Monday, August 31, 2009

The End of Meritocracy

The Today show has hired Jenna Bush Hager to do a monthly feature story on education. This seemingly innocuous announcement prompted one of the sillier recent outbursts of liberal hand-wringing. The New York Times's Opinionator blog collected some of the left-wing commentary under the title "There Goes the Meritocracy." If irony was intended it was too subtle for me to pick up.

Rather, the Times seems to take seriously various liberal commentators' claims that NBC's hiring of Ms. Hager, the author of two best-selling books for children, has some baleful significance: it's a sign that our nation is in its "late empire" phase, with "white Russians" dominating our political and media classes, and a symptom of our "national disease." Above all, the fact that NBC hired Ms. Hager indicates that our "great meritocracy" is a fraud.

If Ms. Hager had been hired to perform neurosurgery, this hand-wringing about "meritocracy" might have some force. But doing a once-a-month feature on a soft-news TV show? Good Lord, get a grip!

The old sock-puppet Glenn Greenwald, who apparently is still around, uses Hager's new job as the occasion for a broadside against the political and media industries:

They should convene a panel for the next "Meet the Press" with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy because it's really unfair for anything other than merit to determine position and employment. They can interview Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Jeb Bush, Bob Casey, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Dan Lipinksi, and Harold Ford, Jr. about personal responsibility and the virtues of self-sufficiency.

That's almost clever, except that if you're going to list politicians who have no apparent claim on office other than their names, it is ludicrous to omit Ted, Joe and Patrick Kennedy; not to mention Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, and numerous others on both sides of the aisle. But what, really, is the point? It's true that there are quite a few politicians who are the sons or daughters of politicians, but so what? That is true of most occupations. If your father is a doctor, you are more likely to become a doctor. If your father was a lawyer, you are more likely to become a lawyer. It happens a lot. I've seen no data suggesting that it is more common in politics (or journalism) than anywhere else. And politics is relentlessly competitive; even the worst candidates, like Joseph and Patrick Kennedy, take office only if most voters vote for them.

Two of the liberals quoted in the Times story somehow bring the conversation around to Sonia Sotomayer. It still isn't clear to me how she relates to Jenna Hager. Seemingly the idea is that because she came from an undistinguished background, we conservatives were obligated to support her nomination. Sure: just like liberals backed Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito, right?

The TImes gives the last word to the ever-hysterical Andrew Sullivan, who attacks the "nepotism" of Hager's hiring as symptomatic of our "late empire" status. I'm sure grand theories have been hung on a more slender thread, but I can't think when offhand.

Actually, though, it isn't nepotism. Neither President Bush nor any other of Jenna's relatives works for NBC News, and I think it's a safe bet that nearly all of the relevant people at the Today show and NBC detest Jenna's father.

I haven't read Sullivan for a long time, but the snippet quoted by the Times reminds me how unintentionally entertaining he can be: because NBC is hiring Jenna Hager--hey, he drew the connection, I didn't--the United States is on the verge of becoming "17th century Spain." Oh, sure. We understand, Andrew. We think you're sane, really we do.

So: do we have a meritocracy? Of course we do. If you doubt that, apply to medical school. Or try to rise in a sales organization without, you know, making sales. Is our meritocracy imperfect? Of course. Like every other human institution. Is Russia's meritocracy perfect? France's? Cuba's?

Is it a good thing to have a father who is President? Of course. Do you suppose Malia Obama will have some good opportunities one of these days? (As, by the way, her mother has already.) On the other hand, does having a President for a father guarantee success in life? Amazingly enough, in our great meritocracy it doesn't.

Our republic has survived many ups and downs. I predict, confidently, that it will survive Jenna Hager's monthly reports on education issues.


Statistics for the Day

You know what they say about using statistics in arguments: There are lies, damn lies and statistics. And from my perspective it seems that most of the health care debate has been mired in the first two of these, and little in the third.

I thought I'd take a little time today and do some research. I'll present below my findings. But first a disclaimer. For every statistic I've looked up, I've found multiple sources with varying numbers. The bottom line, in my opinion, is that nobody knows the real numbers for these statistics. Most of them are guesses. Some are educated guesses. Some might be pretty close. But nobody knows.

