Category Archives: U.S. Politics

On A Roll: Zionist Conspiracy Forces Charles Freeman Out

Standard

The International Zionist Conspiracy is on a roll. Charles Freeman will not chair the US National Intelligence Council. The Jerusalem Post reports:

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair accepted Freeman’s decision “with regret,” according to a terse statement put out by his office.

Freeman has become the subject of a investigation by the DNI inspector-general.

Freeman, a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, had come under fire from several members of Congress for statements criticizing Israel and appearing to side with China against democracy advocates. The legislators, who included members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, also questioned his business associations with the Chinese government and a think tank, the Middle East Policy Council, funded in part by Saudi money.

Freeman released a statement that included this gem:

I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country.

Of course he is referring to “neocons,” “Likudniks,” “Zionists” or some combination thereof. It seems like the three terms are synonymous these days, especially in some circles.

The usual anti-Zionist suspects have leaped into action in defense of Freeman, proudly expressing their opposition to the power and influence of the evil lobby. This is from a post at Muzzlewatch:

In the immediate aftermath of Chas Freeman’s decision to step down from consideration as top intelligence analyst, there is a lot of finger-pointing about who is to blame.

There is no doubt that there was a campaign led by former AIPAC operative Steve Rosen to discredit Freeman because of reasonable statements he has made about Israel and US foreign policy.

Read More:

Contentions: J Street Defends Chas Freeman. Pope Still Catholic.

Contentious Centrist: Chas Freeman Affair and more here.

Loads of posts at TNR’s The Spine

The Weekly Standard: Freeman’s Analytical Incompetence

ZioNation: Freeman versus “hardline” Jews

Thanking Attorney General Eric Holder

Standard

eric-holder

It’s been a rough month for President Obama. He’s found it increasingly difficult to find qualified candidates to fill his cabinet who pay their taxes. His Stimulus Program passed and the stock market responded with a precipitous decline. But the hardest blow to the veneer of our 30-day old “post-racial” presidency was Attorney General Eric Holder claiming America was a “nation of cowards” when it came to discussions of race.

Holder’s general point is Americans of all colors, ethnicities, and creeds should be more free and open in their discussions of race. Most Americans would agree with that statement. But I think Holder is implying something more specific. There are two interrelated claims at the core of Holder’s argument. First, most Americans have been unwilling to address the history of racial discrimination in the United States. Second, most white Americans are unwilling (or unable) to address their bias against non-whites.

As to the first claim–Americans are not addressing the history and legacy of slavery and racial discrimination–I suggest Mr. Holder step into a high school or college history class. I receive a virtually limitless stream of textbook catalogs and I have yet to come across a survey of American history that does not address slavery. Most surveys of twentieth century American history mention the civil rights movement. Times have changed from when history classes focused exclusively on “dead white males.”

Heather McDonald (City Journal) adds:

Leave aside for a moment Holder’s purely decorative call for a “frank” conversation about race. The Clinton-era Conversation also purported to be frank, and we know what that meant: a one-sided litany of white injustices. Please raise your hand if you haven’t heard the following bromides about “the racial matters that continue to divide us” more times than you can count: Police stop and arrest blacks at disproportionate rates because of racism; blacks are disproportionately in prison because of racism; blacks are failing in school because of racist inequities in school funding; the black poverty rate is the highest in the country because of racism; blacks were given mortgages that they couldn’t afford because of racism. I will stop there.

Not only do colleges, law schools, almost all of the nation’s elite public and private high schools, and the mainstream media, among others, have “conversations about . . . racial matters”; they never stop talking about them. Any student who graduates from a moderately selective college without hearing that its black students are victims of institutional racism—notwithstanding the fact that the vast majority of black students there will have been deliberately admitted with radically lower SAT scores than their white and Asian comrades—has been in a coma throughout his time there.

