Race Against Time Is There a High-Minded Justification for Dems’ Divisive Rhetoric? James Taranto

This column probably isn’t the first to notice a recent intensification of liberal and Democratic rhetoric about race. Last month Paul Ryan was the object of a Two Minutes Hate for some comments on the culture of poverty “in our inner cities,” which, as The Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial, were no different in substance from things President Obama had recently said.

This Sunday, as Politico notes, Rep. Steve Israel of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told CNN’s Candy Crowley that “to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism.” He did allow that “not all” House Republicans are racist, though he didn’t specify how many or which ones he thinks are.
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Obama and Sharpton last week Associated Press

Last Wednesday Eric Holder, in a speech to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, complained that he had faced “unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity,” ABC News reports. “Look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee. What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”

Although Holder didn’t specifically accuse his adversaries of racial motives, others, including Crowley, assumed that was what he meant. Politico reports that in her interview with Israel, “Crowley said that Holder believes ‘the treatment he has received in the House . . . would not have happened if he were not African-American.”

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, appearing on Sharpton’s MSNBC show, went so far as to suggest that Republicans had been soft on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius because she’s white, as the Daily Caller reports incredulously.

For this rise in the racial temperature we blame not global warming but political cooling. As November approaches, Democrats face not only an unfavorable election map but an increasingly chilly electorate. From last month’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza pulled presidential approval numbers for four key Democratic constituencies. Obama was below 50% among three of those groups: single women (48%, to 45% disapproval), Hispanics (49% to 46%), and voters under 30 (45% to 48%). Only among blacks was approval still strong, 78% to 12% disapproval.

Coalition of the Disappointed Obama Fires up Racial and Gender Resentments to Get Out the Vote.


You can tell it’s an election year because so many noncrises are suddenly urgent priorities. Real median household income is still lower than it was in 2007, the smallest share of Americans is working since 1978, and the Russians are marching west, but Democrats are training fire on race, gender and the grievances of identity politics.
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President Barack Obama Zuma Press

“We have this congenital disease, which is in midterm elections we don’t vote at the same rates,” President Obama said at a Houston fundraiser the other day. He means that the Obama Democrats are now what they call the “coalition of the ascendent,” made up of minorities, young people, single women and affluent, college-educated cultural liberals. The problem is that this year they may be a coalition of the disappointed, so Democrats are trying to scare them to the polls with pseudo-controversies.

Take last week’s East Room reception for feminist celebrity Lilly Ledbetter, when Mr. Obama declared that “today the average full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns; for African American women, Latinas, it’s even less. And in 2014, that’s an embarrassment. It is wrong.” He’s right that it’d be wrong, except he knows this isn’t close to true.

The “pay gap” is the ratio between median earnings for men and women, according to Census Bureau data. But adjust for hours worked, occupation, decisions about marriage and children, education and risk, and equal work means equal pay. The war on women is really a war on meaningful statistics.

To wit, applying the same broad median-earnings standard to the White House shows that female staffers make only 88 cents on the dollar of their male counterparts. The White House should indict itself for disparate-impact bias. Spokesman Jay Carney defended the hornet’s nest of sexism where he works by insisting, “That the problem exists in a lot of places only reinforces the need to fix it.”

So how’s that working out? Readers may remember the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that was the first bill Mr. Obama signed in January 2009. The measure was little more than a trial lawyer payoff, but Mr. Obama called it “a simple fix to ensure fundamental fairness” and end the injustice of “women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn.” Five years later, they’ve lost a penny by his own reckoning.

Still, women don’t have it as bad as Attorney General Eric Holder, who in a speech last week departed from his prepared remarks to feel sorry for himself after a testy House hearing. “What Attorney General has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?” he asked. “What President has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”

Mr. Holder should recall the treatment of his predecessor Alberto Gonzales before implying that his critics are racist, but then he sees Jim Crow everywhere. In his speech before Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, he said the right to vote faces “unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity.”

