Invasion of the Infinite Realm 7

The brilliant researcher – and self-declared atheist and conservative – Heather Mac Donald writes:

Another academic year, another fattening of campus diversity bureaucracies. Most worrisomely, the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields are now prime targets for administrative diversity encroachment, with the commercial tech sector rapidly following suit.

The pursuit of discovery and understanding in the Infinite Realm of the mind is a venture in liberation. It does not matter there whether your body is strong or weak, what color your skin is, or what you feel. You hunger for nothing but knowledge. No other appetites – alimentary, sexual, hubristic – vex you there.

To enter it, you turn to the study of science, technology, engineering, mathematics. The study of the humanities will not get you through the door.

There are people – most perhaps – who do not want to leave bodily hungers, emotion, the self and its desires behind. If they visit the Infinite Realm at all, it is to view it from the deck of a cruise ship of the Studies Line, named Women Studies, Black Studies, Latino Studies, Diversity Studies, Gender Studies, Protest Studies, Oppression Studies, Peace Studies, Studies Without Borders.

And the glimpse they have of the Infinite Realm disturbs them. They see who goes in. For whom the door opens. The privileged.

And look – they are almost all men, too many of them white. You can tell they are unfeeling. They do not cast a compassionate glance at the tourist crowds leaning on the rails of the Studies ships, victims of exclusion oppression, yearning to be let in.

Oh, that unassailable citadel! Oh, that locked door! However many voyagers on the Studies ships were to batter it, it would not yield.

But the will of so many people, documented and undocumented, must not be frustrated.  If more women and “people of color” are not admitted in equal numbers to the white men, then the Infinite Realm must be changed. It can still be called the realm of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, but it must become a place where your body, your color, your sex, and above all your feelings matter. It must be feminized, diversified, gendered. It must become a temple where the new gods Diversity, Inclusion, Compassion preside.

The most significant new diversity sinecure has been established at the University of California, Los Angeles, where the engineering school just minted its first associate dean of diversity and inclusion. The purpose of this new position is to encourage engineering faculty to hire more females and underrepresented minorities, reports the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper. “One of my jobs,” the new dean, Scott Brandenberg, told the paper, is “to avoid implicit bias in the hiring process.”

The new engineering-diversity deanship supplements the work of UCLA’s lavishly paid, campus-wide Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Jerry Kang, whose 2016 salary was $444,000. Kang, one of the most influential proponents of the “implicit-bias” concept, already exerts enormous pressure throughout the university to hire for “diversity”. Even before his vice chancellorship was created, any UCLA professor hoping for the top rank of tenure had to write a “contributions to diversity” essay detailing his efforts to rectify any racial and gender imbalances in his department.

The addition of a localized diversity bureaucrat within the engineering school can only increase the focus on gender and race in hiring and admissions decisions. (Brandenberg, of course, expresses fealty to California’s beleaguered ban on racial and gender preferences in government. But it would be naive to think that the ubiquitous mandate to increase “diversity” does not inevitably tip the scale in favor of alleged victim groups.)

No evidence exists that implicit bias is a factor in the engineering school’s gender and racial composition. Its percentage of female undergraduate and graduate students – about one quarter – matches the national percentage reported by the American Society for Engineering Education. I asked the school’s spokesman, Amy Akmal, if UCLA Engineering was aware of any examples of the most qualified candidate being overlooked or rejected in a hiring search because of implicit bias; she ignored this fundamental question. (She also ignored a question about the new dean’s salary.)

Every science department in the country relentlessly strives to improve its national ranking through hiring the most prestigious researchers. It would be deeply contrary to their interests to reject a superior candidate because of gender or race. And given the pools of federal and private science funding available on the basis of gender and race, hiring managers have added incentive to favor “diverse” applicants. Contrary to the idea that females are being discriminated against in hiring, Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci found that female applicants for STEM tenure-track positions enjoyed a two-to-one advantage over similarly qualified males in paired resume experiments.

The director of UCLA’s Women in Engineering program trotted out the usual role model argument for gender-and race-conscious decision-making. Audrey Pool O’Neal told the Daily Bruin that she never saw anyone who looked like her (black and female) when she was an undergraduate and graduate student. “When I do teach classes, the female students let me know how much they appreciate seeing a woman in front of their classroom,” O’Neal said.

Why not appreciate seeing the best-trained scholar in front of your classroom? Any female who thinks that she needs a female in front of her in order to learn as much as she can, or to envision a career in a particular field, has declared herself a follower rather than a pioneer – and a follower based on a characteristic irrelevant to intellectual achievement. If it were really the case that a role model of the same gender is important to moving ahead, it would be impossible to alter the gender balance of a field, assuming such a mission to be worthwhile, which – absent a finding of actual discrimination – it is not. Marie Curie did not need female role models to investigate radioactivity; she was motivated by a passion to understand the world. That should be reason enough to plunge headlong into the search for knowledge.

The Columbia University Medical Center has just pledged $50 million to diversify its faculty and student body, reports the Wall Street Journal, part of a new $100 million diversity drive across the entire university. Never mind that Columbia University has already fruitlessly spent $85 million since 2005 toward the same end. Never mind that there is a huge gap between the MCAT scores of blacks and whites, which will affect the quality of subsequent hiring pools. Columbia’s vice provost for faculty diversity and inclusion regurgitates another classic of diversity boilerplate to justify this enormous waste of funds. “The reality is that you can’t really achieve excellence without diversity. It requires diverse thought to solve complex problems,” says vice provost Dennis Mitchell.

Mitchell’s statement is ludicrous on multiple fronts.Aside from the fact that the one thing never sought in the academic diversity hustle is “diverse thought”,  do Mitchell and his compatriots in the diversity industry believe that females and underrepresented minorities solve analytical problems differently from males, whites, and Asians? A core plank of left-wing academic thought is that gender and race are “socially constructed”. Why then would females and underrepresented minorities think differently if their alleged differences are simply a result of oppressive social categories?