Charles Blow articulates the second claim–whitey is racist–in a recent NYT op-ed:

[M]ost whites harbor a hidden racial bias that many are unaware of and don’t consciously agree with…In tests taken from 2000 to 2006…three-quarters of whites have an implicit pro-white/anti-black bias. (Blacks showed racial biases, too, but unlike whites, they split about evenly between pro-black and pro-white. And, Blacks were the most likely of all races to exhibit no bias at all.)

I’m not sure how wide or deep Mr. Blow has researched these issues but the 2007 Pew Research Center polls paint a much different picture. Pew found African-Americans to be the most prejudiced racial group in the United States, exhibiting higher rates of negative opinions towards fellow African-Americans than whites. Pew found the percentage of white Americans who hold negative views of African-Americans is about eight percent.

Linda Chavez summarized the findings of the Pew studies last year in her presciently titled article, “Let Us by All Means Have an Honest Conversation about Race” (Commentary, June, 2008). Of course Ms. Chavez was condemned as a racist for writing:

[T]he New York Times notwithstanding, the black-white racial divide is no longer the great fault line in American politics. To the contrary, the virtual disappearance of white racial hostility in America is the salient background reality that, skills and talent aside, explains the extraordinary success of Barack Obama’s own candidacy for the highest office in the land…

A single statistic tells the tale. As against the 10 percent or fewer of American whites who hold negative views of blacks, the same mid-1990’s survey of intergroup attitudes cited above registered over three-quarters of blacks holding negative views of whites. To be sure, not all studies report such negative findings; nor do pollsters try, at least directly, to measure black attitudes toward whites as frequently as they do the reverse. But the handful of surveys that have indirectly probed black attitudes reveals a depressing and, as we shall see, indicative pattern.

At approximately the same time last year, Charles Johnson (The American Scholar, Summer 2008): The End of the Black American Narrative noted:

[D]espite being an antique, the old black American narrative of pervasive victimization persists, denying the overwhelming evidence of change since the time of my parents and grandparents, refusing to die as doggedly as the Ptolemaic vision before Copernicus or the notion of phlogiston in the 19th century, or the deductive reasoning of the medieval schoolmen. It has become ahistorical. For a time it served us well and powerfully, yes, reminding each generation of black Americans of the historic obligations and duties and dangers they inherited and faced, but the problem with any story or idea or interpretation is that it can soon fail to fit the facts and becomes an ideology, even kitsch.

This point is expressed eloquently by Susan Griffin in her 1982 essay “The Way of all Ideology,” where she says, “When a theory is transformed into an ideology, it begins to destroy the self and self-knowledge….No one can tell it anything new. It is annoyed by any detail which does not fit its worldview….Begun as a way to restore one’s sense of reality, now it attempts to discipline real people, to remake natural beings after its own image.”

I think AG Holder’s use of language was inflammatory and inaccurate. If there is any cowardice taking place, it is due in large measure to the pressures of living in a politically correct era where heated discussions of race can result in dismissal from work, suspension from school, and, at the extreme, prosecution for committing “hate crimes” in court. At the same time I want to thank Holder for opening the door to a frank and public discussion of race in the United States. For liberals that means no more political correctness, no more hypocrisy, and no more resorting to general accusations of rampant white racism. For conservatives that means recognizing the structural inequalities in education, health care, housing and legal representation that continue to exist in America.

The always eloquent John McWhorter states things much more lucidly than me in his recent post, “Defining ‘Nation of Cowards’ Down“:

[I]f Holder were really interested in a “conversation” on race, he would understand that America is engaged in one year-round. The claim that America “doesn’t want to talk about race” is hardly uncommon, and has a dramatic tang. However, take the past few years: Don Imus, Michael Richards, Jena, and of course, the coverage of Barack Obama’s campaign, which included white reporters diligently smoking out whites who insisted they wouldn’t vote for a black President.

A Martian observer–or a modern Tocqueville–would readily see that America was rather obsessed with race. Certainly we are an America ardently “conversing” about it year-round. What Holder wants is not a conversation but a conversion.

