Sunday, December 09, 2012
Forget the Demographics, We Need to Teach the Kids
After last month’s election, I had a series of conversations with friends and family regarding the results, and why they thought President Obama was re-elected despite the deplorable condition of the U.S. economy and his oft-stated positions opposed to any real reforms except for raising taxes – “Ask the rich to pay a little bit more.”
One liberal friend said the parties were basically tied on economics (because the subject is wonky and hard for the average guy to understand) but it was the GOP’s positions on social issues that brought Romney down, specifically abortion and “gay rights.” And similar to Mitt Romney’s post-election explanations, several conservatives blamed giveaways to Democrat constituencies as the cause of his defeat. Like Bill O’Reilly is fond of saying, people just want “stuff.”
While I may not agree with all the points made by the cross-sample, what was most astonishing were the answers given by the younger folks I talked with – and therein lies the problem for conservatives in turning our political fortunes around.
“Mitt Romney wants to take away women’s rights.”
“I think two people who are in love should be able to get married, and Republicans tell them they can’t.”
“Women should be able to terminate a pregnancy, and it’s nobody else’s business.”
“Obama is cool. Romney’s old.”
Not a single one of them mentioned the Constitution or the role of government. Most of these kids sounded like they’re shaping their political worldview based on what they read on Facebook and Twitter.
I know from observations that most of them know how to use the internet and phones to communicate in just about every way possible, but when asked about the size of the national debt, they don’t have a clue.
From what I can tell, the public education establishment doesn’t really address the issues, either. Kids certainly need the three R’s in order to develop a firm foundation for the future, but what’s getting lost is the ability to think and process the information they’re being given. There’s no requirement for students to challenge the positions of the political establishment – it seems like it’s just a regurgitation of facts and figures.
And to some degree, hero worship (not of the Founding Fathers).
These are not just political issues, these are cultural issues, and conservatives are on the losing end of this up-and-coming generation simply because our side of the story is not being listened to. Granted, there were a few kids in my informal survey who expressed conservative views, but the majority seems to hold the same beliefs as the young lady wearing the Obama sticker seated at a table next to us at a fast-food place on Election Day.
I was sorely tempted to ask her the reasons why she supports Obama, but I suspect I already knew.
Much has been written about the GOP’s demographic obstacles in the upcoming elections, but if the moldable minds of our youth cannot be shaped in a liberty-oriented direction, then it won’t matter much who we put forth as candidates.
I doubt this generation would have warmed to Ronald Reagan if he had been running against someone like Obama. They don’t want to hear about freedom, they want to be comforted with security and notions of “fairness” in social values.
They’re digging their own financial holes before they even get a job – and they don’t even realize it.
Education begins at home. We can’t rely on teachers to provide the ability to think and challenge the status quo. If conservatives are going to make headway in turning around the political arena, the cultural deficit must be filled first.
The Stone Truth: Left-Wingers Are Boring
When, at long last, will people understand that the left is boring?
The question came to mind as I was dipping in and out of Oliver Stone's miasmic 700-plus-page tome. I'll never read the whole thing, and not because it's a left-wing screed full of slimy distortions about the evils of the United States (though that doesn't help). It's that it's boring.
Stone and co-author Peter Kuznick call their book "The Untold History of the United States," except, again, it isn't. This story has been told countless times before. As the Daily Beast's Michael Moynihan notes in a devastating review, Stone and Kuznick offer no new research, and much of the old research they rely on has been rendered moot by more recent discoveries since the Berlin Wall came down.
Still, what vexes me about the book isn't really the substance. What bothers me is the manufactured rebelliousness, the kitschy nostalgic play-acting of the thing. The 66-year old Stone can be an original filmmaker, but he is a stale old Red when it comes to politics.
In a sense, that fine. We're all entitled to our opinions, even to commit them to paper in book form. But spare me the radical pose. Among the hilarious blurbs is this encomium from the octogenarian radical Daniel Ellsberg. "Howard [Zinn] would have loved this 'people's history' of the American Empire. It's compulsive reading: brilliant, a masterpiece!"
Ellsberg is right about one thing: The late Howard Zinn, a wildly left-wing historian, probably would have loved it -- in no small part because he wrote so much of it already in his decades-old and endlessly recycled "A People's History of the United States."
