Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Signs of a culture that is collapsing: higher education in disarray

Higher education today is a mess. Many institutions are involved in an arms race, strongly competing to attract students with scholarship and student loan money they bring with them. Institutions are building facilities that are much more fancy, thus more appealing, than ever before. New dorms, sports and fitness centers, student centers, dining facilities; the list goes on.

And the “everybody needs to go to college” craze has put thousands on campuses that don’t need a traditional college degree.

Those of us who went to college many years before this arms race began endured sparsely appointed dorms and other comparatively plain-Jane facilities, but managed to come out with a solid education. That austere environment is not good enough anymore.

A 2014 survey by the University of California Los Angeles showed that there are five times more liberal professors than conservative professors on college faculties these days. The worst aspect of this is that many of them have taken on the role of proselytizers, forsaking their duty to guide learning and maturation in their subject area in favor of indoctrinating students into the poisonous world of leftist politics, which they now refer to as “progressivism,” since “liberalism” is no longer credible.

The liberalization of the college campus has led to a disintegration of the traditional college atmosphere at many institutions, where students once were exposed to and challenged by a broad range of ideas. That healthy environment has become an intellectually stultifying atmosphere where students are afraid of their own shadows, and ideas differing from their narrow range of acceptable ideas send kids running to hide under the bed in their hotel-like dorm room.

“Trigger warnings” are expected or required to protect those who desire only peace and harmony in their environment from “unsuitable” content, and “safe zones,” where students may seek refuge from the rigors of life, are routine. Student demands played a part in these developments

The recent focus on transgenderism, and the bending-over-backward efforts to accommodate it, has produced a policy at West Virginia University, where anyone failing to use the personal pronoun preferred by each and every person who claims to be transgender is breaking a federal law on sexual discrimination, and will be treated as a lawbreaker by the university, despite that transgenderism has absolutely no grounding in science whatsoever.

Two questions arise: (1) How does someone know which of WVU’s 29,000 students claims to be transgender, and (2) in the event they actually are able to discern this, how are they supposed to know which of the 30 different pronouns approved by WVU applies to which person?

“According to one study of the 2010 census,” notes, “the population of transgender people amounts to one in every 2,400 Americans, or 0.03 percent of the adult population.” Another question: How few people are too few to propel the politically correct into action, spawning another uproar over some thought or action that has virtually no affect?

Back in the 60s and 70s a long and often-troubled struggle to desegregate schools and put black and white students in the same learning environment reached its peak. Forty years later, some want to reverse that. Everything old is new again.

Columnist and professor Walter Williams writes, “Hampshire College will offer some of its students what the school euphemistically calls ‘identity-based housing.’ That’s segregated housing for students who — because of their race, culture, gender or sexual orientation — have ‘historically experienced oppression.’” This idea extends to racially segregated classes where students will feel better when surrounded by those just like them.

In his column titled “College Campus Lunacy,” Williams supports that title by listing some course titles that if completed successfully confer college credit on students: “Philosophy and Star Trek,” “Demystifying the Hipster,” “Recreational Tree Climbing,” and “Kayne vs. Everybody.” Such courses, he said, are the work of faculty, to whom college presidents and trustees have apparently surrendered the running of those institutions.

Now, however, an institution of higher education has decided that it’s time to call a halt to political correctness. University of Chicago Dean of Students John Ellison warned incoming students in a letter that there is no tolerance for the kind of student demands that have emerged recently. “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

“Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn, without fear of censorship,” Ellison wrote. Noting the importance of civility among and between parties, he stated, “We expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times, this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.”

A college education should help prepare young people to cope with life, not to fear it. Political correctness is an infection threatening the nation. Getting rid of it on campuses is a big step toward producing young Americans that are educated, grown up, and prepared to experience life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The American immigration system, a la President Barack Obama

A common refrain about immigration is that the U.S. “is a nation of immigrants.” People coming to the colonies built what would become the United States of America, and since then millions have immigrated here.