This idea of a “conversation” (conversion) on race forever just out of reach is interesting in an intellectual sense. However, all evidence is that the only conversation that’s going to happen already is. It is a sometimes messy exchange, conservative and liberal going head-to-head, gradually settling on a centrist position.

Read More:

Transcript of AG Holder’s remarks here.

Linda Chavez responds to Holder.

Ta-Nehesi Coates (The Atlantic): Eric Holder’s Boring-Ass Speech on Race

Peter Wehner (Contentions): Holder’s shame

C-SPAN Presidential Survey

Standard

C-SPAN has released the results of their Second Survey of Presidential Leadership. From the Survey website:

Fifty-eight historians from across the political spectrum who contributed to C-SPAN’s year long series, American Presidents: Life Portraits participated in C-SPAN’s survey. They rated the 41 men who have served in the White House on ten different qualities of presidential leadership. Results of this survey, overall rankings and each president’s scores in individual categories, are being released by C-SPAN to coincide with the February 21 observance of President’s Day…

The cable public affairs network was guided in the survey effort by a team of four historians and academics: Dr. Douglas Brinkley, Director of the Eisenhower Center at the University of New Orleans; Dr. Edna Greene Medford, Associate Professor of History, Howard University; Richard Norton Smith, Director of the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Library; and Dr. John Splaine, Education professor, University of Maryland.

The four survey advisors devised a survey which asked participants to use a one (“not effective”) to ten (“very effective”) scale to rate each president on ten qualities of presidential leadership: “Public Persuasion,” “Crisis Leadership,” “Economic Management,” “Moral Authority,” “International Relations,” “Administrative Skills,” “Relations with Congress,” “Vision/Agenda Setting,” and “Pursuit of Equal Justice for All”. And, to reflect the changing role of the presidency over the course of US history, the advisory team chose as the tenth category, “Performance Within the Context of His Times.”

The survey was sent by mail in December to 87 historians and other professional observers of the presidency whose work contributed to C-SPAN’s 41 week biography series, American Presidents. Fifty-eight agreed to participate. Survey responses were tabulated by averaging all the responses in any given category for each president. Each of the ten categories were given equal weighting in the total scores. Overseeing the tabulation were Robert Kennedy, C-SPAN CFO and Dr. Robert Browning, a political scientist who serves as director of the C-SPAN archives.

The surveys provide an interesting snapshot of how a particular president is viewed at a particular time. For example, President George W. Bush is number 36 on the list. Will his position rise over time or decline? Back when the first poll was taken in 2000, President Clinton was ranked 21st. Today he has risen to 15th, placing him ahead of John Adams, James Madison, and John Quincy Adams. Time will tell with Bush as well.

Survey results here. Comparison between 2000 and 2009 is here. A list of historians who participated in the survey is here.

Lincoln and Darwin: Happy 200th!

Standard

lincoln-darwin

[Image swiped from Clashing Culture]

Malcolm Jones (Newsweek):

How’s this for a coincidence? Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born in the same year, on the same day: Feb. 12, 1809. As historical facts go, it amounts to little more than a footnote. Still, while it’s just a coincidence, it’s a coincidence that’s guaranteed to make you do a double take the first time you run across it. Everybody knows Darwin and Lincoln were near-mythic figures in the 19th century. But who ever thinks of them in tandem? Who puts the theory of evolution and the Civil War in the same sentence? Why would you, unless you’re writing your dissertation on epochal events in the 19th century? But instinctively, we want to say that they belong together. It’s not just because they were both great men, and not because they happen to be exact coevals. Rather, it’s because the scientist and the politician each touched off a revolution that changed the world.

Simon Jenkins (The Age):

CHARLES Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born on the same day two centuries ago, thanks be to the false god of coincidence. But which, you cry, was the greater? Was it the man who transformed our understanding of the human race, or the man who made the mightiest nation on earth also the custodian of liberty and democracy? Was it the scientist or the statesman?