Columbia’s science departments do not have 50/50 parity between males and females, which, according to Mitchell, keeps them from achieving “excellence”. Since 1903, Columbia faculty members have won 78 Nobel Prizes in the sciences and economics. The recipients were overwhelmingly male (and white and Asian); somehow, they managed to do groundbreaking work in science despite the relatively non-diverse composition of their departments.

The only thing that the academic diversity racket achieves is to bid up the salaries of plausibly qualified candidates, and redistribute those candidates to universities that can muster the most resources for diversity poaching. The dean of UCLA Engineering, Jayathi Murthy, laments that of the 900 females admitted to the undergraduate engineering program in 2016, only about 240 accepted the offer. “There are (about) 660 women there that are going somewhere else and the question is . . . is there an opportunity for us to do something differently,” she told the Daily Bruin.

Presumably, those 660 non-matriculants are getting engineering degrees at other institutions. If the goal (a dubious one) is to increase the number of female engineers overall, then it doesn’t matter where they graduate from. But every college wants its own set of “diverse” students and faculty, though one institution’s gain is another’s presumed loss.

The pressure to take irrelevant characteristics like race and sex into account in academic science is dangerous enough. But Silicon Valley continues to remake itself in the image of the campus diversity bureaucracy. Dell Technologies announced in September a new “chief diversity and inclusion officer” position. Per the usual administrator shuffle, the occupant of this new position, Brian Reaves, previously served as head of diversity and inclusion for software company SAP. Reaves will engage the company’s “leaders” in “candid conversations about the role of gender and diversity in the workplace,” said Dell chief customer officer Karen Quintos in a press statement. “Candid” means: you are free to confess your white cis-male privilege. “Candid” does not mean questioning Dell’s diversity assumptions, as this summer’s firing of computer engineer James Damore from Google made terrifyingly clear to any other potential heretics. …

Official scientific organizations have all turned obsessively to the diversity agenda. Any academic scientist who wants to move up in administration – or apply for grants, leave, or access to the conference circuit – must be on a crusade against his fellow scientists’ microaggressions and implicit bias. This is good news for the diversity industry, but bad news for America’s scientific competitiveness.

So why are scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians laughing?

Because, fortunately, university faculties of the STEM fields are not the Infinite Realm itself. Nor are the campuses of the Silicon Valley technology giants.

Funny that. The army of diversity administrators grows and grows. More and more STEM faculties in more and more universities appoint more and more diversity officers. But the frustration remains. Because that castle, which the people on the Studies cruises were told was the Infinite Realm, and which has been commandeered by the diversity police, and now has a day care annex, a free clinic, a gym, a safe place with coloring-in books and stuffed animal toys, a diner, unisex bathrooms, and 50 offices for diversity administrators (none for scientists, technologists, engineers or mathematicians), was not the real thing.

Truth is, the Infinite Realm is abstract. No matter who you are, of what tribe or caste or clan or breed or birth, if you can think you can enter. For the Infinite Realm is in your own head or else it does not exist for you at all. And no diversity officer, or law, or politically correct opinion, or Antifa riot, or grant from George Soros, can make any difference to that immutable fact.

Posted under education, liberty, Race, Sex by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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Censoring the internet 6

The internet was a revolutionary environment that liberated individuals to make their own choices. Bloggers could compete with big media. Leaked emails could bring down a government. But the internet is becoming less free. Access is controlled by a handful of tech companies that keep getting bigger and bigger. The survivors of the scale wars will combine cable, content and commerce in new ways. And in a politicized culture, they won’t just signal their political views, they will enforce them.

So Sultan Knish writes at his website on the subject of internet censoring by those who control the technology:

How can you tell that internet censorship is really taking off? Easy. It’s becoming a business model.

Steven Brill is raising $6 million to launch News Guard. This new service will rate news sites on their trustworthiness from green to red. Forget politically unbiased algorithms. The ratings will be conducted by “qualified, accountable human beings” from teams of “40 to 60 journalists”.

Once upon a time, journalism meant original writing. Now it means deciding which original writing to censor.

“Can trust be monetized?” The Street’s article on News Guard asks. But it isn’t really trust that’s being monetized. It’s censorship. It’s doing the dirty work that Google and Facebook don’t want to do.

But nevertheless do, as we know from experience. We will come to that.

The Dems and their media allies have been pressuring Google and Facebook to do something about the “fake news” that they blame for Trump’s win. The big sites outsourced the censorship to media fact checkers. The message was, “Don’t blame us, now you’re in charge.”

Facebook made a deal with ABC News and the AP, along with Politifact, FactCheck and Snopes, to outsource the censoring for $100K. When two of these left-wing groups declare that an article is fake, Facebook marks it up and viewership drops by 80%.

Eighty percent!

Not only does the roster of fact checkers lean to the left, but so do its notions of what’s true and false. For example, Snopes and Politifact both insist that General Pershing’s forces never buried the bodies of Muslim terrorists with pigs. But General Pershing specifically stated in his autobiography, “These Juramentado attacks were materially reduced in number by a practice that the Mohamedans held in abhorrence. The bodies were publicly buried in the same grave with a dead pig.”

Both the New York Times and the Scientific American reported on it at the time. Despite that Snopes rated this widely accepted historical fact as “False” and Politifact marked it as “Pants on Fire”.

Snopes also recently marked a story that Christ Church in Virginia is removing a George Washington plaque as false even though the church publicly announced that it was doing so.

Politifact and Snopes are entitled to their incorrect opinions. The trouble is that they don’t extend the same privilege to those they disagree with. And Google and Facebook promote fake fact checks while burying sites that discuss actual historical facts. The big internet companies don’t want to get involved in all these arguments. But nor are they willing to let their users decide for themselves anymore.