“Most immigrant groups that had formerly come to America by choice seemed distinct, but in fact had many similarities,” as explains. “Most had come from Northern and Western Europe. Most had some experience with representative democracy. With the exception of the Irish, most were Protestant. Many were literate, and some possessed a fair degree of wealth.”

Most, but not all immigrants intended to become American citizens. Some, however, returned to their native land after earning money to send home. Not all were good people; some were criminals, mentally ill, anarchists, and alcoholics.

Furthermore, many Americans were not thrilled about immigration, and tells us, “In 1917, Congress required the passing of a literacy test to gain admission. Finally, in 1924, the door was shut to millions by placing an absolute cap on new immigrants based on ethnicity. That cap was based on the United States population of 1890 and was therefore designed to favor the previous immigrant groups.”

Throughout the decades and the problems and controversy that accompanied immigration, diversity came to the US, which had become a nation of primarily peaceful, self-reliant, hard-working people, qualities they generally passed on to the next generation.

However, the concept that America is a nation of immigrants is less and less valid. Today, the USA is a nation not so much of immigrants, but principally a nation of the descendants of people who were immigrants generations ago; a nation of Americans.

Our government has the duty to admit immigrants who want to become good American citizens, as demonstrated in the previously discussed examples of acts affecting immigration. No sensible person would allow people they cannot be virtually certain are good and honorable people into their homes; our government must be every bit as cautious.

But instead we find that the current immigration system is wholly dysfunctional, and the responsibility goes squarely on the shoulders of President Barack Obama and his administration. The idea held by many on the Left – that we are morally obligated to admit any and all who seek entry, legally or otherwise – is not just dumb, it is dangerous. And that concept has no basis in history or in the Constitution.

Nevertheless, that foolish idea has strong support, and it set the stage for what happened in a hearing of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee this past April, when Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, addressed comments to those testifying, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Sarah Soldana.

Chaffetz listed some startling facts:
** In a three-year period Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has released more than 86,000 criminal aliens into the American public. These are people who were here illegally, got caught committing a crime, were convicted of that crime, and instead of deporting them, they were released back out into the United States of America. All told they had more than 231,000 crimes of which they were convicted.
** In 2015, 196 of these people were convicted of homicide, and ICE released them back into the public, rather than deporting them.
** One hundred and twenty-four of those who were released between 2010 and 2015 went on to commit homicide.
** In 2013 ICE released 36,007 criminal aliens who were unlawfully in the United States. As of September 2014, 5,700 of those individuals went on to commit additional crimes.
** In March of 2015, the director of ICE testified before this committee that during fiscal year 2014 ICE released another 30,558 individuals with a combined 79,059 criminal convictions, instead of deporting them. Of those 30,558 criminal aliens 1,895 were charged with another crime following their release, including sex offenses, assault, burglary, robbery, and driving under the influence.

“And ICE told us that in 2015 the agency released 19,723 criminal aliens with a combined 64,197 convictions,” Chaffetz said, “including: 934 sex offenses, 804 robberies, 216 kidnappings, and 196 homicide-related convictions. And that’s on your watch.” They were here illegally, committed crimes, were caught, tried and convicted, and then turned loose to prey on the American people again.

He then displayed an aerial photo of Notre Dame football stadium filled with game watchers, and said, “You released more people that were convicted of crimes and should have been deported than you can fit into that stadium. You’d still have people waiting outside in line. Those are the criminals that you released instead of deporting.”

Government’s job is to seal the borders from illegal entry, to thoroughly vet people before letting the acceptable ones in, and to prosecute and punish criminals. Put them in jail, or at the very least deport them and keep them out.

Do these colossal government failures rise to the level of criminal offenses? Should they? Or, is such dangerous and irresponsible behavior “merely” gross malfeasance? Is there no penalty for such wrongdoing, whether criminal or not?

Not in the administration of Barack Obama, where apparently the treacherous operation of this immigration system is a matter of celebration by his supporters.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Is the gender pay gap fact or fiction? Depends on how you look at it

“Women all over America deserve a raise,” Hillary Clinton has said, again and again. “There’s no discount for being a woman — groceries don’t cost us less, rent doesn’t cost us less, so why should we be paid less?”