Darwin claims the crown for the scale of his intellectual revolution, but was he no more than an observer, a describer, a cataloguer? Did he not fail Marx’s test, that any philosopher can interpret the world while “the point is to change it”? Lincoln may have ensured that America became a force for world freedom, but was he not just a lucky war leader, and of a cause whose time had anyway come?

The comparison is silly, but not the question. We can leave the two men as giants but we can set the pursuit of science against politics and ask which deserves the greater respect.

Robert Reich on Infrastructure Jobs: Skilled Workers and White Males Need Not Apply

Standard

[I know this post is a bit dated. It has been hiding in my “drafts” folder for close to a month.]

Robert Reich is a very intelligent man. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration and is a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Discussing President Obama’s Stimulus Plan, Reich notes it will repair and upgrade “the nation’s roads, bridges, ports, levees, water and sewage system, public-transit systems, electricity grid, and schools.” OK. Sounds good.

However, given the present labor market:

[T]he stimulus will just increase the wages of the professionals who already have the right skills rather than generate many new jobs in these fields. And if construction jobs go mainly to white males who already dominate the construction trades, many people who need jobs the most — women, minorities, and the poor and long-term unemployed — will be shut out.

His Solutions?

Many low-income and low-skilled workers — women as well as men — could be put directly to work providing homes and businesses with more efficient and renewable heating, lighting, cooling, and refrigeration systems; installing solar panels and efficient photovoltaic systems; rehabilitating and renovating old properties, and improving recycling systems.

and

I’d suggest that all contracts entered into with stimulus funds require contractors to provide at least 20 percent of jobs to the long-term unemployed and to people with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

The first would be a boondoggle and the second suggestion is unworkable.

I can visualize unskilled workers doing some of the labor for these projects but how can Reich expect to exclude the skilled from more complicated tasks? Honestly, I have no idea of what the man was thinking. Infrastructure is not simply filling in potholes, it is building dams and bridges, projects that require a great deal of expertise and skill. Also notice that Reich does not say a certain percentage of federal money should go to independent contractors and other small businesses, he mandates that twenty percent of the workers must be of a specific demographic.

Many cities and states have programs that assist women and minorities in starting their own companies. These programs deserve to be supported and expanded. However, the federal government should not mandate the race and ethnicity of employees, whether in the private or public sector.

I used to find conservatives bawling about “left-wing social engineering” to be such a joke. But when liberals like Reich promote these sorts of policies, the conservatives may be on to something. Read all of Reich’s suggestions here.

nycempirestate

[Construction workers, Empire State Building, NYC. Photo by Lewis W. Hine. CORRECTION: as a reader “Ryan” informs me in the comments below, the proper attribution is Charles C. Ebbets.]

Immigrants and Immigration Policy, Part I

Standard

[H/t to D.K. aka The Kvetcher]

The Kvetcher has been exploring some interesting and controversial territory regarding immigration. Reading his discussions with the people at the Nativist, paleocon VDARE website is like stepping into some strange yet familiar nexus where the tropes of radical left and extreme right meet.

Here is DK’s original post (Jewish Unease Towards Mass Immigration from Islamic Countries Spreads Left):

For a long-time in the mainstream Jewish community, it seemed only Stephen Steinlight was brave enough to publicly declare it wasn’t in the Jewish community’s interest to support mass immigration from Islamic countries. (In fact, Steinlight went further, questioning the wisdom of accepting mass immigration from Mexico, because he is a fearless and principled man, who treasures his country and his community more than being popular).

Well…it’s over seven years later, and finally the hawkish Left is coming round.