Some 34 states now require voters to show some form of government-issued photo identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, up from zero in 2006. The states say such rules uphold public confidence in the integrity of the ballot.

And if the states are secretly trying to suppress minority turnout, they’re doing a lousy job. The Census reports that the black voting rate rose 13 percentage points from 1996 to 2012. At 66.2% black participation in 2012 surpassed the rate for non-Hispanic whites (64.1%).


A first-hand account of how one of America’s elite schools became the latest flash point of anti-Israel activism and anti-Semitic intimidation.
When I first set foot on the University of Michigan campus four years ago, I felt like I was prepared for anything. I was determined to challenge myself and my beliefs. I was determined to learn from incredible professors and students. I was determined to make a difference. What I was not prepared for was a campus community polarized and paralyzed by a global political issue that had little to do with life at Ann Arbor.

I was not prepared to be told that, if I cared about human rights, I could not support Israel. I was not prepared to be told that my community was racist. I was not prepared to see my fellow students attacked with anti-Semitic slurs. And I was most definitely not prepared to be told that “anyone wearing the Israeli army uniform is a Ku Klux Klansman who does not deserve any place at any table in polite society because they are racist killers trying to break the back of Palestine, and they have succeeded.”

I heard these words for the first time as a newly elected student government representative in the winter of 2012. The University of Michigan’s Central Student Government (CSG) consists of a 50-person elected assembly with representatives from every undergraduate and graduate school. During the weekly assembly meetings, there is a section for Community Concerns, during which people have three minutes to address the assembly on any topic. I expected that this time slot would consist of students discussing new curriculum requirements or better dining facilities. Instead, it often consisted of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate speech. Every week certain individuals would urge students to take action against “the racist, Nazi state of Israel”; and every week I would sit there feeling utterly helpless.

China on the Edge by Gordon Chang

The second thing we get wrong about China is that it is safe to ignore periodic Chinese threats to incinerate our cities and wage war on us. They employ salami-slicing tactics, as with Scarborough Shoal… so that they do not invite retaliation.

If we cannot say these things clearly and publicly, the Chinese will think we are afraid of them. If they think we are afraid of them, they will act accordingly.

Chinese leaders do not distrust us because they have insufficient contact with us. They distrust us because they see themselves as protectors of an ideology threatened by free societies.

There is something very wrong in China at the moment. China, I believe, has just passed an inflection point. Until recently, everything was going its way. Now, however, it seems all its problems are catching up with the Chinese state at the same time.

The country has entered an especially troubling phase, and we have to be concerned that Beijing—out of fundamental weakness and not out of strength—will lash out and shake the world.

So what happened in the past decade?

To understand China’s new belligerent external policies, we need to look inside the country, and we might well start with the motor of its rise: its economy.

Everyone knows China’s growth is slowing. Yet what is not obvious is that it is slowing so fast that the economy could fail.

The Chinese economy almost failed in June. There were extraordinary events that month including two waves of bank defaults. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country’s largest bank—the world’s largest bank—was obviously in distress: it even had to shut down its ATMs and online banking platforms to conserve cash. The Bank of China, the country’s third-largest lender, was also on the edge of default.

There was panic in China in June, but central government technocrats were able to rescue the economy by pouring even more state money into “ghost cities” and high-speed-rail-lines-to-nowhere.

Doing so created gross domestic product—economic output—but that was the last thing Beijing should have been doing at that—or this—moment. China, at every level of government, is funding all its construction with new debt. You think America has a debt problem; China’s is worse.

As one economist told us recently, every province in China is a Greece.

China, after the biggest boom in history, is heading into what could end up as the biggest debt crisis in history. This is not a coincidence.

Soon, there must be a reckoning because the flatlined economy is not able to produce sufficient growth to pay back debt. If we ignore official statistics and look at independent data—such as private surveys, corporate results, and job creation numbers—we see an economy that cannot be expanding in the high single digits as Beijing claims.



“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, first inaugural address, 4 March 1933.

