Friday, October 24, 2014


Former Secretary of Labor Bob Reich, on behalf of MoveOn, warns Democrats what will happen if Republicans take control of the Senate: they may use a “tricky, little-known maneuver” to “ram through” their “right-wing policies” with only 51 votes, instead of the 60 votes “usually required” in the Senate. Here he is:

So the “tricky, little-known maneuver” that the Republicans may use is reconciliation. Reconciliation dates to the 1974 Budget Act and has been used many times since to enact spending and tax legislation. The House Rules Committee explains the reconciliation process here.
Reconciliation has never been a partisan issue; it has been favored by both Democrats and Republicans for budget matters. But the most controversial use of the procedure, by far, took place in 2010 when the Democrats relied on it to pass Obamacare without a single Republican vote, and without having 60 votes in the Senate. James Capretta reminds us of that piece of history:
Without reconciliation, Obamacare would not have become law at all. It’s true that the main Obamacare structure was passed by the Senate in December 2009 under normal rules for legislative consideration. That’s because Democrats at that time had 60 votes (including two independent senators who caucus with them). They didn’t need to resort to reconciliation to pass the bill as long as all 60 of their senators stuck together and supported passage, which they did.
But then Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate race in January 2010; the Democrats lost their 60-vote supermajority and could no longer close off debate on legislation without the help of at least one Republican senator.
At that point, the president and his allies had two choices. They could compromise with Republicans and bring back a bill to the Senate that could garner a large bipartisan majority. Or they could ignore the election results in Massachusetts and pull an unprecedented legislative maneuver, essentially switching from regular order to reconciliation at the eleventh hour, thereby bypassing any need for Republican support. As they had done at every other step in the process, the Democrats chose the partisan route. They created a separate bill, with scores and scores of legislative changes that essentially became the vehicle for a House-Senate conference on the legislation. That bill was designated a reconciliation bill. Then they passed the original Senate bill through the House on the explicit promise that it would be immediately amended by this highly unusual reconciliation bill, which then passed both the House and Senate a few days later, on an entirely party-line vote.
Ironically, the Democrats’ use of reconciliation to pass Obamacare was indeed a “tricky maneuver,” unlike the standard use of reconciliation by both parties to move budget legislation. And note Reich’s discreet reference to the filibuster–60 votes are “usually required” in the Senate–except, of course, to the extent that Harry Reid unilaterally changes the rules. The filibuster is either reviled or, as here, hallowed, depending entirely on whose ox is being gored.
Reich knows all of this, but he is secure in the knowledge that the Democrats’ rank and file, including the donors to whom MoveOn’s video is addressed, are ignorant of the most basic facts of government and do not have memories that reach back to the distant past of 2010. So there is no effective constraint on dishonesty if you are a Democrat bent on fundraising.
Still, this must have been an uncomfortable moment for Bob Reich, who once thought he was somebody. To have to shill so disgracefully and mislead so baldly is a sad comedown for a former cabinet secretary.