Depending upon which numbers you choose, women in America make 77 cents or 79 cents for every dollar men make. These numbers come from the U.S. Census Bureau, 77 cents to the dollar from the 2010 Current Population Survey, and an increase to 79.5 as of 2014.

What Clinton is saying in essence is that if a male family practice doctor makes $160,000, a female family practice doctor only makes $126,400. If a male schoolteacher makes $56,610, a female teacher only makes $44,722.

An analysis by Colin Combs at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) tells us; “The claim that women only make 77 [or 79] cents for every dollar a man makes is usually followed by a call for a whole new wave of regulations and pay mandates to stop this discrimination. The gender pay gap is undeniably real; men earn more than women, on average. The question is ‘Why?’”

Partly, it is in how the numbers are determined, which is illustrated by the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that women make 83 cents for every dollar men earned in 2014, not 77 or 79 cents per dollar men earned. But there are other factors that must be considered in this assertion.

One of those factors is using the average pay for all men and the average pay for all women as the standard for analysis, about which Combs wrote: “What these statistics reveal is not what people are being paid for the same work, but what the average full-time working woman makes against the average full-time working man. It ignores differences in occupation. The average surgeon makes more than the average librarian, so if more men choose to be surgeons and more women choose to be librarians (which they do), this will be reflected in their average wage.” In reality, it is “unequal pay for unequal work,” Combs wrote.

The fact is that women voluntarily choose lower paying occupations, such as teaching, psychology and nursing, while men head toward computer science and engineering. Married women often reduce their participation in the job market for family reasons, and many other women are self-employed and run their own businesses. When adjusted for these factors, the results show that women do earn less than men, but only 5 to 7 cents less per dollar, not the much-heralded 21 or 23 cents.

The reasons for this smaller difference are not clear, Combs writes. Such things as salary negotiating skills or women being more risk-averse than men are suspected factors.  Since the true factors have not been determined, efforts to correct the difference will likely misfire; to solve a problem you first need to identify the problem.

The NCPA analysis quotes data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Women’s inflation-adjusted wages have been increasing at a rate significantly higher than men’s, or rising even while men’s wages fall.
While the real wages of both men and women without a high school diploma have fallen, this decrease is three times worse for men than for women.
Women’s wages have been rising, even as the wages of men with a high school diploma or associate’s degree have been falling. Women are much more likely than men to interrupt their work for familial reasons, such as maternity leave.

Combs cites a Labor Department study conducted by CONSAD Research Corporation saying the 77 cent figure is misused and overshadows many real gains made by women since the 1970s. This is being done “to advance public policy agendas without fully explaining the reasons behind the gap,” the study said.

Never being one to let mere facts interfere with a good opportunity for demagoguery and pandering, Clinton charges ahead with her pledge to use government to get women a raise that they have largely already gained without her help.

“Our false preoccupation with pay equity is not costless,” said the Hoover Institution’s Richard A. Epstein, “for it leads to bad labor market regulations that hurt all workers.” Regulations imposed to achieve equality ultimately negatively affect the job market for both women and men.

Government tinkering with business elements it really knows nothing about, all to fix a small problem that it doesn’t understand is bad government. But bad government is a product that the Left produces in abundance.

This issue demonstrates how the Left is either unaware of, or simply chooses to ignore economic principles in order to pander to a special interest group to garner votes. Jobs have value based upon the dynamics of each business, and each business has its own dynamics. A government one-size-fits-all solution to this is, to be kind, highly unlikely to succeed.

An electorate that does not investigate issues and votes instead on emotion will help usher in more harmful policies like those that have prevented the U.S. from recovering from the recession that ended seven years ago.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Americans depend on accurate, balanced information from the media

After seven months since her last press conference in December, Hillary Clinton appeared before journalists last Friday. As reported, “Clinton spoke at a joint convention being held by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ).” This lengthy hiatus has brought heavy criticism from Donald Trump’s campaign, and even from the mainstream media.

