Leftists don’t really do Memorial Day. It just isn’t anything they are interested in. As people who prefer peace, the idea of glorifying soldiers, even if they were just powerless joes at the bottom who got drafted, sticks in their craw.
But one would at least expect them to remember their own dead. One would expect them to have some kind of day of remembrance for leftists killed by non-leftists, yet there is no such day. Such a day would have to include the many tens of thousands of leftists killed in Iran by Muslims when the Shah was evicted. Despite these murders, the left has no problem with Muslims, and in particular it has no problem with the current Iranian regime, even though it began its existence with those killings.
Two points. First, if you are a young leftist, it would behoove you to think about leftist values. If they don’t even value what these people were trying to do in Iran, if they aren’t even willing to remember their own ideological kin, then why bother being a leftist? That is, the first precept of any group should be to protect its own, but the left isn’t willing to do that. So, young leftists, prove to me that I’m wrong. Find me an article somewhere by someone praising Obama’s policy on Iran who is also willing to mention those murdered leftists. I may even pay you for it, though I’m betting you won’t find such an article and so it won’t cost me anything.
Soccer, FIFA, and the American Left
As I argued in my book on soccer – look at my books over on the right side of this blog – the American left has never been a friend of soccer, so it should come as no surprise that a strongly left-leaning administration would demand extradition of some of international soccer’s officials. It is one thing for the U.S. to have lent to others its expertise in an international investigation, but it is quite another to demand extradition of these guys. I mean to whatever extent they broke laws here – and so far I haven’t heard what they did that involves the U.S. – they must also have broken laws in Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, etc. Why aren’t they the ones demanding extradition? Isn’t it arrogant of us to demand that we get to do the trial, involving a sport that most Americans don’t even care about? Won’t those Americans who hate soccer be riled at the expense involved? And are Americans the biggest victims here? Just after writing these words, an article has appeared saying that Putin feels the same way (here). He thinks it is odd that U.S. officials are involved in a case “for crimes which do not involve its citizens and did not happen in the United States.” The article suggests what other sources haven’t, that U.S. banks were involved, but even so, why do we care at all? Shouldn’t other countries be the ones leading this investigation? Even if our banks were involved, doesn't that merely show the power of our banks and not the reason why we need to be involved?
Demanding extradition for these officials shows the true colors of the American left. It thinks it gets to rule the world, even concerning a sport that it doesn’t care about.
Wait a minute. What is really going on seems to be Obama’s wounded pride: the failed attempt to have America host the 2022 World Cup happened on his watch. Now it all makes sense.
Note to Readers
I would write about more topics, but I am traveling and don’t really have time to do justice to the topics I did write about. I’ll be back home next week.
According to this report, there is now an actual discipline called Islamophobia Studies. A more relevant one would concern itself with dhimmitude, the condition in which non-Muslims give in to every demand by the Islamists and are in denial about Islamist atrocities. The concept of dhimmitude is based on an Arabic word, and as someone who has studied Arabic, I pronounce the dh the way I pronounce the th in the word “the,” though I am not sure that others pronounce it that way. Anyway, academia is filled with dhimmis these days, so it is very doubtful that Dhimmitude Studies would ever be accepted as a discipline the way that Islamophobia Studies has been.
As a soccer fan, I suppose I ought to be blogging about the kerfuffle concerning Israel and soccer (especially since I’ve actually been to soccer games in Israel). This kind of thing bubbles up every now and then. Back in the 1980s, I think, the Asian division of FIFA (the international soccer organization) ejected Israel, and so the European division (UEFA) took them in. It seemed a bit strange at the time since Israel is not part of Europe, but now UEFA includes countries like Armenia, Azerbaijan, and even Kazakhstan, all of which seem like they ought to be in the Asian division. Anyway, there is now some spot of bother about Israel and the Palestinians, and I’m not even going to bother trying to figure it out. I think they want to eject Israel permanently from FIFA, which would make them ineligible for the World Cup. Since Israel hasn’t qualified in years, or maybe ever, I don’t know that this is going to hurt them a lot. The people it is going to hurt are those Israeli Arabs who play for Israel (though no doubt they can get some kind of special release to play for Palestine, which hasn’t impressed anyone internationally, either). Anyway, Israel could then join that World Cup of the “Other.” I don’t think that’s what they call it, but it’s for all the states that aren’t states, like Kurdistan and Northern Cyprus. They might be able to win that competition.
More on Analytic Philosophy and Identity Politics
I’ve been suggesting for some time (here, here, and here) that had people in analytic philosophy decided to engage with issues of racism, sexism, and so on, they would have been more sensible about it than other people have been. See here for an actual article along these lines whose link Keith Burgess-Jackson sent to me. It does a great job of arguing that the idea that only blacks can teach about blacks is ridiculous.