Here are the numbers cited for Americans without health insurance:

47 million: Americans without health insurance *
7 million: Illegal immigrants without Health Insurance
9 million: Americans on medicaid which are counted as "not having health insurance" but have health care
3.5 million: Eligible for medicaid but not enrolled
20 million: Choose not to be insured (young & healthy)
7.5 million: uninsured who cannot afford insurance or who are in and out of insurance due to changing jobs.

* The 47 million Americans include illegal immigrants who aren't really "Americans," but who are counted because most of the proposals before congress would cover them.

Let's break down those numbers even more:

There are an estimated 20 million illegal aliens in the United States. That number is a 2000 estimate. The number is probably much higher now, and will continue to rise. Most Americans are opposed to covering illegals. Most congressional democrats and current presidents strongly favor covering illegal immigrants. If we don't cover them, does it matter whether they are in the stats or not? If we do cover them, the cost estimates for KopechneCare (another suggestion for the name of the program) are grossly underestimated.

There are also approximately 2.3 million people incarcerated at any given time. That number is also rising. It is unclear whether or not they are counted in the uninsured statistics. Based on how they appear to be calculating those numbers, I'm guessing they are counted, but whether or not they are covered is unlikely to have an effect on the care the receive.

The number of people eligible for medicaid who are not currently enrolled is an estimate, also. A guess, at best. I suspect that number may be significantly higher. Many of these people are homeless and addicted to drugs or alcohol or have serious mental illness. Most of them would also be eligible for a government run health care program, but would unlikely apply for it and unlikely seek health care if they had it. A number of websites estimate the homeless population to be 3.5 million, but one source indicated that number, which comes from federal estimates, are the number of people that could be homeless at any time during a given year. In other words, if you are homeless one or two nights, you're counted. These people are hard to count, but given this estimate, you would expect the number of people who are eligible for medicaid who are not currently enrolled is probably higher than the statistic.

Of those who "choose" not to be insured, most of that number is likely to be able to afford insurance. These are generally young and healthy people who would rather spend a couple of hundred bucks a month on something else. If KopechneCare were passed, and if people still had the option to purchase the care, it is unlikely these people would be persuaded. They'd probably still be uninsured. If they did not have the option, this group is the most likely to sue the Federal Government on the grounds that the government doesn't have the constitutional right to force them to buy something they don't want and don't need.

There are a handful of other folks who don't fit into any of these categories. The one that comes most readily to mind is those who choose not to buy health insurance for religious reasons. I believe HR3200 allows these people to opt out, and it is likely that any other proposal that gets very far in Congress will do the same. Nonetheless, these people are counted among the uninsured and KopechneCare will not affect them. They will remain uncovered. Their numbers may be less than a couple of million, but I don't really know if there is any way to know for sure how many of them there are. It may, in fact, rise with government involvement. People who might be inclined to buy private insurance may decide that if the government is going to get involved and keep information and statistics on them, they will opt out and cite religious reasons when the reasons have more to do with politics and paranoia than religion.

The bottom line is, we don't have a health care crisis. We don't have a health insurance crisis. The nation isn't going to fall apart if we don't pass KopechneCare this year, but it may fall apart if we pass a plan to cover a smattering of people and it costs the nation trillions and trillions of dollars that we don't have.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

How To Destroy America

(Inspired by a video I saw a while back.)

If I were a terrorist and I wanted to destroy the American way of life, I wouldn't use planes and bombs to kill folks. Using such tactics is risky. You could get caught or killed. Or both.

Besides, those tactics don't really work. Yes, you can kill a few people that way, but it doesn't really destroy America. It actually strengthens America and the resolve of her people. Bombs and murder don't change people's minds.

No, flying planes into buildings and bombing public places isn't very effective.

If I were going to destroy America and the American way of life, I'd start by outsourcing the jobs. Move those good factory jobs and information jobs to foreign countries.

If I were going to destroy America, I would take over the banks. I'd loan money to people who can't afford to pay back the loans and then foreclose on their home, leaving them homeless and financially devastated.