The standard interpretation of this inane statement is that we shouldn’t allow our fears to overcome a commitment or determination to act. This was a tidewater year for the Progressives, who wanted to turn their “retreat” into an “advance.” Roosevelt was their political point man, and a host of economists and academics acted as his “bandstand” backup chorus. A literal construction of the statement is:

We shouldn’t allow a knowledge of the consequences of our proposed statist policies to stop us from enacting those policies. Whether or not those policies accomplish their ends, it is important that we “advance” and not be terrified of the certain outcome. We shouldn’t be afraid of turning the country into a fascist/socialist slave state. It is for the “public good,” and the “public good” justifies any action the state may take to secure it. If that means abrogating, rescinding, or abridging individual rights, if that means crippling the economy, and redirecting Americans’ wealth and efforts in a more public-spirited direction, so be it. We must all pull together. Anyone caught slacking at his oar, or mumbling against the whip-wielding overseers, will be isolated, vilified and punished. Possibly even tossed overboard.

Never mind that it was the federal government’s fiscal policies that caused the Depression and perpetuated it. More “needed efforts” are imperative to convert a free country into a minimum security prison.

A new book has been published which partly explains why today we are burdened with an arrogant federal government (and its state-sized copy cat minions), one endlessly expanding the scope of its powers, Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time, by Ira Katznelson.* Katznelson is Ruggles professor of political science and history at Columbia University, president of the Social Science Research Council, and research associate at Cambridge University’s Centre for History and Economics. He is a dyed-pink Progressive and liberal and advocate of precisely the welfare state and command economy we are enduring today. His book covers the beginning of the New Deal up to the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952.

The Progressive – read socialist – antecedents of The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) are impeccable. A Wikipedia account of the SSRC names many of the usual suspects. Founded in 1923,

To support its work, the SSRC turned not to the U.S. government, whose support seemed more appropriate for the natural sciences, but to private foundations. For the first fifty years, well over three-quarters of the SSRC’s funding was provided by the Russell Sage Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, and two Rockefeller philanthropies, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The SSRC was part of a wider Progressive Era movement to develop organizations of expertise that could dispense disinterested knowledge to policymakers. These organizations would tap leading thinkers in various fields to think creatively about how to rid the nation of the social and political ills brought on by the Industrial Revolution.

The knowledge gathering was not so “disinterested” – it was knowledge collected to “prove” the necessity of a planned economy and a regimented society. And the “ills” of the Industrial Revolution were inherited from conditions prevalent in the pre-Industrial Revolution. If there were any societal “ills” left once the Revolution got into full swing, they were a consequence of statist policies in America and in Europe.

But, enough of focusing on the ideological familiars of Progressivism. Katznelson’s book, while a friendly and commodious history of the New Deal’s origins at a daunting 720 pages, focuses on one aspect of the New Deal and FDR’s policies: the Democratic Party and its continuing tradition of racism. He makes a very strong and credible argument that FDR’s New Deal and its swollen progeny were largely made possible by members of Congress, especially from the southern states, who were outspoken racists and who were able to “whip” the votes to pass New Deal legislation. It was a quid pro quo trade-off, a matter of horse-trading and logrolling between the executive and legislative branches of government.

In short, FDR and his brain trust wanted to pass welfare state legislation and economic controls over the whole nation. The southern states wanted to preserve their Jim Crow legal structure and societies from interference from Washington, under the guise of “states’ rights.” The southern states controlled the voting blocs in the Senate and House. The arrangement was amenable to both sides as long as no one paid it much attention. FDR did his best to scratch the backs of vociferous bigots in Congress, and the bigots scratched his back and surrendered the right of their states to remain economically independent from Washington.