And so Net Nanny for news has become an actual business model. Instead of protecting children from pornography, News Nanny protects adults from news. And from views outside the left’s bubble.

By adopting the News Nanny model, Google and Facebook are treating their users like children.

The News Guard model is in some ways even more insidious than biased fact checking because it sets up lists of approved and disapproved sites. Google is rolling out something similar with its “knowledge panels” for publishers. Search for the New York Times and the panels will tell you how many Pulitzers the paper has won. Search for Front Page Magazine and the panel note describes it as, “Political alignment: Right-wing politics”. No note listing a left-wing political alignment appears in the panel for the New York Times despite its recent laudatory series about the Soviet Union and Communism.

The media never has an official political orientation. Not even when it’s cheering Communism. But its opponents and critics always have one. Follow Google’s link for Front Page’s political alignment and the top entry states, “Right-wing politics hold that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable.” 

That’s a wholly inaccurate description of either Front Page Magazine or conservative politics in America. And it’s another example of how the fight against “fake news” by the left actually ends up producing it.

Fact checking has become a pipeline to censorship. The big social and search companies outsource fact checking to third parties and then demonetize, marginalize and outright ban views and publishers that those third parties disagree with. Fact checks are no longer an argument. They’re the prelude to a ban.

Google and Facebook respectively dominate search and social media. When they appoint official censors for their services, those left-wing fact checkers become the gatekeepers of the internet.

And the internet isn’t supposed to have gatekeepers.

Senator Al Franken, of all people, made that point at the Open Markets Institute. OMI’s people have emerged as the leading opponents of big tech monopolies on the left.

“No one company should have the power to pick and choose which content reaches consumers and which doesn’t,” Franken said. “And Facebook, Google and Amazon, like ISPs, should be neutral in their treatment of the flow of lawful information and commerce on their platform.”

We never thought we’d have a good word to say about Al Franken. But this time we like what he said.

There is no more obvious example of the lack of neutrality than Facebook and Google’s partnership with “fact checkers”. If Net Neutrality means anything, it should strike down Google’s partnership with Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network and Facebook’s use of Snopes to silence conservatives.

When sites picked and chose content based on algorithms, they were deciding which content reached users based on what was likely to be popular. And, occasionally, based on their own agendas. Now they are picking and choosing which content reaches users based on political orientation.

While the advocates for Net Neutrality rage against cable companies, Comcast and Charter aren’t engaging in political censorship. No matter how they disguise it, Google and Facebook’s news nannies are. …

Trust in the mainstream media has never been lower. Yet the big tech companies insist that mainstream media sources are the only trustworthy ones. They want us to trust them, because they don’t trust us.

We do not want our posts to be “about us”. But this time we make an exception. Our Facebook page is being subjected to what is called “shadow-banning”. Fewer and fewer people are “reached”. Day by day the number of “likes” is decreased, stripped away, usually by twos and threes, but now and then by larger numbers. Last week we lost 30 in a few days. (The “likes” at the moment of this writing stand at 10,779; the number of our followers at 10,425.) Sometimes  when we have asked to “boost” a particular post (for which a charge is made), our request has been denied. We posted a complaint about being stripped of “likes” and having ever fewer readers, and sent it directly to Facebook, asking them why this was happening. We received no reply. But a regular long-time reader of our page sent us this information:

Well I just found out it’s worse than you know – I’ve been relying on my “feed” using the FB app for Android to see your posts since I both “like” and follow TAC. However, I just explicitly went to your page and encountered hundreds (yes, literally hundreds, going back many months) of TAC posts that have never appeared in my feed! What the hell can we do about this blatant censorship?

The discouraging answer is – nothing.

The Left, though politically weak, owns the culture. Owns the mainstream media. And owns the internet.

It is not our Atheism which offends our Facebook censors, it is our Conservatism.

The racist party and its war against America 5

The David Horowitz Freedom Center has published a new booklet by David Horowitz himself titled The Left’s Racist War Against Trump and America.

Here are some extracts which we have selected because they provide the gist of his argument – with which we completely agree:

[The] creed of the Democratic Party – “identity politics’ – is … the antithesis of the American idea. It regards diverse origins – color, ethnicities, genders and classes – as primary, and proposes a hierarchy of privilege based on them, which it justifies as a reversal of past oppressions. …

For the second time in its history, the Democratic Party has opted to secede from the Union and its social contract. The first time was over the issue of slavery [the Democrats were for it]; this time it is over the issue of whether Americans are to be divided by race, gender, sexual orientation and class.

But chiefly RACE.

This time there will be no actual civil war … The passions of an irreconcilable conflict are still present but they are channeled into a political confrontation over the executive power. …

[T]he animus behind Democratic assaults on Republicans and their support for law and order as “racist” is the direct consequences of viewing all social disparities through the distorted lens of oppression politics. Thus, the “over-representation” of African –Americans in the prison system is not because of systemic racism. Police forces have been integrated for decades, as has the entire criminal justice system. African-American are “over-represented” in the prison population because they are “over-represented” in the commission of actual crimes. Democrats’ embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement and its efforts to cast career criminals as civil rights victims and law enforcement officials as villains is an inevitable consequence of ignoring the specifics of cases and forcing them into the melodramatic framework of “racism” and “oppression”. …

The ideology that drives the left and divides our country is “identity politics” – the idea that the world consists of two groups – “people of color” who are guiltless and oppressed, and white people who are guilty and oppressors. This is the real race war. Its noxious themes inform the mindless, hysterical hatred for President Trump, and the equally mindless support for racist mobs like Black Lives Matter and Antifa. It is a war from which no good can come. …