Racist Telephone Poles

Racist Telephone Poles
What do you see when you look at a telephone pole? Nothing worth noticing? An annoying obstruction? A monument to American ingenuity? Maybe what you ought to see is a sign of America’s deep-lying racism, proof that even the most humdrum and seemingly benign marvel of engineering from America’s Age of Invention is tainted by our history of deadly racial hatred. You don’t see murderous racism when you look at telephone poles? You must not have been to college lately.
At a moment when we’re wracked by quarrels over the Common Core and changes to the AP U.S. History course, the most instructive education controversy of all may be the one outlined in the National Association of Scholars’ (NAS) just-released report: “Beach Books: 2013-2014.”
Don’t let the title fool you. Beach books are important. They’re the books many colleges now require their freshmen to read during the summer before they enter school. These “common readings” may be the most revealing and accessible signs we have of what today’s colleges are trying to teach their students. And the reading choices made by our colleges validate just about every warning offered by critics of the Common Core and of the revised AP U.S. History framework. By the time our children finish dragging themselves through our new, ultra-politicized K-12 system, they should be just about ready to see racist telephone poles everywhere.
We’ll get to telephone poles, the Common Core, and AP U.S. History shortly. First, let’s have a look at the key findings of the NAS Beach Books report.
Surprise! The books colleges want their freshmen to read are dumbed-down tracts of leftist political indoctrination. In the polite language of the NAS report, “the list of readings [is] dominated by recent, trendy, and intellectually unchallenging books” which “frequently emphasize progressive political themes.” Classics are intentionally avoided, as is fiction. More than half the books were published in 2000 or later, many in the same year they were assigned. There is now a virtual industry dedicated to pushing trendy, politicized common readings on colleges, author tours included.
Why dumb down the books? Simple: virginity. Many college freshmen are what the NAS report calls “book virgins.” When the report’s lead author, Ashley Thorne, pressed the administrators of college common reading programs to explain why their assignments were so unchallenging, she was told that many incoming freshman “had never read a whole book before.” The NAS report hastens to explain: “presumably they mean that some of their students have never read a book for pleasure, as opposed to reading one assigned for class.” I’m less sure than the NAS that freshman “book virgins” were at least deflowered while doing homework, if not during their leisure hours.
Says the NAS: “That students are being admitted to college without ever having read a book is a striking revelation about the state of admissions. It is evidence that students are unprepared for college—or that colleges are setting the bar too low.” Well, yes. But it’s equally striking that courtesy of the Common Core, high schools are responding to the spreading crisis of book virginity by aggravating it.
Common Core replaces many of the full-length classic novels state-level K-12 education standards once favored with brief selections instead. Common Core also tends to substitute short, non-fiction “informational texts” for literature. Critics of the Common Core worry that replacing classic novels with brief bits of non-fiction not only dumbs down the curriculum, but opens the way to its thoroughgoing politicization.
The NAS Beach Books report shows these fears to be entirely justified. A learning environment stripped of literary richness and reduced to preachy leftism already exists in campus common reading programs. Instead of fighting it, Common Core simply carries this unfortunate trend into our high schools.  Common Core is supposed to turn out “college ready” students. Since preserving your book-virginity throughout high school is excellent preparation for the trendy memoirs and graphic novels many colleges now assign their inexperienced freshmen, I guess Common Core works. When it comes to reading books in their entirety, Common Core supporters would appear to endorse a form of abstinence education.
I explored the politicization of college common reading programs last year in, “Obama’s Secret Weapon: Henrietta Lacks.” Rebecca Skloot’s 2010 best-selling medical mystery story from the Jim Crow South, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, utters not a word about Obamacare, yet lends itself perfectly to propagandizing for the president’s signature policy initiative. Skloot’s book was the most popular college common reading assignment again in 2013-2014, for the third year running.
Another widely used assignment, David Eggers’ 2009 book Zeitoun, is an ideally-honed instrument for Bush-bashing. The book’s eponymous hero, Abdulrahman Zeitoun is an Arab-American who heroically canoed through post-Katrina New Orleans, offering help to people and animals alike. Falsely taken for a terrorist at the height of the Bush War on Terror, Zeitoun’s tale becomes, in the words of The New York Times, “a more powerful indictment of America’s dystopia in the Bush era than any number of well-written polemics.” Here is the key to college common reading assignments. They are roundabout enough to deflect charges of politicization, yet thoroughly political nonetheless.
Zeitoun’s popularity as a common reading assignment declined precipitously in 2012, perhaps because Zeitoun was divorced by his Muslim-convert wife after his Islamic views turned more “radical” and he was convicted of assaulting her, as well as jailed on charges of plotting her murder.  The Beach Books report features this and several other fascinating cases of common reading assignments exposed as potential frauds or otherwise discredited post-publication.  Thus are the hazards of abandoning the classics for trendy politics.
Which returns us to racist telephone poles. Having already discussed a couple of the most widely-assigned books, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks andZeitoun, I decided to look at a book from what is by far the most popular common-reading subject category: multiculturalism/immigration/racism. That led me to Eula Biss’s collection, Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays, a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. Assigned at a couple of the more selective colleges covered by the NAS Beach Books report (American University and Washington University in St. Louis) Biss’s book features arresting writing and relentlessly leftist politics. As with other common readings, while the politics are pervasive, they are conveyed in roundabout rather than overtly polemical fashion.
The standout essay at the head of the book, “Time and distance overcome,” is about telephone poles.  (You can read it here.) What begins as an homage to Alexander Graham Bell’s energy and vision quickly devolves into a tale of the hazards of private property and the depths of America’s racism. We learn from Biss of the many instances in which black men were lynched from telephone poles. Unable to recover her innocent delight at the beauty and wonder of gracefully arced telephone wires glinting in the sun, Biss can only hope for a collective apology by Americans for our deeply racist history.
Should you object that the lynchings have ended while the technological wonder has endured, Biss spends the rest of the book uncovering the allegedly pervasive racism of our time and apologizing for it. What we take to be the central events of our day—economic fluctuations, war in the Middle East, the latest technological breakthrough, etc.—seem more like a fantasy-world to Biss, for whom the hidden racism she detects everywhere is the surest, hardest reality.
Biss wasn’t on the committee that crafted the radically revised AP U.S. History framework, but she might as well have been. Her determination to treat pride in America’s technological, economic, and democratic achievement as na├»ve, to turn racism into a master theme, and to cultivate an attitude of unending contrition, perfectly captures the sensibility behind the College Board’s history curriculumchanges.
Although Biss comes at her subjects indirectly, through personal reminiscence and reflection, her essays are filled with slams against conservative politicians and writers. What business do American University and Washington University, St. Louis have assigning to all their incoming students what is in effect a leftist political tract? These seemingly innocent “beach readings” are far more significant and potentially problematic than ordinary course readings because they are statements about the expectations of colleges and universities as a whole.
Liberal education demands neutrality on the part of institutions of higher learning as an essential precondition of the intellectual freedom of both students and teachers. When a university endorses a particular political perspective, it effectively censures members of its community who do not agree. This inhibits free inquiry and free expression alike.
With Biss’s book, the message seems to go further than merely, “conservatives keep out.” Receiving Biss as an assignment from the college itself says that you need to become a leftist, not just on policy, but down to the innermost depths of your soul—until racism is all that seems real to you, until you can’t even look at a telephone pole without wanting to apologize for America.
The dumbing-down and left-politicization of American education continues apace.  The story is largely the same at every level, yet nowhere are the outcome and its dilemmas more clearly or disturbingly revealed than in a report on the innocent-looking innovation of college freshman “beach books.”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

