a young conservative friend a few years ago when she went to San Francisco State University to get her BA in Psychology. Many of her teachers were both leftists and militant feminists who taught that men are the enemy.

OTOH I've know younger people with vaguely liberal backgrounds who did become indoctrinated.

My guess is that there are indeed many leftist professors who don't just expose students to leftist/feminist ideas but do their best to indoctrinate students--that is, by brooking no dissent.

The danger is in giving students a narrative that's internally coherent (even though it doesn't map to reality). Humans find coherent narratives remarkably compelling, as every trial lawyer knows.

That said, I wholeheartedly agree with the authors. These false, internally consistent narratives would have a lot less effect if students all got a solid fundamental education instead of being allowed/forced to specialize right off the bat. These narratives have force because they have no competition.

Both right wing and left wing ideologue live within such narratives, and they fit everything they encounter into their narratives. Liberals are taught how to do this by their college professors. Conservatives get it from talk radio demagogues like Limbaugh and Savage, and from GOP--er, Fox--TV. Both are badly served.

America is centrifuging itself into politically homogeneous enclaves in which the other side's point of view is never entertained--only despised and ridiculed.

As a centrist I find both sides scary. And I would certainly love to see colleges become actual marketplaces of ideas instead of leftist madrassahs. Both sides devote their energy to silencing opposing voices instead of debating them. Even on TV most political debates have degenerated into shouting matching in which the most unscrupulous and aggressive participants "win."

At least we still have the Lehrer News Hour, which actually is fair and balanced.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Obama helps Republicans

If Obama wins this election, conservatives should breathe a sigh of relief—because then they’ll at least have a chance to reclaim their party.

Once the GOP represented prudent, responsible governance. Its big tent gladly included many moderates, including people like Chris Shays, Dick Lugar, Olympia Snow, and General Colin Powell (U.S. Army, Ret.)

Now it has become the party of corruption, incompetent governance, ideological rigidity, rash policies, and viciously underhanded politics. These are nonpartisan failings that have all been exhibited by the Democratic Party in other times. But now the Democrats are led by someone with a strong, even temperament, a solid command of the issues (as shown in the debates), and an exemplary personal life.

I wish I could say the same about the GOP ticket.

Obama’s campaign has indulged in a fair amount of lies and spin, but has not resorted to nonstop slander, demagoguery, and character assassination—the trademarks of Republican campaigns for decades, which, again, have nothing to do with conservatism, but everything to do with an institution whose founding ideals have been swamped by the goal of Winning At All Costs.

Republicans will be tempted to blame red herrings like campaign finance (ironically), media bias, and vote fraud for this debacle. Even more dangerously, the radical right will say the GOP lost because it wasn't radical enough.

But real conservatives will take their lumps, face facts, and start the extraordinarily difficult task of reforming their party. I hope they succeed.