In a nation which for eight years was headed by a black president, had two chief law enforcement officers who were black, has recently had two black secretaries of state and three black national security advisers, and has elected more than 10,000 black government officials; in a nation that has been governed for fifty years by statutes that outlaw discrimination by race and whose national culture is saturated with non-white heroes and icons – in such a nation, people who refer to America as “white supremacist” would normally be dismissed as an oddball fringe …

In contrast to the trivial representatives of organized Nazism, there are … tens of thousands of members of the American Communist Party, also a defeated totalitarian foe. Yet no one seems alarmed. There have been “Million Man” marches led by black racists Farrakhan and Sharpton. But “white nationalists” and Klan members can’t attract a sufficient number of supporters to even constitute a “march”. Black Lives Matter is an overly racist and violent group that is led by avowed communists and has allied itself with Hamas terrorists. It is an organization officially endorsed by the Democratic Party and lavishly funded by tens of millions of dollars contributed by Democratic donors like George Soros. But the self-congratulating denouncers of Nazism and white racism find nothing wrong with them. …

Democrats not Republicans were the principal resistors to the Civil Rights Acts. …

Who is oppressed in America? There are an estimated 65 million refugees in the world today fleeing oppression, but none of them are fleeing oppression in the United States. Why do Haitians and Mexicans risk life and limb to come to America? To be oppressed? They come because in America they have more rights, more privileges and more opportunities than they would in Mexico or Haiti, which have been governed by Hispanics and blacks for a hundred years and more. … America is the least racist most tolerant multi-ethnic, multi-racial society in the history of the world. America has outlawed racial supremacies of any kind. …

[W]hat the anti-Trump movement comes down to [is] the racist accusation that white supremacists, backed by 63 million American voters, have seized control of the American government and need to be overthrown.

But this is not really about Trump. It is about America, and beyond that it is the central theme of the attack on the democratic societies of the West, in particular their foundations in individual rights rather than group identities. This was evident in the reactions to the major foreign policy address Trump delivered in Poland on July 6 [2017]. His speech was a … defense of the West and its values … above all [the value] of individual freedom – that the wars against Nazism and Communism had been fought to defend. …

Trump issued a call to the people of the West to rally again to the defense of these values in the face of the new totalitarianism that confronts us: “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? … Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?” …

Trump’s speech was immediately attacked by the political left. The common theme of these attacks was once again the left’s race war against Trump and the country he leads.. …

The left is simply relentless in its commitment to identity politics … This animus is rooted in a racial and gender collectivism that is antagonistic to the fundamental American idea of individual rights applied universally and without regard to origins – to race, ethnicity or gender. The war to defend this idea is what created Trump’s candidacy and has shaped his political persona.

An American patriotism – which is precisely not about blood and soil, [and] which is the antithesis of racism and collectivism – is what drives Trump and his presidency. … Patriotism – a specifically American patriotism – is the loyalty that unites us and makes us equal. It is this patriotism with which the political left is at war, and the reason they hate this president and are determined to destroy him.

The Democratic Party is a racist party – now, still, as it always has been. And it is increasingly collectivist and totalitarian. 

It also aids and abets the advance of militant Islam, which is supremacist, totalitarian, homophobic, misogynist, anti-Semitic, savagely cruel and  murderous – and totally intolerant of all ideas that are not part of its primitive ideology. 

The evolution of liberty 1

Much as we respect The Declaration of Independence and honor its purpose, we do not agree with its great authors that the “Rights” of “all Men”, including Liberty, are “endowed by their Creator”.

And our disagreement is not simply because we do not believe in a Creator of the universe.

As to how Liberty arose in our civilization, we agree with this: :

Though Freedom is not a state of nature but an artifact of civilization, it did not arise from design. … This development of a theory of liberty took place mainly in the eighteenth century. It began in two countries, England and France. The first of these knew liberty, the second did not.

As a result, we have had to the present day two different traditions in the theory of liberty … the first based on an interpretation of traditions and institutions which had spontaneously grown up … , the second aiming at the construction of a utopia, which has often been tried but never successfully. …

What we have called the “British tradition” was made explicit by a group of Scottish moral philosophers led by David Hume, Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson, seconded by their English contemporaries Josiah Tucker, Edmund Burke, and William Paley, and drawing largely on a tradition rooted in the jurisprudence of the common law. Opposed to them was the tradition of the French Enlightenment, deeply imbued with Cartesian rationalism: the Encyclopedists and Rousseau, the Physiocrats and Condorcet, are their best-known representatives. …

[T]here is hardly a greater contrast imaginable between their respective conceptions of the evolution and functioning of a social order and the role played in it by liberty. … The British philosophers laid the foundations of a profound and essentially valid theory, while the French school was simply and completely wrong.

Those British philosophers have given us an interpretation of the growth of civilization that is still the indispensable foundation of the argument for liberty. They find the origin of institutions, not in contrivance or design, but in the survival of the successful. …

This demonstration … represented … an even greater challenge to all design theories than even the later theory of biological evolution. For the first time it was shown that an evident order which was not the product of a designing human intelligence need not therefore be ascribed to the design of a higher, supernatural intelligence, but that there was a third possibility – the emergence of order as the result of adaptive evolution.

– From The Constitution of Liberty by F. A. Hayek, Part One Chapter Four: Freedom, Reason, and Tradition.

How to shrink the government 4

We are often challenged on our Facebook page to explain how we are conservative – the prejudice behind the question being that all conservatives in America are religious Christians so “atheist conservative” is “an oxymoron”.

Our reply is that our principles, values, political aims are conservative, in that we are for: individual freedom, small government, low taxes, a free market economy, strong defense. We add that there is nothing about conservatism that requires belief in the supernatural.

Lower taxes should mean smaller government. Small, limited government is essential for individual freedom. Freedom requires and would naturally produce a free market.

A government should do only what only a government can do: protect the liberty of the people, and of the nation as a whole. Little more.

But is it possible to shrink a government that has grown enormously too big, doing far more than a government is necessary for, having far too much power?