5 lies that have shaped the Obama presidency

5 lies that have shaped the Obama presidency
By Jack Cashill

If past presidents are remembered for their signature achievements, Obama will be remembered for his signature lie: “If you like your health care plan, blah, blah, blah.” The reader knows the rest. Although the most consequential of Obama’s lies — it got him re-elected — it’s far from his only prevarication.
I’ve counted 75 significant lies since his campaign for president began, but that doesn’t begin to tally the casual fibs and hyperbole he spouts seemingly every day. Here are five that illustrate just how much Obama’s presidency is built on falsehoods.

5. “My father left my family when I was 2 years old.”
Obama made this claim in September 2009, when addressing the nation’s schoolkids. By then, the blogosphere knew that baby Obama had never spent a night under the same roof as his father, let alone two years.
For years, Obama and his advisers invested enormous political capital in what biographer David Remnick called Obama’s “signature appeal: the use of the details of his own life as a reflection of a kind of multicultural ideal.”
Remnick called Obama’s autobiography “a mixture of verifiable fact, recollection, recreation, invention and artful shaping.” In other words, the truth is never good enough.

4. “The Fast and Furious program was a field-initiated program begun under the previous administration.”
Obama spun this fiction at a September 2012 Univision forum knowing it was false. In fact, the bizarre, deadly idea to let American guns “walk” into Mexico, where they were used by drug cartels to kill dozens, began in October 2009.
Three months earlier, White House press secretary Jay Carney had made the same bogus claim virtually word for word at a press conference and got shot down on national TV. “It began in fall 2009,” corrected White House correspondent Jake Tapper, then with ABC.
Carney refused to acknowledge he lied, and the president continued to lie weeks later. It’s all part of Obama’s ducking of responsibility — it’s always someone else’s fault.