Clinton held what many called a press conference in Washington, DC, last Friday that was open only to members of the NABJ and NAHJ – two ethnic groups that are generally friendly to her – according to a press release for the event. “It is notable that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has recognized the 2016 NABJ-NAHJ Convention as a vital gathering to discuss her platform and the issues impacting black and Latino communities,” said NABJ President Sarah Glover in the news release.

While the Slate piece was generally not complimentary of the responses Clinton gave to questions from the journalists, it did not mention the positive reaction she received to campaign positions prior to the question/answer period. Slate suggested the questions were submitted in advance for approval. A campaign appearance at a minority journalist organizations’ convention, with attendance limited only to members of those organizations, does not a press conference make.

It isn’t difficult to understand why Clinton, or any candidate, would want to speak at such an event, but it is fair to ask why objective journalists of any description would allow that, let alone invite it.

The Media Research Center outlined the fondness of CNN’s “New Day” for Donald Trump issues over the issues surrounding Iran and the payment of $400 million in possible ransom money for four hostages held by the Islamic nation. MRC’s detailed the allotment of time on the two topics: “CNN set aside nearly half of its air time on Wednesday's “New Day” to various recent controversies involving the Trump campaign — 1 hour, 24 minutes, and 18 seconds over three hours. By contrast, the program clearly didn't think much of the Wall Street Journal's Tuesday revelation that the Obama administration secretly airlifted $400 million in cash to Iran. John Berman gave a 27-second news brief to the report, but didn't mention that the payment was sent on ‘an unmarked cargo plane.’ ‘New Day,’ therefore, devoted over 187 times more coverage to Trump than to the millions to Iran.”

No matter what you believe about the Iran hostage release and potential ransom payment, no matter what actually transpired, the utter clumsiness of making a payment for any purpose that way on that date warrants more than a half-minute in a three-hour program that spent 84 minutes on the Trump issues.

All major media organizations spent hours of broadcast time and dozens of printed pages on the Republican and Democrat nominating conventions. At each of these events one speaker addressed the delegates about the loss of a child.

At the Republican convention the mother of Sean Smith, one of the four American heroes killed in the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, spoke movingly about losing her son, and laid responsibility for it at the feet of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Pat Smith also noted that when her son’s body was brought home, Clinton “looked me squarely in the eye and told me a video was responsible.”

The following week at the Democrat convention Khizr Kahn and his wife Ghazala appeared and Mr. Kahn talked about the death of his son, Marine Capt. Humayun Khan, who died in Iraq heroically protecting his men. Kahn described himself and his wife as “patriotic American Muslims, with undivided loyalty to our country.” He then criticized Donald Trump for his comments about Muslims, and said, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.” Predictably, Kahn’s comments about Trump triggered a response.

“While all the grieving parents deserve sympathy, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) network evening and morning shows seemed to only care about the parents that showed up at the Democratic Convention,” reported. “Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala’s DNC appearance earned 55 minutes, 13 seconds of Big Three network coverage, nearly 50 times more than Pat Smith, whose RNC speech honoring her son earned just 70 seconds of airtime.”

The First Amendment protects free speech, and that includes newspapers, television and radio news operations; they are free to say what they like, bound generally by the same restrictions as individuals. The difference is that the public depends upon media sources for information upon which people base important decisions, such as deciding whom to elect to important positions.

Therefore, news organizations have a solemn duty to provide balance to the news they cover and how they cover it, and news journalists – as distinguished from opinion journalists – should be proscribed from injecting bias and opinion into their work.

These recent examples show decision-making by journalistic organizations in selecting a convention speaker that raises questions about objectivity, and a clear, undeniable lack of balance in reporting on important events that Americans will use in deciding their choice for the presidency and other offices.