Kris Kobach writes at Breitbart:

For more than eighty years, beginning with FDR’s New Deal, Americans have witnessed a constant increase in the size and scope of the federal government. This expansion has continued unabated during both Democratic and Republican administrations. 

Whether measured in terms of dollars spent, or in terms of percentage of Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”) consumed by the federal government, big government has become inexorably bigger.

In 1940, federal spending was a relatively modest 9.6% of GDP – or $9.5 billion out of $98.2 billion. In 2009 under President Obama, federal spending hit a high water mark (excluding the World War II years) of 24.4% of GDP – or $3,517.7 billion out of $14,414.6 billion.

The growth of the federal civilian workforce has slowed since 1960 – leveling off between 2.5 and 3 million – but this has masked the transfer of federal programs to state and local bureaucracies. Since 1960, the number of state and local government employees has tripled to over 18 million. This growth has been driven by a tenfold increase in federal grants to cities and states. For conservatives, this trend has been depressing. We plead for smaller government, but our cries have been futile as Congress and state legislatures refuse to make significant or lasting cuts in the size of government. The growth of the Leviathan has seemed unstoppable.

The forces pushing the expansion of government are powerful. Bureaucrats justify their existence by spending every dime appropriated to their agencies and then asking for more. Politicians of both parties find it easier to win votes by serving up pork than by offering austerity. Congresses deals with every crisis by spending money. And the progressive Left continually pushes the growth of entitlements for its own political advantage.

Fortunately, there is now hope in the fight against big government. There is a demographic sea change at work – something that has the potential to shift the forces in favor of conservatives who are serious about shrinking government. The baby boomers are retiring.

The baby boomer generation – those born between 1946 and 1964 – includes 76 million Americans. Over a 19 year period that started approximately in 2011, virtually all of them will retire. That’s an average of four million people retiring every year, or nearly 11,000 every day.  And a large percentage of them are working for the government. Government agencies across the federal government, as well as in state and local governments, are seeing a slew of retirements.

Take the Social Security Administration. Starting in 2011, the SSA began seeing 4,000 retirements a year. The same is happening throughout the federal government. The bureaucrats see this as a crisis. Conservatives should see it as an opportunity.

Attrition through retirement is causing federal and state workforces to turn over. Many of these retirees need not be replaced. The size of government can be dramatically reduced simply by making the decision not to fill every vacancy. And it doesn’t take an act of Congress to do it.  All it takes is political will in the executive branch not to fill vacancies. The only exceptions should be law enforcement agencies and the military.

But can it really be done in practice? The answer is yes, it can. I know because I’ve done it. Shortly after I became Kansas Secretary of State in 2011, I saw baby boomer retirements occurring in my own agency. Realizing this opportunity, I directed my deputies to reassign the duties of retiring employees to those who remained. Wherever possible, the open positions were not to be filled. We left approximately 1/3 of the vacancies unfilled.

Over the course of six years, I was able to shrink my agency’s workforce by 18 percent. We did it through natural attrition, without massive layoffs. The smaller payroll, along with other cuts, also allowed me to reduce agency spending by over 30 percent. And the agency is still carrying out all of the same responsibilities that it was back in 2011.

The same must be done in the federal government and in state governments across the country. President Trump has already taken the first steps.  In January he imposed a freeze on hiring. And in March he issued an executive order directing agencies to find redundancies and other ways to make cuts.  Looking at the bloated federal bureaucracy, he pointed out, “Today there is duplication and redundancy everywhere.” Consequently, “Billions and billions of dollars are being wasted.”

When the hiring freeze is lifted, as it eventually will be, President Trump should order the relevant departments to fill no more than 2/3 of the vacancies that exist. Without such an order, the career bureaucrats will carry on as before, deeming every position necessary to be filled.

The baby boomers are creating those vacancies by the thousand as they retire. Fortunately, this historic opportunity coincides with a President who is serious about cutting the size of government. If he declines to fill those vacancies and if state governors do the same, we could witness the first substantial reduction in big government in our nation’s history. But it will take political will to make it happen.

It would be a start, but there would still be a long way to go to small government.

One helpful measure would be to deny government employees the right to vote. While they have it, they are all too likely to vote in their own interest – of course – and that means voting for the Party of Big Government.

It is not very likely to happen, even under a Trump administration. But it’s a good conservative idea.

Posted under Economics, government, liberty, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, September 6, 2017

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The greatest civilization, if lost will never come again 1

Ours is the civilization that built the modern world. 

We built it, and, if we do not maintain it, and defend it, then, as Donald Trump says, it will never come again.

So Mark Steyn writes.

President Trump’s speech in Warsaw was a remarkable statement from a western leader in the 21st century – which is why the enforcers of our public discourse have gone bananas over it and denounced it as “blood and soil” “nativism” (The New Republic), “racial and religious paranoia” (The Atlantic), and “tinpot dictator sh*t” (some comedian having a meltdown on Twitter). … This was the offending passage:

There is nothing like our community of nations. The world has never known anything like our community of nations.

We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers.

We reward brilliance. We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression.

We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives. And we debate everything. We challenge everything. We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves.

And above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom. That is who we are. Those are the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilization.

I’m not certain we do put “faith and family” ahead of “government and bureaucracy”, …

And we atheists, of course, do not think that “faith” is a positive good …

… not in Germany or even Ireland, but we did once upon a time. Nor am I sure we still “write symphonies”, or at any rate good ones. But Trump’s right: “The world has never known anything like our community of nations” – and great symphonies are a part of that. I’m not sure what’s “nativist” or “racial” about such a statement of the obvious, but I note it’s confirmed by the traffic, which is all one way: There are plenty of Somalis who’ve moved to Minnesota, but you can count on one hand Minnesotans who’ve moved to Somalia.