Racism versus Culturism
Along the same lines, here is an article about how non-white immigrants in Holland don’t like the way that white students are abandoning the schools they go to. Naturally, these whites (or their parents) are called racist. And this is another example of what happens when people who aren’t in analytic philosophy deal with concepts like racism. They keep expanding the concept to encompass just about everything a white person says or does. In fact, though, nothing in the article suggested that these people were racist. Instead, what was suggested was that they were “culturist” (or maybe "culturalist"), which means that they view their own culture as superior to that of others. Leftists argue that this is tantamount to racism, which is why they don’t bother with the word “culturism” and simply call them racists. But just because they hold such a belief, that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to follow in their footsteps. There are obvious problems with identifying the two concepts. What about the white person who has no trouble with the skin color of other people, so long as they accept his culture? Surely such a person should be distinguished from people who do have a problem with others’ skin color. And it seems to tie a person to a culture even when they don’t want to be tied to it.
Progressives and Academic Culture
Progressives dominate in academia these days, but it seems strange that their major battles don’t ever involve the structure of academia. It is always about identity politics. This post (hat tip: Mark Spahn) tells about the horrors of being on a postdoctoral fellowship as one moves up the ladder to being a full-fledged scientist (except that lots of people don’t ever get there). Obviously, this system needs drastic reform. The people are poorly paid (though they are paid better than adjuncts in the humanities), they don’t get benefits, they may not get unemployment if they get fired, they might not get credit for the brilliant work they do, and so on. Back when I was young, leftists wanted to reform everything in sight, but that spirit no longer seems to be part of the leftist milieu. Instead, they get into silly crusades about the rape culture on campus, or why certain people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali should never be invited to speak, or why diversity is so important. Where are the Social Justice Warriors when it comes to reforming the system?
Argentina Demands That Cuba Repay Its Loan
I read an article recently that said that Argentina wants Cuba to repay a loan that Argentina made to them a number of years ago. What is funny about this is that Argentina itself balks at paying back loans they received from others. Consistency has never been a virtue for leftists, apparently. It reminds me of the situation a number of years ago when Bolivia nationalized their oil industry. Maybe they thought they were sticking it to capitalists, but the fact is that some of the owners of their oil industry included the already nationalized oil industries of Spain and Brazil. Heh.
The Rich Get Richer: University Endowment Edition
The rich get richer when it comes to university endowments, as this article shows. Harvard lost $10 billion in the recession back in 2008, but it has more than made back that loss. Do all those leftists demanding a redistribution from the rich to the poor have this in mind? No, of course not. Take a look at the progressive contract that Bill de Blasio and others drafted (here). There is nothing in it that talks about taking money from rich universities, though two of the four proposals for making the rich pay more in taxes are directed at companies. Keep in mind that these rich universities generally cater to rich students, too:
And while many of the wealthiest colleges offer need-based scholarships for their poorest students, they enroll a relatively small percentage of low-income students compared to their less wealthy peers.
Why is there nary a peep from leftists about this? It seems to be people on the right who are complaining. Apparently, Social Darwinism has taken over the left: if you can’t get admitted to these elite schools, then you deserve to be at the bottom.
Asians and Harvard
Well, at least one group is fighting against the automatic assumption that anyone who can’t get into Harvard deserves to be at the bottom. A bunch of Asian-American groups are now suing Harvard because they believe that they are being discriminated against, just as Harvard and other places discriminated against Jews a number of decades ago. And I say to them, Go for it. If you work hard and get top grades, then places like Harvard should be screaming for you.
Warren Buffett has an editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal on how to help the poor. To his credit, he doesn’t whine about how taxes on the rich should be raised. He also disapproves of a hike in the minimum wage. Those are the good points. One of the bad points is that he suggests that we use the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to help the poor. This idea has some big problems in terms of the percentage of poor people who will be helped, but first let me note that he says it needs to have a “major and carefully crafted expansion.” What sort of expansion is he talking about? Based on what he says after that, it means that (1) penalties for fraud should be stiffened, (2) there should be more publicity to low-income filers so that they can take advantage of the free help for filing, (3) annual payments should be changed to monthly payments, and (4) the dollar amounts should be increased. No doubt all this is helpful to those who will receive the payments, but it doesn’t get at the basic problem of EITC, which is that it doesn’t help all poor people.
The fact is that EITC is mostly for poor people who have children. If you are poor, but you don’t have children, you miss out. Take my hypothetical case that I’ve been using for some time now, namely a young waitress making $20,000 a year. If she has no children, then she misses out, because the cutoff point for individuals without children is about $14,000 a year, and even then the payment is small. Yet, making only $20,000 is clearly nothing to cheer about. It is barely scraping by. And this is why I say that reducing the lowest tax bracket will help more people in the bottom half than will the other proposals floating around for helping the poor. Currently our waitress pays (after deductions are figured) $1,028 in taxes, but with my proposal, she would pay only about $200. That gives her an extra $828, which is more than 4% of her income. Not bad. Buffett’s proposal would give her nothing.