If I were going to destroy America and the American way of life, I'd take control of the whole education system. I'd cut back on teaching basic things like math and reading and geography, and replace it with teaching a secular humanist world view that conflicts with the views of the founding fathers. I'd replace all the teachers who understand history and business and science and replace them with people who want to teach value systems and who want to re-write history into something other than what it is. I'd remove any reference to Christianity and to the Christian heritage of America and replace it with the idea that our founding fathers were agnostics and deists whose idea of God was that he was distant and unknowable and had nothing to do with government. I'd teach people that the founding fathers were afraid of religion and wanted to erase religion from public life.

If I were going to destroy America and the American way of life, I'd take over the nation's health care system. I'd create a huge bureaucracy and make the system expensive and inefficient. I'd compromise the quality of the nation's health so people would be distracted and not realize what was going on around them.

If I were going to destroy America and the American way of Life, I'd take over the media. I'd make the media complicit in my plan. I'd have them tell everyone that I was right and that any opposition to me was borne out of hate, racism and ignorance. I'd have the media portray my detractors as uneducated and unpopular, making mistakes with everything that comes out of their mouths. I'd tell lies; really big lies, and have the media report those lies as truth, so that the people would only believe the things that I wanted them to believe.

If I were going to destroy America and the American way of life, I'd raise taxes. I'd tax people so that they couldn't enjoy the fruits of their labors. I'd tax those who were successful the most. I'd take away any incentive to be profitable, or to innovate or to improve their way of life. Then, I'd take those tax dollars and pay off those who were working for the same agenda as me. I'd sit back in luxury and watch those Americans fight over the crumbs.

If I wanted to destroy America and the American way of life, I'd ask Americans to turn in their friends and neighbors. I'd tell them to report to me what was being said about me and my agenda. Then, I'd twist those things around to make myself look good, while at the same time keeping a list of those people who were trying to oppose me. I'd find ways to quiet those people.

If I were going to destroy America and the American way of life, I'd run up the nation's debt as high as I could. I would devalue the American currency and increase inflation by borrowing money from other nations and making sure that Americans couldn't afford to pay back those loans.

If I were going to destroy America, I would devalue human life. I'd call infanticide freedom of choice. I would tell the elderly and terminally ill that they have no more contributions to make society and that they may as well take a pill and die. I'd elevate animals to be equal to humans by giving them rights and insisting that people treat them the same as humans.

If I were going to destroy America, I would tear down the traditional nuclear family. I'd make single parenthood easy with government programs and welfare, ensuring generations of people raised in poverty and crime, dependent on the government. I'd promote single parenthood as virtuous. I'd promote a homosexual lifestyle as another choice and make homosexual marriage the same as traditional marriages.

If I were going to destroy America and the American way of life, I'd make everything a crisis. I'd make sure that everyone was scared by everything that was going on and convince them that only I was capable of fixing those things. I'd make sure that I blamed crisis after crisis on others, particularly on those who were trying to defend America and traditional American values and principles. I'd demonize those who disagree with me and make them responsible for everything bad that has happened. I'd cast myself as the nation's savior and promise hope for the future.

But I'm thankful that I live in the United States of America. And I thank God that we have people that represent us and who value America. We have representatives whose job it is to protect America and the Constitution above all else, and those people who represent us would never let those who want to destroy America get away with it.

Would they?


Friday, August 28, 2009

Quote of the Day


Ted Kennedy's Final Hypocrisy

When I read the news article about Kennedy's flip flop on how Massachusetts should replace a Senator unable to fulfill his term, I began formulating how I might post a blog titled "Ted Kennedy's Final Hypocrisy." Doug Bandow of American Spectator published the following article this morning that says what I was going to say much more eloquently than I could have.

It's a curious spectable. The Left turns someone who left a young lady to die in a car accident into an icon. Then after some of us remember the bad as well as the good about the man's life and character, his groupies shout outrage. They might want to ponder just a minute the life that Mary Jo Kopechne might have led had she not died as a result of Sen. Kennedy's recklessness and negligence 40 Julys ago. As Stacy McCain observed:

When news broke that Ted Kennedy had died, many people had a reaction quite similar to my own: "Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment." It's an old line I'd used often over the years whenever Teddy made news. While I thought I'd stolen it from Ann Coulter, someone else said it actually originated more than two decades ago as a Chevy Chase punchline on Saturday Night Live.