As an old-school imperialist

For which we praise Mr. Steyn  …

…  I make exceptions for sundry places from Barbados to Singapore, which I regard as part of the community of the greater west, and for India, which is somewhat more ambiguously so, but let’s face it, 90 per cent of everything in the country that works derives from England.

But otherwise Trump’s statement that “the world has never known anything like our community of nations” ought to be unexceptional. It’s certainly more robust than Theresa May’s and David Cameron’s vague appeals to “our values” or “our way of life”, which can never quite be spelled out – shopping, telly, pop songs, a bit of Shakespeare if you have to mention a dead bloke, whatever… For his part, The Atlantic‘s Peter Beinart preferred the way Trump’s predecessor expressed it:

To grasp how different that rhetoric was from Trump’s, look at how the last Republican President, George W. Bush, spoke when he visited Poland. In his first presidential visit, in 2001, Bush never referred to “the West”.  He did tell Poles that “We share a civilization”.  But in the next sentence he insisted that “Its values are universal”. 

I wish that were true. It would be easier if it were. But it’s not. These values are not “universal”: They arise from a relatively narrow political and cultural tradition, and insofar as they took root elsewhere across the globe it was as part of (stand well back, Peter Beinart!) the west’s – gulp – “civilizing mission”.

Alas, left to fend for themselves, those supposedly universal values have minimal purchase on millions upon millions of people around the planet – including those who live in the heart of the west.

Yes. Millions of the children of the capitalist West, endowed with liberty, prosperity, tolerance, security, opportunity, good health, education, entertainment, luxury, hate the civilization that nurtures them, rebel against it, and call for its destruction. In Europe and America they are gathering in their tens and even hundreds of thousands to riot. They are smashing, burning, maiming, killing.  

They call the countries that allow them to do this in the name of freedom and tolerance, “fascist” and “oppressive”.

Equipped with their iPhones, which only Western freedom, capitalism and prosperity could have given them, they try to pull the house they live in down upon their heads.

And behind them, safe in their castles, mysteriously untouched by the law, are deeply evil people who pay the thugs who lead them:

Mark Steyn continues:

Bush’s bromide is easier to swallow because it’s a delusion – as we should surely know by now, after a decade and a half of encouraging Pushtun warlords to adopt Take Your Child Bride To Work Day. In contrast to Bush’s happy talk, Trump concluded his laundry list of western achievement on a sobering note:

What we have, what we inherited from our — and you know this better than anybody, and you see it today with this incredible group of people — what we’ve inherited from our ancestors has never existed to this extent before. And if we fail to preserve it, it will never, ever exist again. So we cannot fail.

That, I think, is also true. Were a catastrophe to befall our world – an EMP strike or a widespread nuclear exchange, a sudden devastating virus or a zombie apocalypse – we could not rebuild the modern world in anything like the time-frame in which we originally constructed it. The technological reason is obvious: The industrial revolution was powered by comparatively easily extractable coal and oil. We extracted it and used it to develop the skills to get at the less easily extractable stuff. A global calamity would put us back to Square One, but with resources we could only reach at Square Twelve. That goes for more basic human resources, too: We have lost a lot of the skills of our ancestors, because we assumed they were no longer required. And in a less quantifiable way it applies to artistic achievement, too. So, in a fairly routine stop on a foreign tour, Trump has introduced a rather profound warning:

What we’ve inherited from our ancestors has never existed to this extent before. And if we fail to preserve it, it will never, ever exist again.

It will never come again. Is there a “racial and religious paranoia” to this? Even the Globalist Kingpin himself, Klaus Schwab, founder of Davos, sees it as basic demographic arithmetic:

“Look how many countries in Africa, for example, depend on the income from oil exports,” Schwab said in an interview ahead of the WEF’s 46th annual meeting, in the Swiss resort of Davos. “Now imagine one billion inhabitants, imagine they all move north.”

As I commented at the time:

A billion man march, eh? The population of the developed world – North America, the European Union, Japan, Oz, NZ – is about a billion. Of the remaining six billion people around the planet, is it really so absurd to think that one-sixth of them would “move north” if they could? Or if they chanced to see a YouTube video of “refugees” in Sweden and Germany demonstrating how easy it is?

The population of Africa is projected to grow from one to four billion in the course of this century – to about two-fifths of the planet’s people. Is it remotely likely that 40 per cent of humanity will choose to stay in the most dysfunctional continent on earth when it can’t support a population a quarter that size?

And if a billion people move to the west what chance those “universal values”? Even the crappy Cameronian ones like lousy pop concerts, which in Sweden are already being canceled and boycotted because of the, um, lively interaction between vibrantly diverse non-universal values. As Trump continued:

We have to remember that our defense is not just a commitment of money, it is a commitment of will. Because as the Polish experience reminds us, the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail and be successful and get what you have to have.

Indeed. In Sweden, the most “enlightened” and “progressive” social democracy on earth, under a self-proclaimed “feminist government”, cannot muster the will to defend the right of its women to enjoy an evening of music in the park unmolested. It’s a small pleasure, but illustrative, as Trump grasped, of an existential question:

The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it? …

Our own fight for the West does not begin on the battlefield — it begins with our minds, our wills, and our souls. Today, the ties that unite our civilization are no less vital, and demand no less defense, than that bare shred of land on which the hope of Poland once totally rested. Our freedom, our civilization, and our survival depend on these bonds of history, culture, and memory. …

I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph

As I said, a remarkable speech. …

I am nowhere near as confident of that answer. But he raised the question at a time when no other western leader will. It is a measure of our decay and decadence that the question is necessary, but in an age of cultural relativism a statement of the obvious is daring and courageous: Ours is the civilization that built the modern world – as even the west’s cultural relativists implicitly accept, if only because they have no desire to emigrate and try to make a living as a cultural relativist in Yemen or Niger. We built it, and, if we do not maintain it, and defend it, then, as Donald Trump says, it will never come again.