Marty Peretz writes on TNR,

As it happens, jihadism has less deadly manifestations than murder. As the Ku Klux Klan had less deadly manifestations than lynching. This morning I watched a frightening episode in the public life of America. It was a demonstration by, say, 200 Muslim immigrants in Fort Lauderdale against the Israeli air strikes over Gaza. Now, the first amendment protects such demos, and I would not for a moment want to curb them. But I ask each of you to pay attention to the details of what was being shouted. Especially by the young women screaming, “Jews to the ovens.” No jihad in America, huh? Do we want such immigrants in our country? Well, John, do we?

Most Jews on the social Left will continue to denounce our concerns as “fascist” and “racist” and will continue to give space-cadet reasons why we shouldn’t be concerned AT ALL about little inconveniences like terrorism, harassment, and a loss of power from say, an additional ten million religious Muslims immigrating to the U.S.

D.K. posted a follow-up titled “Jews and the Larger Mass Immigration Issues” where he notes:

I would ask the question like this: Is this a good time for mass immigration?

The answer is an unequivocal “no.” We are in a period of massive unemployment. Seeking a greater labor supply at this time is absolutely absurd, and cruel to our working-class countrymen. We already suffer from an acute and increasing labor surplus. And it is probably only going to get worse, perhaps much worse.

There are plenty of other reasons to object to mass immigration. The list is so long…but employment issues alone in today’s devolving economy suffice to warrant something approaching a moratorium on mass immigration, or at least, it presents an opportune time for reevaluation of current policies.

And that is legal immigration. That defense offered for amnesty or amnesty-like policies for illegal immigrants is a mind-blowing chutzpah. Maddeningly, there are Jews and Jewish groups who actually claim on our communal behalf that illegal immigration somehow parallels are own legal immigrant past.

So I posted some comments and questions at The Kvetcher, and, lo and behold, DK devoted a blog post to me. Here are my comments, condensed in some places and somewhat elaborated in others:

The labor economist Isaac Hourwich (Immigration and Labor, 1912) argued close to a century ago that American assumptions regarding immigration and the labor market are not correct i.e. that too many people were chasing too few jobs and this was driving wages down. The solution for critics of immigration was to limit or ban it altogether. However, rather than overcrowding the labor market and driving down wages, Hourwich contends the expansion of the economy far outpaced the pace of immigration. He supports his claims with economic data complied by the federal and various state governments.

The bottom line is immigration flows in open, free, capitalist economies respond to labor demand. As labor demand increases, immigration will increase. As labor demand decreases, immigration will decrease. Increases and decreases in labor demand result from the boom/bust cycles of the broader economy. Stated very simply:

Economy Labor Demand Immigration

Or, as as Hourwich notes:

The supply of immigrant labor is determined by free competition, like any other commodity. It may sometimes exceed the demand and at other times fall short if it; in the long run, however, supply adjusts itself to demand.

Regarding “own legal immigrant past,” the notion of “legal” and “illegal” immigrant is a fairly recent invention and our borders were much more porous in the past than they are today. It was actually much easier (politically and economically) to immigrate to the U.S. in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries than the twenty-first. Travel by steamship back then was more dangerous than airplane today, but it was much less expensive.

Another critique is the language used by contemporary Nativist outfits like VDARE is almost identical to that used by Nativists in the eighteenth century, nineteenth century and twentieth century. The claims made back then were as false (Russians, Italians, Poles, etc. do not want to learn English, they are clannish and stick to their “own kind,” they do not want to assimilate, etc.) as they are today.

Given my familiarity with the radical (baroque, faux, rococco, leftover) left, I was also puzzled by one poster (“Jenny”) who claimed:

[T]here has been an alliance formed between the corporate elites and the far left.

I suspect Jenny has not been to any demonstrations over the past say, fifteen or twenty years or read much, if any, far left literature. The far left–anarchists, communists, etc.–are definitely not in alliance with corporate elites. They are against NAFTA just like the paleocons at VDARE. They even use similar (anti-capitalist) rhetoric. Extremists on the left and right both rail against what they call globalism (hard right) or globalization (hard left).