The Democratic Party has a history – nay, nearly a tradition – of racism and keeping blacks on the federal plantation of dependency and electoral servitude. Ronn Torossian, in his April 14th FrontPage article, “The Racist, Discriminating Democratic Party,” reminds us that:

The Republican Party was born just prior to the Civil War for the sole purpose of combating slavery and it fought against the party of slavery. The Republican Party is the party of freedom and economic liberty and prosperity – as it was then and now. The Democratic platform of the 1860s was a pro-slavery policy that sought to keep people enslaved. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Democratic Party was the enforcer of “Jim Crow” laws and segregation. In 1964, there was a filibuster of the Civil Rights Act by Democrat Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) which lasted 14 hours. The Act was crafted and supported by a vast number of Republicans in the Senate, while opposed by southern Democratic senators (including Al Gore Sr).

I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that the Republicans are still pro-freedom. I doubt very much they know anymore what they ought to be for. And the Civil Rights Act is a usurpation of the right of free association and assembly. In a truly free country, racists and bigots would be marginalized and not fare well, either socially or economically. However, this much is true:

Today, the Democrats continue to keep people in place and pursue centralized government, as a further way for more government control, particularly over the poor. The Democratic Party seeks to tell people how to eat, raise their families, and in this administration, how to have healthcare.

And the coin has been reversed since Senator Byrd and George Wallace’s hegemony. Now it is black Congressmen and white-guilt liberals who dominate the Democratic Party.

Katznelson’s book is an unapologetic apologia for how the current federal behemoth came into being. To his credit, he pulls no punches while discussing not only how FDR was able to get his statist legislation passed and implemented with the help of southern politicians, but why the arrangement also contributed to the U.S. making the totalitarian Soviet Union its chief ally during World War II, with Roosevelt and his political allies knowing full well the brutal truth about the Soviet Union: that it was a dictatorship with the blood and deaths of millions on its hands.

Katznelson’s thesis, which he thoroughly documents throughout (there are 181 pages of lengthy end notes), is that:

The South was singular. There, a racial hierarchy and the exclusion of African-Americans from the civic body were hardwired in law, protected by patterns of policing and accepted private violence, which created an entrenched system of racial humiliation that became everyday practice…

…[T]he farther South one went in the United States, the greater the influence in shaping the content of the New Deal. We will discover the central role played by the once-slave South in Congress, where representatives from the seventeen states mandating racial segregation were pivotal members of the House and Senate. Democrats, nearly to a person, they were the most important “veto players” in American politics. Both the content and the moral tenor of the New Deal were profoundly affected. Setting terms not just for their constituencies but for the country as a whole, these members of Congress reduced the full repertoire of possibilities for policy to a narrower set of feasible options that met with their approval. No noteworthy lawmaking the New Deal accomplished could have passed without their consent. Reciprocally, almost every initiative of significance conformed to their wishes. (pp. 15-16)

Home Fires :How Soldiers Write Their Wars by George Packer ****


Every war is ironic because every war is worse than expected,” Paul Fussell wrote in “The Great War and Modern Memory,” his classic study of the English literature of the First World War. “But the Great War was more ironic than any before or since.” The ancient verities of honor and glory were still standing in 1914 when England’s soldier-poets marched off to fight in France. Those young men became modern through the experience of trench warfare, if not in the forms they used to describe it. It was Yeats, Pound, Eliot, Joyce, and Lawrence who invented literary modernism while sitting out the war. Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, Edmund Blunden, Isaac Rosenberg, and Wilfred Owen—who all fought in the trenches and, in the last two cases, died there—remained tied to the conventions of the nineteenth century while trying to convey the unprecedented horror of industrial warfare, a condition of existence so murderous and absurd that a romantic or heroic attitude became impossible. The essence of modern understanding is irony, Fussell argued, and it was born on the Western Front.