It will never come again.

President Trump asks the great question of our time 1

Yesterday (July 6, 2017) President Trump said in the speech he gave in Poland:

The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it? 

Our citizens did not win freedom together, did not survive horrors together, did not face down evil together only to lose our freedom to a lack of pride and confidence in our values. We did not and we will not. We will never back down. 

Giulio Meotti writes at Gatestone:

In a historic speech to an enthusiastic Polish crowd before the meeting of the G20 Summit leaders, US President Donald Trump described the West’s battle against “radical Islamic terrorism” as the way to protect “our civilization and our way of life”.  ,,,

After an Islamist suicide-bomber murdered 22 concert-goers in Manchester, including two Poles, Poland’s prime minister, Beata Szydło, said that Poland would not be “blackmailed” into accepting thousands of refugees under the European Union’s quota system. She urged Polish lawmakers to safeguard the country and Europe from the scourges of Islamist terrorism and cultural suicide:

Where are you headed, Europe? Rise from your knees and from your lethargy, or you will be crying over your children every day.

A few days later, the European Union announced that it would begin proceedings to punish Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for their refusal to accept [Muslim] migrants …

These Central- and Eastern European countries know that Western Europe’s multiculturalism has been a recipe for terror attacks, for a start.

As Ed West of The Spectator noted:

Central Europe, chiefly Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, remain largely safe from the terror threat … It is precisely because the reasons for this are so obvious that they cannot be mentioned. Poland is 0.1 percent Muslim, most of whom are from a long-settled Tartar community, Britain is 5 percent, France 9 percent and Brussels 25 percent, and those numbers are growing.

What is presumably “obvious” here is that Poland and Hungary are not hit by Islamic terror attacks because they have very few Muslims, while Belgium and UK it is the reverse. Europe would probably [no, certainly – ed] have been safer if it had followed Eastern Europe’s example.

Eastern Europe not only shows a greater understanding of Western culture than Western Europe does; these Eastern countries have also been far more generous to NATO, the bulwark of their independence and security. Culture and security go hand-in-hand: if you take your own culture and civilization seriously, you will be ready to defend them.

A brief look at the NATO’s members’ military spending as a percentage of GDP shows that Poland meets the 2% target, unlike all the Western European countries. Only five of NATO’s 28 members – the U.S., Greece, Poland, Estonia and the U.K. – meet the 2% target. Where is France? And Belgium? And Germany? And The Netherlands? …

Poland – unlike Belgium, Italy and other European countries – is not a “free rider” but a trustworthy partner to its US ally. Poland showed loyal support to the United States both in Afghanistan and Iraq, where its troops fought the Taliban and helped to topple Saddam Hussein.

Which is why –

… President Trump selected Poland, a country that fought both Nazism and Communism, to call on the West to show a little willingness in its existential fight against the new totalitarianism: radical Islam.

The international Left is not against totalitarianism. It never has been. The Democratic Party is now a party of the far left.

The existential fight for our civilization, the defense of it “at any cost” that President Trump has called for, is a fight not only against “radical Islam”, but against the Left.

In America, the fight for our civilization is a fight against the Democratic Party.

To celebrate liberty 1

The American Revolution was against the Crown; against George III; against England, but not against the English tradition.

Thomas Jefferson would not recognize the “collective mentality of contemporary Americans” as being “in any meaningful way” what he thought of as “American”.

So writes the Libertarian columnist Ilana Mercer at Townhall. She goes on to say:

The Jeffersonian mind was that of an avowed Whig — an American Whig whose roots were in the English Whig political philosophy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Come to think of it, Jefferson would not recognize [contemporary] England as the home of the Whigs in whose writings colonial Americans were steeped — John Locke, Algernon Sidney, Paul Rapin, Thomas Gordon and others.

The essence of this “pattern of ideas and attitudes,” almost completely lost today, explains David N. Mayer in The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson, was a view of government as an inherent threat to liberty and the necessity for eternal vigilance.

Indeed, especially adamant was Jefferson about the imperative “to be watchful of those in power”,  a watchfulness another Whig philosopher explained thus: “Considering what sort of Creature Man is, it is scarce possible to put him under too many Restraints, when he is possessed of great Power.”

“As Jefferson saw it,” expounds Mayer, “the Whig, zealously guarding liberty, was suspicious of the use of government power,” and assumed “not only that government power was inherently dangerous to individual liberty but also that, as Jefferson put it, ‘the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground’.”

For this reason, the philosophy of government articulated by Jefferson in the Declaration radically shifted sovereignty from parliament to the people.

“Equality” did not mean to Jefferson what it means to the mind of most  American political leaders now:

By “all men are created equal,” moreover, Jefferson, who also wrote in praise of a “Natural Aristocracy”, was certainly not implying that all men were similarly endowed. Or, that they were naturally entitled to healthcare, education, a decent wage, amnesty, or entry into the country he and the Constitution makers bequeathed.

Rather, Jefferson was affirming the natural right of “all men” to be secure in their enjoyment of their “life, liberty and possessions”.

But Jefferson’s muse for the “American Mind” is even older.

Notwithstanding the claims of the “multicultural noise machine”, the Whig tradition is undeniably Anglo-Saxon.

Our Founding Fathers’ political philosophy originated with their Saxon forefathers

With the Declaration, Jefferson told Henry Lee in 1825, he was also protesting England’s violation of her own ancient tradition of natural rights.

As Jefferson saw it, the Colonies were upholding a tradition the Crown had abrogated.

Philosophical purist that he was, moreover, Jefferson considered the Norman Conquest to have tainted this English tradition with the taint of feudalism. “To the Whig historian,” writes Mayer, “the whole of English constitutional history since the Conquest was the story of a perpetual claim kept up by the English nation for a restoration of Saxon laws and the ancient rights guaranteed by those laws.”