Jenny adds:

I read an article today that stated that even among Mexicans, three out of five aren’t religious any longer. There is a strong movement of radical Marxists in the pro-illegal alien community, and they are indoctrinating them. That’s the reason why there is such a huge antisemitic tendency in the illegal alien community, and no amount of ADL huckstering on their behalf is going to change that.

If you follow the link above Jenny’s arguments and the rhetoric she uses are almost identical to those used against Jews, Italians, Catholics, Russians and others who were part of “new immigration” wave in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These arguments were rehashed from the critiques made of those who arrived as part of the “old immigrantation” wave (Dutch, Germans and Irish) in the eighteenth century.

I recommended DK and Jenny (and readers, if interested) have a read of Isaac Hourwich’s “Immigration and Labor” (link below). It is eye-opening, if depressing, to see how little the arguments have changed.

The idea that immigrants of the past did not flock to communities dominated by their countrymen and countrywomen, that they did not create media in their own languages (newspapers, books, etc.), is simply not supported by the evidence. Take a look at the images of early American cities with storefront signs in Yiddish, Polish, Italian, Russian, etc. (not English) take a look at the names of the newspapers that were popular in immigrant communities, take a look at the languages they were published in.

This process of assimilation has been going on for a long, long, time. Critics of immigration said Jews would not assimilate. They said we were not interested in becoming American, we were only interested in making a “quick profit” and that increasing numbers of us were not even religious, instead informed and guided by foreign ideologies like Marxism, anarchism and communism. Sound familiar?

While not in favor of open borders, I am generally in the pro-immigration camp. I am also in favor of free trade as opposed to protectionism. Nevertheless, D.K.’s overarching concern with radicalism is something that concerns me as well. While worries of Europe turning into Eurabia are often overstated, there has been an alarming increase in political violence and anti-Semitism on the continent.

On a more subjective note, I have long felt that Jews, as the people who coined the term Diaspora and spent so much of our collective existence as outsiders in others’ lands, should be sensitive about the situation of immigrants. Remember, we were strangers in the land of Egypt (Leviticus 19:34):

The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

One last thing, I know they would probably prefer not to know, but DK’s positions are not very far from Sultan Knish’s

More Info:

AFL-CIO page on Immigrant Workers

Center for Migration Studies NY

Change to Win Coalition on Immigrant Workers’ Rights

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)

Immigration and Labor by Isaac Hourwich (1912) via Google Books.

Jewish Labor Committee

New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE)

New York, Nepotism, and Caroline Kennedy

Standard

obama_kennedy

I am frankly nauseated that Caroline Kennedy may be our (New York’s) next senator. Maybe I should not be so upset. After all, if Democrats can elect a president with no executive experience, why not appoint a senator who lacks legislative experience?

Roland Dodds (But I am a Liberal!) expresses opinions quite close to my own:

There are few things that disgust me like the reverence many Americans hold for the Kennedy household. I see nothing inherently wrong with claiming JFK was a good President (an average President in my assessment), or that liberals may feel Bobby Kennedy would have been an excellent president if he were not assassinated (an unscientific conjecture, but I am willing to let it slide), but to extend this benevolence to anyone associated with the family’s lineage is the most appalling form of nepotism Democrats readily participate in.

We have yet another Kennedy (this time it’s Caroline) looking to capitalize on her namesake, and she looks posed to take Clinton’s senate seat when she departs to be Obama’s Secretary of State.

The fact that she is even being considered for the position over qualified civil servants should disgust any American, but that doesn’t begin to repulse me. Forget that she has little experience doing anything of significance (let alone legislative experience), and that she has only been heavily involved in a number of duties that revolve around glorifying the family’s name (like standing as President of the JFK library). I can also excuse the reason she was brought into the political center stage: the Obama campaign wanted to incorporate the populace’s romanticism of America’s Camelot into electoral victory for their candidate. A shrewd but wretched political move, but so goes an American election.