3. “Not even a smidgen of corruption.”
Obama said this in response to Bill O’Reilly’s question about the IRS scandal: “You’re saying no corruption?”
If there were not even a “smidgen of corruption,” as Obama insisted, it is hard to understand what outraged him, or at least seemed to, when news of the IRS scandal first broke. “It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it,” Obama said in May 2013. Obama routinely expressed anger when some new scandal erupted on his watch — IRS, the failed ObamaCare website, the VA scandal, Fast and Furious — but never before had he shoved a scandal down the memory hole so quickly.
And how could Obama know there wasn’t a smidgen of corruption before the investigation was even over? Perhaps because the administration knew that any proof of that was gone with deleted emails and destroyed hard drives?

2. “We revealed to the American people exactly what we understood at the time.”
During that same Super Bowl Sunday interview, Obama made this claim in response to O’Reilly’s inquiry about the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. Obama continued to dissemble: “The notion that we would hide the ball for political purposes when a week later we all said, in fact, there was a terrorist attack taking place and the day after I said it was an act of terror, that wouldn’t be a very good coverup.”
In fact, it was exactly a week after the attack, on Sept. 18, that Obama took his first questions about Benghazi. Bizarrely, he did so to David Letterman. “Here’s what happened,” Obama said.
“You had a video that was released by somebody who lives here, sort of a shadowy character who — who made an extremely offensive video directed at — at Mohammed and Islam.”
We know now that the administration knew this wasn’t true. Not a week later; not even the very night of the attacks.
On many levels, this was Obama’s most telling lie. He only deals with the world as he sees it, not as it is.

1. “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
Obama told this whopper to his assembled staff on his first day in office. He promised it to the press. Instead, his administration refuses to hand over documents and Obama refuses to answer questions. As liberal constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley assessed the presidency, “Barack Obama is really the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be.”
What do these lies, just a sample of many, tell us? Obama never stopped “artfully shaping” his life.
The scary thing is he might actually believe these lies. He believes that posting a shot from his personal photographer online is “transparent.” That targeting conservative groups for audits isn’t corrupt. That everything that has gone wrong with his presidency is Bush’s fault.
Knowing that, how can we believe anything that he says?
Jack Cashill is the author of “You Lie! The Evasions, Omissions, Fabrications, Frauds and Outright Falsehoods of Barack Obama” (Broadside Books), out Oct. 7.