If Jefferson begrudged the malign influence of the Normans on the natural law he so cherished, imagine how he’d view America’s contemporary cultural and political conquistadors — be they from Latin America, the Arabian Peninsula, and beyond — whose customs preclude natural rights and natural reason!

Naturally, Jefferson never entertained the folly that he was of immigrant stock. He considered the English settlers of America courageous conquerors, much like his Saxon forebears, to whom he compared them. To Jefferson, early Americans were the contemporary carriers of the Anglo-Saxon project.

The settlers spilt their own blood “in acquiring lands for their settlement”, he wrote with pride in A Summary View of the Rights of British America. “For themselves they fought, for themselves they conquered, and for themselves alone they have right to hold.” Thus, they were “entitled to govern those lands and themselves”.

Like it or not, Thomas Jefferson, author of The Declaration, was sired and inspired by the Anglo-Saxon tradition.

We wish all lovers of liberty a jubilant Independence Day!

The mainstream media: a lethal disease in the body politic 1

The greater part of the news media has become a united power dedicated to promoting the Left’s agenda and discrediting opposition to it.

Truthful reports, widely disseminated, of events that affect us all are absolutely necessary to a properly functioning republic.

Comment on them should be free. If free, it will be diverse.

But the left-wing media are claiming a monopoly of comment, as this article by Daniel Greenfield at Front Page explains and deplores:

The media finally found its hero.

Its hero was Brian Karem … the correspondent for Playboy, who whined that Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, the Deputy White House Press Secretary, was “bullying” the abused media.

Vox dubbed Karem “heroic” for defending “CNN’s honor.” The media’s “honor” has fallen so low that it needs defending by the red light district. If the media’s honor gets any lower, its honor will need an assist from the Mafia, Mexican drug cartels, NAMBLA and the Toxic Waste Association of America.

What got Karem’s goat (and the goats of the rest of the media herd) was that Sanders had given the first question to Breitbart. And conservative sites are not entitled to the protections of the First Amendment.

A free press is crucial. And when the White House fights for a free press by diversifying the press corps, it’s upholding the spirit of a free press that the media cartel is fighting to kill.

The entire “Fake News” outcry that Karem and the rest of his “honorable” colleagues in the media are whining about began with a media plot to censor conservative sites on social media for “Fake News”. …

“I don’t like the entire institution of the press and free speech being castigated,” Brian Karem wheedled. “The foundation of a free republic is a free press.”

The media has reached rock bottom when a porn magazine’s correspondent starts claiming to be foundation of a free republic.

The foundation of a free republic is free people. Free people have the right to say what they please. They can do it on social media, at a political protest or in the pages of a newspaper. Freedom doesn’t begin and end with the media cartel. Even though the media cartel would like nothing better.

“We can’t take the bullying anymore. It’s undermining the fourth estate, it’s undermining the first amendment,” the Playboy correspondent whined elsewhere.

America isn’t supposed to have a Fourth Estate. That’s France. …

In France, the First Estate was the clergy, the Second Estate was the nobility, the Third Estate was the common people, the Fourth Estate was the press.

In the US now the press is not free:

It’s a cartel that leverages control over what was once the free press. Few conservatives are allowed into its ranks. Its partisan mission is to support the left and oppose the right.

Karem’s tantrum was an outgrowth of that larger battle. Its push for “fact checks” is a cynical effort to embed censorship of conservative media outlets into Facebook and Google News. [The media cartel]  is the greatest enemy of a free press. And it should be treated that way.

It’s an unelected and illegitimate fourth branch of government backed by a handful of powerful interests that insists on setting the national agenda, determining who gets elected and impeaching them if the voters disagree. That is the coup that the fourth branch is busy trying to pull on President Trump.

President Trump, Sarah Sanders Huckabee and others have called out the media as “Fake News”.  And that outrages the media cartel because it challenges its institutional authority. [Its]  institutional authority shouldn’t just be challenged, it must be broken. …

 A free press does not attempt to usurp democracy. That is the entire purpose of the media cartel. It manufactures an artificial consensus through mass communications propaganda.

The internet has made the media irrelevant. It also killed the very last of its ethics and journalistic integrity.  All that remains are a network of partisan left-wing sites trailed by dead tree paper and dead cable outlets integrated into one heaving mess that connects CNN to ESPN to Playboy to Teen Vogue.

The media cartel is a network of money and power. This illegitimate network intersects with other institutional left-wing networks in the non-profit sector, the political sector, the academic sector and many others. Each network is a thread in a spider web that is choking the life out of this nation. And at the center sit the radical spiders that pull all the strings.

The obscene efforts of the media cartel to wrap itself in the tattered shrouds of the First Amendment are as disgusting as a man who murdered his parents begging the court to have mercy on an orphan. [It] is waging a ruthless campaign to censor its opponents under the guise of “Fake News”. Yet it plays the victim when it is criticized (rather than censored) for the dishonest lies of its partisan agenda.

It has made war on the Constitution. It rejects some parts of the Bill of Rights entirely. It is now engaged in a gargantuan effort to reverse the results of a national election. And when it is called out for its abuses of power, it contends that to criticize it is to undermine the foundation of a free republic.

Off-camera briefings should become off-media briefings. Media outlets that want to act like campus crybullies should be booted. Dot coms that clamor for Net Neutrality but then use media “fact checks” to censor conservative competitors should be called out for their partisan hypocrisy.

The White House’s battle against the media cartel is the best defense of the First Amendment.

Americans, from the government to the streets, must make it clear that there is no fourth branch of government. Only when the media cartel has been broken, can a free press rise once again.

Posted under liberty, media, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, July 3, 2017

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A voice for reason 0

Zach Wood quietly and persuasively defends freedom of speech.

He even catches a moment when Barack Obama said something in favor of it!

Posted under education, liberty, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Sunday, May 21, 2017

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