Zinn's work, along with Noam Chomsky's, Michael Moore's and, now, Stone's, is seen as boldly transgressive and subversive. Intellectually, there's some truth to that of course. If you're dedicated to subverting the free enterprise system and traditional patriotism, then you're a subversive.
I guess what bothers me is the whole pretense that these people are bravely speaking truth to power in some way. Zinn has been on college syllabi for decades. Moore wins Academy Awards and is treated like royalty by the Democratic Party (he sat in Jimmy Carter's suite at the 2004 Democratic Convention). Chomsky has been a fixture on the campus paid-lecture circuit since before I was born.
According to investigative reporter Peter Schweizer, Chomsky, the avowed hater of capitalism, set up a special trust to hide his millions in personal wealth from the taxman. This from the guy who inveighs against a tax code full of "complicated devices for ensuring that the poor -- like 80 percent of the population -- pay off the rich."
Stone, a notorious booster of Cuban socialism, owns numerous properties around the world. During an interview at his Santa Barbara, Calif., Spanish colonial villa, Architectural Digest asked about the contradiction between his anti-capitalist schtick and his lifestyle, he replied that he wouldn't fall for the guilt trip. "That's a Western Christian trip."
The bowel-stewing hypocrisy notwithstanding, what's amazing is how the same dreck is recycled as new, fresh and courageous. Charles Beard's "An Economic Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution" will be 100 years old next year. Its attack on the founders as greedy white men was wrong then, but at least it was relatively original. Today, college kids regurgitate the same nonsense -- and professors applaud their rebelliousness. Except what or whom are they rebelling against? Not the faculty or the administration.
Hackneyed left-wingery is not only treated with respect on campuses (though most mainstream academics aren't as left-wing as Zinn or Stone), it is repackaged daily by Hollywood and celebrated by the mainstream media.
The self-styled rebels of Occupy Wall Street received overwhelmingly positive coverage in the mainstream media in no small part because the liberal press thinks authentic political expression for young people must be left-wing. The regurgitation of hackneyed '60s slogans pleasing to the ears of aging, nostalgia-besotted baby boomers elicits squeals of delight. Meanwhile, Tea Party protests were greeted as dangerous, odd and deserving of hostile journalistic scrutiny.
And yet the kitsch of leftism still works its magic. In huge numbers, young people think they're rebelling when all they're doing is playing their assigned part and lending energy and, often, votes to a stale, regimented form of statist liberalism that often disappoints and never satisfies.
I don't expect young people to become conservatives, though if you want to see a true rebel on campus, seek out the pro-life Christians. But is libertarianism really too much to ask? Championing economic liberty will tick off your professors, and you can still be a libertine on weekends. And if you get rich, you won't be a hypocrite for defending your villa.
Hey, Fat Cat Unions: Pay Your "Fair Share"
Message for wealth-bashing millionaire actor Ed Asner: Man up and take responsibility for lying to America's schoolchildren.
Confronted by a producer for Fox News Channel's "The Sean Hannity Show" this week, the left-wing celebrity claimed he couldn't remember "a thing (he) said" on a vile propaganda video produced and published by the California Federation of Teachers. Asner narrated the unforgettable eight-minute anti-capitalist screed geared toward children.
Think Occupy Wall Street meets Sesame Street. "Things go downhill in a happy and prosperous land after the rich decide they don't want to pay taxes anymore," Asner warbles in a folksy grandpa voice. After education reform journalist Kyle Olson of EAGNews.org blew the whistle on the film's vulgar cartoon depiction of a "rich" man urinating on the "poor," the teachers union whitewashed the animated images from the video.
While the Occupy-cheerleading teachers have to concoct such fantasy scenes, informed Americans remember that it was the Occupiers themselves who openly defecated in the streets. What's even more grossly comical is the sight of pampered Asner shilling for the "progressive" war on prosperity while ignoring Big Labor's own self-serving evasion of their "fair share" in taxes.
The California Federation of Teachers, an AFL-CIO affiliate that rakes in an estimated $22 million in coerced dues, enjoys nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(5) status. So does CFT's larger counterpart, the California Teachers Association, which collects a whopping $300 million in annual dues. While they burn through mountains of dues lobbying for everyone else to pay higher taxes, these Democratic partisan heavies pay nothing in either federal or state income taxes. Zero, zip, nada. In theory, the unions are entitled to this special status because their "primary" purpose is to "secure better working conditions, wages and similar benefits" for their members.