Ebola burden on U.S. hospital system warrants tighter travel restrictions

Ebola burden on U.S. hospital system warrants tighter travel restrictions

Among the arguments in favor of stricter travel restrictions on West Africans wishing to come to the United States without first spending 21 days outside of "the hot zone" are the extraordinary costs that would be born by U.S. hospitals by any significant number of Ebola cases.
Most pundits can guess that the costs are high, but I asked one of my law partners, Lowell C. Brown, to give me some insight into what hospitals are bracing for. Lowell has been representing some of the largest, most sophisticated healthcare systems and health networks for three decades.
"I've been advising hospitals about regulatory compliance for nearly 30 years and this is a potential public health crisis unlike any I've seen," he emailed in response to my basic question of what the already stressed hospital system is facing. "It far outstrips the HIV epidemic of the late 1980s because Ebola is much more contagious than HIV."
What he told me next was a surprise.
"So how does the regulatory framework respond to emergencies?" Lowell wrote. "Generally, legal and regulatory restrictions on healthcare providers are relaxed. Local example: After the Northridge earthquake in 1994, healthcare regulators were not paying much attention to the protocols usually required in hospital emergency rooms. If a patient needed to have a laceration stitched up and only a physician's assistant was available, that's who did the stitching."
That won't be the case this time. In fact, Lowell is already deep into consultation with our Occupational Safety and Health Administration experts. Hospitals owe their employees duties. Those that aren't thinking through that duty are exposing themselves to huge liability.
"Ebola's contagious nature is different," Lowell noted, "so the regulators can't simply look the other way while providers freelance. Hospitals and their care teams will need guidance, and the government will need issue it quickly while remaining flexible as the situation on the ground changes. Unfortunately speed and flexibility are not typical characteristics of government healthcare regulators. This will be a major challenge for everyone."
Then came the economics:
"Apart from the pure regulatory challenges, Ebola care is inherently expensive. It is the equivalent of ICU care until the patient is no longer contagious or is shedding the virus, for an average of 8 days. That's a long ICU stay and if the numbers of sick patients increases, facilities may be overwhelmed."
"With that in mind," he continued, "if this becomes an epidemic situation, specialty hospitals may be necessary. As matters stand only 1 in 4 American hospitals have the staff and infrastructure necessary to provide the isolation care Ebola requires."
The required protective wear is expensive, he noted. Stocks for companies making this gear may well be great buys at this point, but healthcare stocks...not so much.
Lowell's closing admonition was that every government agency had to begin planning immediately against a low probability/enormously high risk event. So too must every hospital, clinic and especially the major health centers, which will almost automatically be called upon to assume the lead should the crisis widen.
The World Health Organization said there was a possibility of 10,000 cases per week come December. We have to assume at least a handful of those will reach our shores. Transit restrictions will reduce the marginal risk, but not eliminate it. Get serious, fast, Mr. President. Like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Ebola isn't the jayvee team.
Tightening travel restrictions — not a ban, but common sense restrictions — is the most obvious of first steps. When will the president or "Ebola Czar" Ron Klain take it?
Hugh Hewitt is a nationally syndicated talk radio host, law professor at Chapman University's Fowler School of Law, and author, most recently of The Happiest Life. He posts daily and is on Twitter @hughhewitt.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Stimulus bill enabled billions in waste, exploitation of employees