Surely the U.S. media can do better than this.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Democrats renew gun control measures for the campaign and beyond

The New York Times sees a renewal of Democrat’s efforts to increase restrictions on guns. The newspaper says that after 20 years of holding back on the gun control initiative, “a string of mass shootings involving high-powered weapons, rising anxiety about domestic terrorism, and killings of and by police officers have emboldened Democrats. They say the shootings are intensifying support for gun control, elevating weapons policy to a top-tier issue, with particularly strong appeal to suburban female voters.”

Democrats, The Times says, will press the case for new restrictions in political races across the country that will include expanded background checks, new limits on gun purchases and increased scrutiny on gun makers and dealers, all of which is buoyed by polls they say show strong support for these measures.

National Rifle Association (NRA) spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said, however, the American public would ultimately reject added gun control because Democrats, while cloaking their gun agenda in the language of “common sense,” really want to go much further. “The political elites and D.C. politicians don’t understand Middle America,” she said. “They don’t understand that voters support the Second Amendment and the individual right to self-protection.” The NRA says Clinton would put an individual’s right to self-defense at risk.

Connecticut Democrat Senator Christopher Murphy agrees that Clinton and other gun control advocates are committed to making the issue a major theme of the campaign, and should she win the November election will continue it in her presidency. “This issue is a core value for Hillary Clinton and it is good politics,” Murphy said. 

Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, also supports the idea that gun control will be a presidential initiative. Kaine has long been an advocate for stricter gun laws, moved by the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007 when he was Virginia’s Governor. The shooting, in which a South Korean student with mental health problems killed 32 students and faculty, prompted Kaine to seek to bar the mentally ill from acquiring guns. 

This idea has merit, but is fraught with potential danger in the hands of liberals, who so often fail to use due care in creating policy, and create as many problems as they solve. Liberals have the bad habit of indulging in what Dr. Thomas Sowell calls “stage-one thinking,” which ignores possible downstream results in order to rush through some “wonderful” idea.

In fact, the 2016 Democrat Party Platform states: “While responsible gun ownership is part of the fabric of many communities, too many families in America have suffered from gun violence. We can respect the rights of responsible gun owners while keeping our communities safe.” 

One of the favored talking points in support of restricting the rights of law abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families, and restrict their use of firearms for sport and recreation is that 30,000 people die in America each year from guns.

For the sake of discussion, let’s accept that 30,000 figure, which – taken all by itself, without context – is shocking. That’s a lot of people. 

However, when context is applied, that number seems substantially less damning. Considered as part of the roughly 320,000,000 total population of the United States, it represents just .0001 percent. That means each American has a one in ten thousand chance of dying from a gunshot each year. And that doesn’t dig down into the details of gun deaths, showing how many are accidents, suicides, or justified shootings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 20 times more people die from heart disease each year than from guns, and nearly that many die from cancer. More people – 42,700 – die from “intentional self-harm (suicide)” than from gun violence. 

In 2013, according to, which cites data from the CDC, motor vehicle deaths totaled 35,369, all homicides were 16,121, and in 2014, drug overdoses claimed 47,055 lives. 

Gun deaths do not appear on the list of the top ten causes of death in America. In fact, The Times quotes FBI data showing slightly more than 8,000 gun homicides in 2014, quite a difference from the overhyped 30,000 figure.

Conspicuously missing from the liberal tirade is that guns are inanimate objects, incapable of doing anything on their own. Like such things as hammers, kitchen knives and automobiles, guns are under the control of their user. Is this simple concept too complex for liberals to understand?

Or perhaps it just gets in their way: They know and understand that a disarmed populace is a compliant populace.

The Patriot Post notes, “This year’s [DNC] platform doesn’t even bother to mention the words ‘Second Amendment’ … Drafters opted instead for the meaningless tripe about how ‘gun ownership is a part of the fabric of many communities.’ Fabric can be changed. Rights endowed by our Creator cannot.”

The actions of average Americans tell a story different from Democrats. reports that women obtaining concealed carry permits increased at twice the rate of men from 2012 to 2016. And the Crime Prevention Research Center notes that the murder rate fell by16 percent between 2007 and 2015.

Yet again Democrats are wrong about what Americans think.