In practice, of course, the unions are Democratic Party front groups that shovel hundreds of millions of dollars to liberal causes and candidates -- against the will of their rank-and-file members and often without their knowledge.
Mark Levin's ever-vigilant Landmark Legal Foundation has pressured the Internal Revenue Service for more than a decade to force national teachers unions to file proper federal reporting and IRS statements regarding their hidden political expenditures. (The overwhelmingly Democratic donations are not tax-exempt.) As a result of Landmark's investigative work, the Wisconsin Education Association admitted in 2006 that it had failed to pay more than $171,000 in federal taxes on Democratic political expenditures.
Given the immense difficulty that dissenting teachers across the country have had in challenging the abuse of their dues for political purposes, it's clear this is the tip of Big Labor's tax-evasion iceberg.
In addition, the national parent organizations of the CFT and CTA also benefit from widespread property tax exemptions on their ownership of lavish real estate used for union brass vacations and retreats. Fox Business Network reporter Elizabeth MacDonald's investigation of IRS records earlier this year shed light on several tax-sheltered, union-owned luxury hotels, golf courses and country clubs -- including the "swanky" AFL-CIO-owned Westin Diplomat resort in Florida and the UAW's $33 million lakeside resort and golf club in Onaway, Mich.
"What the documents don't show," FBN noted, "is whether union members like teachers, firemen and cops get invited to these junkets -- or even approve of or know about the use of their dues to outright buy and run resorts, or spend on junkets, among other things."
Then there's the Obamacare Cadillac tax exemption for unions. Delivered behind closed doors and out of sight of C-SPAN cameras, the Obama White House cut a lucrative sweetheart deal with AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union and other labor groups to shield them from the federal health care mandate's steep 40 percent excise tax on high-cost health care plans. The 90 percent of Americans who don't belong to unions and participate in these plans must pay their "fair share" beginning in 2013.
But Big Labor's cozy Cadillac tax escape clause is effective until 2018. Even after that deadline, union dental and vision plans will remain exempt. The cost? $60 billion in foregone tax revenue.
Who are the greedy, selfish, filthy-rich tax evaders pissing on the poor and politically unconnected now?
Marines admitting mistreatment of Manning: "An Army private charged with sending reams of classified documents to the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks was wrongly kept on suicide watch for at least seven days of his nine months' confinement at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., the Marines' chief of corrections testified Wednesday. Chief Warrant Officer 5 Abel Galaviz also said Pfc. Bradley Manning shouldn't have been stripped of all clothing during a period when he wasn't on suicide watch. And he said a board that made confinement recommendations to the brig commander used improper procedures that called into question the panel's objectivity." [This is a disgrace to the Marines. They have hurt themselves more than Manning did]
Atheist West Point cadet quits -- angrily: "Blake Page, a senior at West Point, has announced he will leave the military academy to protest what he says is unconstitutional proselytizing by officers and discrimination against non-religious cadets. To call attention to his move, senior Blake Page wrote a scathing commentary on West Point, published Monday in the Huffington Post. "Countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution," wrote Page, who was slated to graduate in May. "These men and women are criminals, complicit in light of day defiance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice through unconstitutional proselytism, discrimination against the non-religious and establishing formal policies to reward, encourage and even at times require sectarian religious participation." [This kid must have other issues. What is wrong or difficult about bowing your head in respect while others pray? I have often done so although I too am an atheist. If that's the hardest thing for you to do, you shouldn't be in the army]
Does the state have “rights” to protect?: "The doctrine of 'compelling state interest' has an evil origin. The Supreme Court created this so-called 'balancing test' in 1944 to justify the criminal arrest and imprisonment of thousands of innocent Japanese-Americans. Everyone agrees that this was a dark stain on American history. Reparations were eventually paid to the Japanese-Americans who were interned or to their heirs. But the original sin that enabled this heinous act spread to nearly every part of the U.S. Constitution. The 1944 Court dared to assert that it could balance the 'interests' of The State against the rights of individuals."
Security obsession drives 100 scientists from NASA: "Everyone who wanted to continue doing space science at JPL was told they had to submit to a security investigation. The cost of this idiocy, which was aggressively pursued to a final Pyrrhic victory in the High Court by the Obama Department of Justice, has been grievous, as some 100 veteran scientists at JPL have quit or taken early retirement, rather than open their lives to the FBI."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 1:34 AM