Stimulus bill enabled billions in waste, exploitation of employees


When Barack Obama and the Democrats on Capitol Hill forced the $800 billion stimulus bill into law, they insisted that waste, fraud, and abuse would not be tolerated. They put “Sheriff” Joe Biden on the case in March 2009, with Obama warning stimulus recipients that “around the White House, we call him the Sheriff — because if you’re misusing taxpayer money, you’ll have to answer to him.” The Department of Transportation employees gathered for the speech laughed at that statement, according to the White House transcript — and well they should have. An in-depth report from McClatchy and ProPublica shows that the ARRA lost billions of dollars to employment fraud, and that government agencies collaborated in the effort rather than crack down on it:
The largest government infusion of cash into the U.S. economy in generations – the 2009 stimulus – was riddled with a massive labor scheme that harmed workers and cheated unsuspecting American taxpayers.
At the time, government regulators watched as money slipped out the door and into the hands of companies that rob state and federal treasuries of billions of dollars each year on stimulus projects and other construction jobs across the country, a yearlong McClatchy investigation found.
A review of public records in 28 states uncovered widespread cheating by construction companies that listed workers as contractors instead of employees in order to beat competitors and cut costs. The federal government, while cracking down on the practice in private industry, let it happen in stimulus projects in the rush to pump money into the economy at a time of crisis.
Companies across the country avoided state and federal taxes and undercut law-abiding competitors. They exploited workers desperate for jobs, depriving them of unemployment benefits and often workers’ compensation insurance.
Exactly how much tax revenue was forfeited on stimulus projects isn’t clear. This is: The government enabled businesses bent on breaking the rules. Regulators squandered the chance to right a rogue industry by forcing companies’ hands on government jobs.
And guess what? The fraud continues to this day. It’s not that the government is unaware of the problem; they regularly force private businesses to comply with employment law when it comes to restaurants and nail salons, McClatchy notes. When it comes to contractors working on ARRA-related jobs, they suddenly develop very convenient blind spots.
Guess who else it impacts? Unions, which normally would represent employees:
“So we the taxpayers are paying the tax cheaters who are exploiting their workers and stealing work from law-abiding employers?” said Matt Capece, a lawyer with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, after reviewing payroll records collected by McClatchy.
“No wonder the bad guys are running roughshod over the industry,” he said.
Yes, the “bad guys” — from the government, here to “help” as always. Well, help themselves, anyway. These contractors who misclassified employees as contractors got away without paying workers comp and tax withholding, the latter of which is especially ironic. Obama and the Democrats insisted that the $800 billion in the ARRA would promote hiring and increase tax revenues, but as this report shows, in many cases it did neither.
Oh, don’t forget that the Department of Labor spent $80 million of that stimulus money to protect workers, while HUD apparently couldn’t have cared less:
Of all 1,278 investigations that Labor Department wage and hour officials opened for stimulus projects from 2010 to 2013, investigators found wage and hour violations 62 percent of the time.
Not eight blocks away, their counterparts at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development distributed stimulus money to thousands of companies to build housing for the poor. Only a few of these projects had federal labor inspectors checking behind the local officials HUD trained to spot wage violations.
Be sure to read it all, and then re-read the Boss Emeritus’ column from nearly two years ago on the same topic:
Sheriff Joe rebuked the “naysayers” who decried the behemoth stimulus program’s waste, fraud and abuse. “You know what? They were wrong,” he crowed.
But Biden was radio silent about the nearly 4,000 stimulus recipients who received $24 billion in Recovery Act funds — while owing more than $750 million in unpaid corporate, payroll and other taxes. (Cash for Tax Cheats, anyone?)
He had nothing to say about the $6 billion in stimulus energy credits for homeowners that went to nearly a third of credit-claimers who had no record of homeownership, including minors and prisoners.
And the $530 million dumped into the profligate Detroit public schoolsfor laptops and other computer equipment that have had little, if any, measurable academic benefits.
And the whopping $6.7 million cost per job under the $50 billion stimulus-funded green energy loan program — which funded politically connected but now bankrupt solar firms Solyndra ($535 million), Abound Solar ($400 million),Beacon Power ($43 million), A123 ($250 million) and Ener1 ($119 million).
And the $1 million in stimulus cash that went to Big Bird and Sesame Street “to promote healthy eating,” which created a theoretical “1.47″ jobs. (As Sean Higgins of The Examiner noted, “(T)hat comes out to about $726,000 per job created.”)
And the hundreds of millions in stimulus money steered to General Services Administrations junkets in Las Vegas and Hawaii, ghost congressional districts, dead people, infrastructure to nowhere and ubiquitous stimulus propaganda road signs stamped with the shovel-ready logo.
Kudos to McClatchy and ProPublica for this expose’ now, but … where was the media two years ago when voters could have used this information?

Indoctrination by Grievance-Mongers

Indoctrination by Grievance-Mongers 
Anti-American educational elites need a dose of reality. 