Fussell wasn’t wrong about the Great War, but, in his insistence on its newness, he underestimated the staying power of military myths for each generation. Fussell cited a newspaper story about a London man who killed himself out of concern that he might not be accepted for service in the Great War, and noted, “How can we forbear condescending to the eager lines at the recruiting stations or smiling at news like this.” But in the summer of 1968 Tim O’Brien, a twenty-one-year-old in a small Minnesota town, a liberal supporter of Eugene McCarthy and an opponent of the war in Vietnam, submitted himself for induction into the United States Army. O’Brien couldn’t bring himself “to upset a peculiar balance between the order I knew, the people I knew, and my own private world,” he wrote, in “If I Die in a Combat Zone,” his 1973 Vietnam memoir. “It was not just that I valued that order. I also feared its opposite—inevitable chaos, censure, embarrassment, the end of everything that had happened in my life, the end of it all.” Was O’Brien’s fear of dishonor entirely different from the impulse that drove a forty-nine-year-old man to throw himself under a van in 1914?


Last weekend a small but well-armed and -armored federal task force under the Bureau of Land Management was forced to back off in the face of a group of unarmed (or lightly-armed) patriots on horseback and on foot in a gully near Bunkerville, Nevada. The courageous citizens who approached the federal barriers were told by bullhorn that they would be shot if they came any further, but they kept coming anyway.

This was a huge victory for those American patriots who want to re-establish the rule of law under the United States Constitution. For the past two days I’ve been browsing patriot networks, Second Amendment sites, and YouTube channels, and it’s clear that the libertarian resistance has been electrified by what happened at the Bundy Ranch. Ordinary citizens stood up to the federal government, and the feds backed down.

However, as most of us surmised on Saturday, this was merely a tactical retreat on the part of the BLM and the Obama administration. We are now in a “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” situation, which is untenable from the point of view of the federal government. In order to work their will upon the American people, the feds must be seen as invincible. But they aren’t — they’ve just proven that they don’t have the guts required to gun down patriotic citizens in cold blood. They have no broad-based support among the people — all they have is fiat money and the unlimited firepower that money can buy.

The invincibility of the federal behemoth must be re-established, and quickly, so expect a Round Two. According to the following report from a reader named Warren Smith, the BLM has backed off from the Bundy Ranch, but has not departed the area. They may well be planning further operations in that part of Nevada.


Irwin M. Stelzer is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute, and a columnist for the Sunday Times (London).
“The dinosaurs surviving the crunch” was how Stephen Sondheim described women living an outdated lifestyle and grimly aware that “everybody dies.” If Sondheim had the slightest interest in the less exalted subject of economics, he would apply that descriptive to a host of companies and industries trying to beat the hooded man with a scythe, aided by their regulators.

The most recent example comes to us courtesy of New Jersey’s automobile dealers—with an assist from their regulators and Governor Chris Christie—who have decided to follow the lead of Texas, Maryland, and Virginia and declare that Tesla, the maker of electric cars, has violated state law by attempting to sell its cars through its own network of stores rather than through franchised dealers. The New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJCAR), feeling threatened by a firm that sells fewer cars in a year than General Motors sells in a day, contends that the regulations do nothing more than bring Tesla into line with other manufacturers to create a level playing field, the sort on which beleaguered competitors prefer to compete so long as the referee/regulator is on their team. For “level playing field” read status quo.

If Tesla is allowed to eliminate the middleman, Ford, General Motors, and other manufacturers will follow suit, whines NJCAR. Yes, the consumer would save money, but if Governor Christie allowed this new and possibly more efficient method of distribution to take hold in New Jersey, he would surely lose lots of dealer votes and their financial support. So Christie, no stranger to issues in the transportation sector, told Tesla it can keep its stores as galleries but not discuss price or take orders. Any orders would have to be placed in stores in other states (Texas does not allow any such referrals), which would of course reap the sales taxes associated with the sales. Other states are under pressure from dealer organizations to follow New Jersey’s lead, or at minimum New York’s, where the governor and the legislature have cut a deal to allow Tesla to keep its five stores—but no more.


The right ideological credentials mean never having to say you’re sorry By Victor Davis Hanson
How do you ensure that you won’t be ostracized, denounced, or fired if you are a media celebrity, captain of industry, or high public official?