Ross Douhat (The Atlantic) notes:

Caroline Kennedy is no doubt more prepared – in terms of her base of knowledge about national politics, her comfort with the ways of Washington, etc. – to be a United States Senator than Sarah Palin was to be Vice President. But if you consider where the two women started and stack their subsequent accomplishments against one another, Palin’s Alaskan career is roughly six times more impressive than Kennedy’s years as a high-minded Manhattan socialite and custodian of her family’s good name. That doesn’t mean that McCain was wise to pick Palin as his running mate. But if you think he wasn’t, then you should definitely hope that the Democratic Party of New York hunts a little longer through its ranks before handing a Senate seat to the editor of The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Eric Trager (Contentions) suggests city councilman John Liu is a better pick for the position:

Having represented parts of northeast Queens since 2002, Liu would be an intriguing choice for a number of reasons. First, as chair of the City Council’s Committee on Transportation, Liu would bring appropriate experience for working with the incoming Obama administration on improving domestic infrastructure. Second, Liu has demonstrated laudable political independence. In October, he was among the minority of councilmen who voted against extending term limits for city offices, including his own. Finally, having emigrated from Taiwan when he was five years old, Liu would be the first Asian-American to serve in a statewide office. His appointment would therefore widen political opportunities for one of New York’s largest – and often overlooked – minority groups.

Most importantly, putting Liu on the “short list” of possible Senate replacements would delay plans for the next Kennedy coronation. It would force Governor Paterson to choose between a respected councilman who has been hard at work serving his constituents for the past six years, and a presidential daughter who has conspicuously dropped “Schlossberg” from her last name.

Councilman Liu is an excellent choice. He had my respect when I was living in Queens and it has only increased over time. I really appreciated the way he stood up to Mayor Bloomberg and many of his fellow council members regarding term limits.

If you happen to live in New York (even if you don’t) and would like to express your opinion contact Governor Patterson:

Phone (518) 474-8390

To email the governor click here.

Civic Literacy in the USA

Standard

The Intercollegiate Studies Association (ISI), a conservative organization, has released the findings of their annual survey on civic literacy in the United States and the results are not encouraging. Here are some of the major findings:

If there is any presidential speech that has captured a place in popular culture, it is the Gettysburg Address, seemingly recited by school children for decades. The truth is, however, Lincoln’s most memorable words are now remembered by very few.

Of the 2,508 Americans taking ISI’s civic literacy test, 71% fail. Nationwide, the average score on the test is only 49%. The vast majority cannot recognize the language of Lincoln’s famous speech.

The test contains 33 questions designed to measure knowledge of America’s founding principles, political history, international relations, and market economy.

While the questions vary in difficulty, most test basic knowledge. Six are borrowed from U.S. government naturalization exams that test knowledge expected of all new American citizens. Nine are taken from the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests that the U.S. Department of Education uses to assess high school seniors. Three are drawn from an “American History 101” exam posted online by http://www.InfoPlease.com. Two were developed especially for this survey and the rest were drawn from ISI’s previous civic literacy tests.

The results reveal that Americans are alarmingly uninformed about our Constitution, the basic functions of our government, the key texts of our national history, and economic principles.

  • Less than half can name all three branches of the government.
  • Only 21% know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
  • Although Congress has voted twice in the last eight years to approve foreign wars, only 53% know that the power to declare war belongs to Congress. Almost 40% incorrectly believe it belongs to the president.
  • Only 55% know that Congress shares authority over U.S. foreign policy with the president. Almost a quarter incorrectly believe Congress shares this power with the United Nations.
  • Only 27% know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.
  • Less than one in five know that the phrase “a wall of separation” between church and state comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson. Almost half incorrectly believe it can be found in the Constitution.

Take the test here.

90 Years After Armistice, Remember Our Vets

Standard

Today is Veterans Day in the U.S. The holiday was established to recognize the end of World War One (Armistice Day) as well as honoring the service of our armed forces in all conflicts. When I was a child the holiday was widely honored with parades, speeches and school closings. Today, Veterans Day is increasingly forgotten by many Americans. Remember, support our troops in the field and when they come home.