Goddard College’s recent decision to have its students addressed from prison by a convicted cop killer is just one of many unbelievably irresponsible self-indulgences by “educators” in our schools and colleges.
Such “educators” teach minorities born with an incredibly valuable windfall gain — American citizenship — that they are victims who have a grievance against people today who have done nothing to them, because of what other people did in other times. If those individuals who feel aggrieved could sell their American citizenship to eager buyers from around the world and leave, everybody would probably be better off. Those who leave would get not only a substantial sum of money — probably $100,000 or more — they would also get a valuable dose of reality elsewhere.
Nothing is easier than to prove that America, or any other society of human beings, is far from being the perfect gem that any of us can conjure up in our imagination. But, when you look around the world today or look back through history, you can get a very painfully sobering sense of what a challenge it can be in the real world to maintain even common decency among human beings.
Living just one year in the Middle East would be an education in reality that could obliterate years of indoctrination in grievances that passes for education in too many of our schools, colleges, and universities. You could go on to get a postgraduate education in reality in some place like North Korea.
If you prefer to get your education in the comfort of a library, rather than in person amid the horrors, you might study the history of the sadistic massacres of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire or the heart-wrenching story of Stalin’s man-made 1930s famine in the Soviet Union that killed as many millions of people as Hitler’s Holocaust did in the 1940s.
Mao’s man-made famine in China killed more people than the Soviet famine and the Nazi Holocaust combined. And we should not deny their rightful place in history’s chamber of horrors to the 1970s Cambodian dehumanization and slaughters that killed off at least a quarter of the entire population of that country.
What about slavery? Slavery certainly has its place among the horrors of humanity. But our “educators” today, along with the media, present a highly edited segment of the history of slavery. Those who have been through our schools and colleges, or who have seen our movies or television miniseries, may well come away thinking that slavery means white people enslaving black people. But slavery was a worldwide curse for thousands of years, as far back as recorded history goes.
Over all that expanse of time and space, it is very unlikely that most slaves, or most slave owners, were either black or white. Slavery was common among the vast populations in Asia. Slavery was also common among the Polynesians, and the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere enslaved other indigenous peoples before anyone on this side of the Atlantic had ever seen a European.
More whites were brought as slaves to North Africa than blacks brought as slaves to the United States or to the 13 colonies from which it was formed. White slaves were still being bought and sold in the Ottoman Empire, decades after blacks were freed in the United States.
What does all this mean?
In addition to the chilling picture that it paints of human nature, it means that Americans today — all Americans — are among the luckiest people who have ever inhabited this planet. Most Americans living in officially defined poverty today have such things as central air-conditioning, cable television, a microwave oven and a motor vehicle.
A scholar who spent years studying Latin America said that what is defined as poverty in the United States today is upper middle class in Mexico.
Do we still need to do better? Yes! Human beings all over the world are not even close to running out of room for improvement.
There is so much knowledge and skills that need to be transmitted to the young that turning schools and colleges into indoctrination centers is a major and reckless disservice to them and to American society, which is vulnerable as all human societies have always been, especially those that are decent.
— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His website is © 2014 Creators Syndicate Inc.