For some, sexist banter is certainly no problem. Stand-up comedian Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a c–t and a tw-t, but suffered no ill consequences. David Letterman joked on air that Sarah Palin’s 14-year-old daughter had had sex with Alex Rodriguez during a New York Yankees game. There was no downside to that either. President Obama tosses around “sweetie” as he wishes. No problem with that. No one believes Barack could be condescending to women.

It is not just that sloppy speech can, with the right ideological insurance, become irrelevant. Inconvenient truths can be insured against too. Barack Obama’s female staffers make far less than do their male counterparts, at least by the quirky sort of standards that the president himself applies to others to win petty victories in his vaunted war against the war against women. Bill Clinton had sexual relations with a young staffer, in what feminists would call a classic exploitative situation of disparate power. Most such bosses would be fired for hitting on their young assistants. If Woody Allen were not insured as a left-wing filmmaker, he would have been ostracized out of Hollywood.

Racism is not necessarily a job killer either. How could it be, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed during the 2008 campaign that a “light-skinned” Barack Obama spoke with “no Negro dialect.” Joe Biden, himself a candidate in that election, said of Obama that he was the “first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.” Despite such racist drivel, a fully ideologically insured Biden was rewarded with the nomination for vice president.


In After America (available here, he pleads, and the profits of which go to support my free-speech pushback against Michael E Mann), I write inter alia about Fort Hood, and in particular the disgraceful statement by General Casey, and the Pentagon’s absurd decision to classify what happened as “workplace violence”:

In the days after the slaughter, the news coverage read like a satirical novel that the author’s not quite deft enough to pull off, with bizarre new Catch-22s multiplying like the windmills of your mind: If you muse openly on pouring boiling oil down the throats of infidels, then the Pentagon will put that down as mere confirmation of your long-established “research interests”. If you’re psychotic, the Army will make you a psychiatrist for fear of provoking you. If you gun down a bunch of people, within an hour the FBI will state clearly that we can all relax, there’s no terrorism angle, because, in a micro-regulated credential-obsessed society, it doesn’t count unless you’re found to be carrying Permit #57982BQ3a from the relevant State Board of Jihadist Licensing.

And “Allahu akbar?” That’s Arabic for “Nothing to see here”.

Pace General Casey, what happened was not a “tragedy” but a national scandal.

Anwar al-Awlaki and his comrades have bet that such a society is too sick to survive. Watch the nothing-to-see-here media driveling on about “combat stress” and the Pentagon diversicrats issuing memos on “workplace violence” like gibbering lunatics in a padded cell, and then think whether you’d really want to take that bet. The craven submission to political correctness, the willingness to leave your marbles with the Diversity Café hat-check girl, the wish for a quiet life leads to death, and not that quietly. When the chief of staff of the United States Army has got the disease, you’re in big (and probably terminal) trouble. And when the guy’s on the table firing wildly and screaming “Allahu akbar!”, the PC kindergarten teachers won’t be there for you.

That’s true not just during the attack but for the ensuing half-decade: General Casey and the other “parade generals” (in that useful British phrase) and the vast swollen Pentagon bureaucracy have not been there for them. Mariah Blake has a piece in Mother Jones, of all places, that lays out in painstaking detail how, for Major Hasan’s victims, the United States Government has spent the last four-and-a-half years adding insult to the injuries he inflicted.

Full disclosure: If Ms Blake’s name rings a bell with readers, she’s the lady who interviewed me for the Mother Jones story about Mann vs Steyn. I wasn’t too thrilled with the way that turned out, if only because it made me sound a bit of a loon. But, on reflection, I am a bit of a loon, so maybe Ms Blake just zeroed in on the salient feature. Be that as it may, her Fort Hood piece is unsparing in its bleak portrait of what happens after the President, the cabinet secretaries and the other bigshots have departed the memorial service and you’ve outlived your usefulness as photo-op prop. Take Army reservist Keara Bono-Torkelson, who was shot in the back by Hasan:

She recalls the nurse at the Army hospital where she was rushed for treatment patting her on the head and telling her she was fine. Only weeks later, when she visited her family doctor in Missouri, did she discover that she also had a bullet lodged in her head.