Far more current is the political, rather than moral, scandal of the Senator's last public utterance: his hypocritical call for the selection of his replacement by the governor through appointment rather than by the people through special election. Even a few Democrats are uncomfortable with this rush to let the politicians substitute their preferences for that of the public--the very people who Sen. Kennedy and others supposedly spent their lives defending. Reports the Wall Street Journal:

The question of how to fill Mr. Kennedy's seat is vexing Democrats. In 2004, Mr. Kennedy supported a special election rather than a gubernatorial appointment. Yet more recently, he wrote to Mr. Patrick and legislative leaders, urging that Massachusetts give the governor the power to appoint an interim successor.

Mr. Kennedy wrote that the governor should receive "an explicit personal commitment" from the appointee not to become a candidate in the special election. Mr. Patrick has supported the idea, and brushes aside concerns that Democrats were being inconsistent: "Massachusetts needs two voices in the United States Senate," he said this week.

In 2004, Democrats took the opposite tack. When some Republicans complained of the cost of a special election, Democratic Rep. William Straus said such reasoning might have been used in a "totalitarian country" and that "one person, whoever happens to be governor, will not make the decision for you."

In an interview Thursday, Mr. Straus stood by his words, saying he recently heard from many other Democrats who feel Mr. Patrick is making a mistake.

Mr. Straus said there always will be a pressing issue in Washington that seems more important than having an election. "We need to hold ourselves to the higher principles of democracy," he said.

Massachusetts state Sen. Brian A. Joyce, a Democrat who headed the election-laws committee in 2004, agreed. "If we were to allow an appointment, it would be wholly undemocratic," he said. "When you cut through the rhetoric on both sides, it's pure partisan politics."

There's nothing new about politicians switching sides for rank political purposes. But the Senator's conduct should be kept in mind as the encomiums about his "principles" flow. Yes, he was an ideological liberal. But he also was a hypocritical pol little different than so many of his colleagues in Washington and Massachusetts. And his final public action was to push to strip his constituents of their right to decide on his successor.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's Early, But . . .

Every year, Time magazine names its "Man of the Year," which isn't always a man, by the way. The "Man of the Year" has been a computer at least once, and a "Woman of the year" more than once, I believe.

Even though its way too early to even speculate, I doubt I'll wind up on the short list. Even though I won't be there, I'll make one prediction and one suggestion.

My prediction is obvious. Obama will be Time's "Man of the Year." There is no question that the liberal leaning magazine will make the most liberal president of all time the focus of their annual love-fest.

Now for my suggestion: The "Man of the Year" should be the nation's Anti-Government-Run Socialized Health Care demonstrators.

Obama seems to have abused and squandered the political capital he rode into Washington with, and as much as anything, that may have help to sabotage his socialized medicine scheme.

Of all the newsworthy stories of the year so far, none has been more surprising than the robust democratic process that the health care debate has reinvigorated in the people of this nation.

While Democrats are still trying to insist that the nationwide grass-roots movement against Obama's Draconian schemes is contrived and illusory, it is just the opposite. Nothing could be so real as the American people, emboldened by their passion for liberty, standing up against a callous, dishonest government trolling for its freedoms in exchange for false promises.

All the proof we need that Obama and the Democrats in Congress recognize the authenticity of this grass-roots protest is their hysterical reaction to it. They wouldn't be hyperventilating about if if they believed it to be fake, but they would use their supermajorities to ram through this bill.

Indeed, that congressmen have not been able or "courageous" enough (against the threat of being removed from office in 2010) to pass a bill that they have been salivating over for 30 years is the story of the year. Integral to that story is the unraveling of the Obama mystique, occasioned by Obama's ongoing arrogance and duplicity.

Move over Obama. Move over Michael Jackson. Time may not recognize it, but the "Man of the Year" is Joe Conservative.


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This blog is about my opinions and world view.  I am a conservative, evangelical Christian.  Generally speaking, if you post a comment, I'll allow you to express your view.  However, if you say something hateful, untruthful, or just generally something I don't like, I may remove it.

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