What the Left Can’t Admit about the Politics of Ebola

What the Left Can’t Admit about the Politics of Ebola 
The threat of Ebola maybe be hyped, but the threat of government incompetence is real. 
President Obama and HHS secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell discuss the Ebola crisis (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In the closing stages of this year’s insipid, undistinguished midterm elections, Republicans are making hay while the disaster shines. In Washington, D.C., Speaker of the House John Boehner has taken to prodding President Obama for his refusal to institute a “ban on travel to the United States from countries afflicted with the [Ebola] virus,” a message that has been picked up elsewhere by Senate candidates Joni Ernst, Mike Rounds, Thom Tillis, and David Perdue. In New Hampshire, senatorial candidate Scott Brown has been asking aloud whether the “porous” southern border represents a potential medical threat. Fox News, meanwhile, has run the debate on a loop.
The agitation has provoked an exasperated reaction in the more cynically partisan quarters of the left-leaning media. “Republicans Want You to Be Terrified of Ebola—So You’ll Vote for Them,” exclaimed The New Republic’s Brian Beutleryesterday, while, in the New York Times, Jeremy Peters grumbled that “playing off feelings of anxiety is a powerful strategy for motivating the Republican base.” At the Washington Post, the ever-reliable Greg Sargent cast the move as just one part of the GOP’s dastardly “fear-based midterm strategy.” Thus did a trio that has of late panicked publicly about the supposed return of Jim Crow, the impending end of the world, and an approaching government shutdown accuse their ideological opponents of unwarranted fear-mongering.
Whether or not Ebola constitutes a real enough threat to the United States to justify the Republican party’s stance remains to be seen. Politics being politics, it is entirely possible that the GOP has observed a certain anxiety in the public and jumped on it for electoral profit. Nevertheless, rather than rolling their eyes, progressives might take a moment to inquire as to exactly why the charge is landing. Is it that Republicans are uniquely predisposed to hysteria, and that their representatives are uniquely cynical? Or is it that disquieted voters, already skeptical of the potency of the state, have of late been given few reasons to amend their suspicion. The question of what sort of risk Ebola presents aside, fretting about the federal government’s capacity to handle basic tasks seems to me to be a reasonable reaction to its record so far. Is nobody interested in this question?
Evidently, they are not. Old habits dying hard, President Obama’s former press secretary, Robert Gibbs, has complained rather glibly that “Republicans want people to turn on the television and see that nothing is working.” I daresay that, in a narrow sense at least, Gibbs is right. We are, after all, approaching an important election, and the more bad press that the president gets, the better it is for his opponents. But, inherent to Gibbs’s charge, was the implication that the widespread perception of presidential incompetence is axiomatically false. Such presumptions are widespread. Having run rather convincingly through the brief against the White House — listing among its recent mistakes the rollout ofObamacare, the failure to predict the rise of the Islamic State, scandals involving the IRS, the NSA, the Secret Service, and the Veterans Affairs, and the “child migrant crisis” on the southern border — Brian Beutler proposed rather curiously that certain “members of the media are enabling” the Right in its characterization of the Obama administration as the “gang that can’t shoot straight.” Instead,Beutler urged, “they should be anathematizing it.”
Really, one has to ask, “Why”? It is one thing to argue that the Republican party and the fourth estate are hyping non-stories, but quite another to present a list of genuinely abject failures and then to recommend to the press that it keep quiet about them. Might we not take Occam’s Razor to the matter and conclude simply that a good number of people really are nervous that the government can’t do anything right? Further, might we not take a moment to reflect why it is that so many people have no faith in Washington, D.C.? Perhaps the state really isterrible at reacting to crises — not just under Obama, but under other presidents, too. Perhaps, having watched the most domestically ambitious administration in half a century flail and collapse in ignominy, many Americans are a touch more aporetic today than they were back in 2008?
The distaste of the Beutlers, Sargents, and Gibbses of the world is, in some part, the product of rank partisanship. But it is also the result of the specific challenge that Democratic incompetence poses to those who wish the state to be an effective and pervasive force in our national life. When Republicans are in office, progressives are able to attribute the failures of the state to any number of perfidious forces: a lack of care by those in charge; inadequate interest in helping the afflicted; a deep-seated hostility to government that, inevitably, renders it ineffective; the inherent ineptitude of those outside of the chosen class; the presumably malevolent influence of big business; deliberate, ideologically driven underfunding; etc., etc. In the wake of conservative mistakes, moreover, reformers on the left are accorded the opportunity to promise that Democrats — by virtue of being the natural party of the state — will be able do better. When such a Democrat fails to do so, however, their champions are faced with a genuine problem. Presumably, their guy can’t be evil or indifferent or corrupt. What happened?
In these instances, progressives have three choices: 1) They can deem their party’s leader to be uniquely incompetent; 2) They can charge that his opponents are guilty of sabotage (the Obamacare rollout provided a stellar example of this); or 3) They can accuse the media of whipping up critical sentiment. At no point, however, can it be conceded that government itself might perhaps be to blame, nor can it be acknowledged that, when the state intrudes in areas in which it cannot hope to do well, it invariably hurts the public’s faith in its more traditional functions. To admit as much would be to concede that there are real limits on what public officials can effectively achieve — an admission that is unlikely to be forthcoming.
Thus far, the criticisms that the Right has leveled at the president for his response to the Ebola outbreak have varied wildly in nature, ranging from the downright preposterous to the eminently reasonable. Accepting that elections are unalterably dirty and meretricious affairs, I must say I cannot convince myself to become toovexed by the more hyperbolic reactions. Politics, as a famous man once said, “ain’t beanbag,” even when deadly diseases are involved. Either way, however, it remains the case that hype thrives most keenly in a vacuum, panics being inflated, not diminished, by the absence of leadership and the dearth of faith. Once upon a time, President Obama was largely taken at his word, his assiduously cultivated reputation as a calm and detached man of competence having gained a purchase in the national psyche. Now, six years after he stood before the Greek columns and the adoring fans, he has been largely reduced to a Walter Mitty figure, whose quixotic ambition and messianic demeanor have stretched the credulity of the electorate to its breaking point. Today we are told that a good portion of the country doesn’t believe that the federal government will deal proficiently with an unpredictable threat. Well, where on Earth could they have got that idea?
— Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer at National Review.