The following excerpt is from the Veterans of Foreign Wars website:

Remembering gives true meaning to sacrifice and service. Millions of Americans’ lives were forever altered because they donned a uniform to protect the freedoms and rights we take for granted. We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to them. And acknowledging Veterans Day is the time that debt comes due. It’s our way of keeping faith.

All of this is particularly relevant now, with the nation at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly 4,800 Americans have been killed in the two war zones to date. Approximately 1.7 million tours have been logged so far with 600,000 individuals having served there. About 325,000 of them have used VA benefits and services. Many, present as well as past, have displayed exceptional courage on the battlefield, as this month’s issue clearly illustrates.

The 23.8 million veterans living in America deserve the recognition. It is often forgotten that legislative battles were waged over this day and its earlier version called Armistice Day in 1926, 1938, 1954 and throughout the 1970s. Let’s not take its value for granted.

AMVETS

Foundation for American Veterans

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Operation Gratitude

Veterans of Foreign Wars

Wounded Warrior Project

wwp_logo_white

The Change America Was Looking For…Ayers for Secretary of Education?

Standard

The voters have voted and Barack Obama is president elect. I hope all my readers who voted for change get the sort of change you were looking for, but don’t count on it. Obama is all things to all voters, he is a mirror reflecting peoples aspirations and fears rather than actually standing for anything concrete. That is, anything besides raising your taxes and decreasing America’s military might. You think America’s position in the world will improve? I say get prepared for Carter Part II.

All I can tell you at this point is don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for him. I’ll tell you the same thing next year when you see your pay stubs and complain to me about it. I’ll tell the same thing when you look at your property taxes shoot through the roof. Don’t blame me, blame yourself. This is the change you were looking for, America. Now deal with it.

Sultan Knish looks at things a bit more philosophically and has this to say:

Today I unpacked my winter clothes in preparation for a long winter, and a long winter is coming if not of the thermometer, then of the soul. A man that represents not simply an opposing view but the view of those who oppose America and all it stands for, will sit in the Oval Office. Worse still he did not get there through a democratic election but through fraud, voter intimidation and every dirty trick culminating in a campaign that had little in common with conventional American politics and a great deal in common with the cults of personality cultivated by totalitarian dictators.

Our disappointment has come tonight. The disappointment of those Democratic party voters who are still of the party of Jefferson rather than the party of Ayers will come later and it will be far darker because we were innocent of it, while they will be complicit in all that he does. But we are not simply “Don’t Blame Me” voters. We did our best to fight against this and while that may be small comfort against what comes, it is important to remember that, just as it is remembered in every age the people who stood against the rise of evil and took no part in the mass madness that brings tyrants to power and overturns nations.

In a related issue, talk about opportune timing, William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn are set to publish a book exposing the ills of white supremacy. Not neo-fascist white supremacy but the sort of guilt laden excursions into identity politics which blame all the world’s problems on whitey. Described as “veteran political activists” by the publisher, Ayers and Dohrn argue white supremacy is the guiding ideology of the United States by pointing attention to the “unexamined bigotry” in “war policy and education.”

Didn’t you know we bombed Germany in the name of white pride. I wonder if Ayers or Dohrn are being considered as possible choices for Secretary of Education by Obama?

Here is a blurb:

White supremacy and its troubling endurance in American life is debated in these personal essays by two veteran political activists. Arguing that white supremacy has been the dominant political system in the United States since its earliest days—and that it is still very much with us—the discussion points to unexamined bigotry in the criminal justice system, election processes, war policy, and education. The book draws upon the authors’ own confrontations with authorities during the Vietnam era, reasserts their belief that racism and war are interwoven issues, and offers personal stories about their lives today as parents, teachers, and reformers.

I can’t wait to read it…