Let me consider two other cases. Say the waitress was making only $15,000. She would then still be making too much for EITC, yet she is obviously making hardly anything. What is her tax? Her $15,000 in wages and tips reduces to $8,800 after the standard deduction is taken, and then to $4,850 after her single exemption is taken. The tax on $4,850 is $488, which is almost exactly 10% of her taxable income. Under my proposal, her tax would be not 10% but 2%, which would mean her tax would be only $97. That would give her nearly $400 extra each year. For people with income that low, an extra $400 can mean a lot.
Now as a last case, consider my niece who makes $34,000, but who lives in Washington, D.C., a very expensive city. She is forced to double up with a stranger because a one-bedroom apartment is too expensive for her. Yet, she pays $3,128 in taxes, which is actually a little over 13%, even though she is clearly in the bottom half. Under my proposal, she would pay a mere $477. The savings would go some way toward allowing her to actually be able to live reasonably well in that city (though see here; she would still need a few thousand more per year to manage it).
Maybe the best way to help the poor is to cut their costs, and having taxes at 2% rather than 10% is an easy way to do that. Oh, and another thing, dividends for the three cases I have considered do not get taxed. Isn’t it time we stopped taxing interest, too, at least for people in the bottom half? Yes, I know, interest rates are so low that it doesn't really matter if they get taxed or not, but since they are likely to be higher at some point in the future, we should get rid of taxes on them, at least for those in the bottom half.
That is the title of an opinion piece on the back pages of the latest Chronicle of Higher Education (here), except that it is formed as a declarative sentence and not a question. The reason why it will make the world a better place, the author insists, is that we Americans know almost nothing about the Middle East, which is an area we bomb, invade, and occupy. The unstated implication of learning Arabic is that if we were to learn Arabic, then we wouldn’t be doing these awful things.
This argument, if generalized, is breathtakingly bad. Does anyone who knows the least little bit about World War II think that Americans of that era who learned German or Japanese were going to come away from the experience thinking that our fight against those two nations was wrong? Of course not. Any American back then learning either of these languages likely learned them in order to better help fight our enemies and was unlikely to have decided that, gosh, the Nazis had some legitimate grievances against the British and the French, so we’d better not fight them, or that Mr. Roosevelt had been mean to the Japanese by depriving them of oil, so we’d better not fight them, either. Sheer nonsense.
Anyway, as someone who has actually taught Arabic (if only as a substitute), I have to say that I never thought I was making the world a better place. I never subjected the class to my opinions about events in the Middle East or why I had learned Arabic (which was to help fight the Islamofascists) because I was pretty sure they would not have been well-received. I was just teaching a language. And most of the students probably came to the language already knowing something about the Middle East, or else they were just taking something exotic for their language requirement and would drop it once that had been fulfilled.
If you really want to make the world a better place, what you want to do is to encourage all the different groups of the Middle East to respect each other. (Then there would be no need for Americans to bomb it, etc.) Encourage mutual tolerance. Alas, while this is something that might have been done rather easily when I was young, it would be much harder today. The reason is that the left encouraged certain groups to hold grievances and to hate other groups, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and viciousness that makes the emergence of groups like ISIS all too explicable.
Too bad. There was a window of opportunity there, and the left wasted it.
Incidentally, the author of the piece, Brian T. Edwards, cannot help but mention that “hate crimes against Muslims continue” with no mention of awful things that Muslims do to each other and to non-Muslims. Maybe if he were to learn about those awful things, he would gain a better understanding of the Middle East himself.
During my time in academia, I almost never had a problem with those working in staff positions. They were generally pleasant people, especially the department secretaries (as they were called then). So, I was quite surprised when I first met my wife, and she told me about the horrible secretaries she had to deal with as a grad student in art history. She told me, among other horror stories, that one undergraduate had received the wrong grade and had asked the teaching assistant to fill out a grade change slip for her. It was then delivered to these secretaries, who did nothing with it for months. The student kept going in and asking about it, and they ignored her pleas. She finally brought her father in, and that somehow did the trick. They finally acted on it. Incidentally, this occurred at just one institution, and the art history secretaries elsewhere were generally pleasant.
I was reminded of that when I read this account with an accompanying video of a university adviser at Kennesaw State University who accused a student of harassment merely because he was waiting in an advising office to see an adviser. Other students had complaints about the office, too. This seems typical of the atmosphere at our colleges and universities these days, except that it is similar to what my wife went through twenty-five years ago, which was long before things started to get bad. So, maybe this is just one of the awful bureaucrats who crop up now and then.
The Twin Cities, that is. This blog post from Instapundit tells about how some liberal group in the Twin Cities wants to get rid of "rich" enclaves and single-family homes for something more integrated. I’m betting that the people pushing this don’t themselves live in poor neighborhoods (unless they are trendy). But I’ve got a suggestion for them. Part of their program is about wealth redistribution, and part is about environmentalism. The best plan to help make the world a greener place is to get people out of cold places like Minnesota, where a lot of energy is required to keep people warm in the winter, and into places with milder climates. Why is it that I’ve never heard an environmentalist push for this?
According to this article, the most elite jobs in America discriminate on the basis of class background. What the article calls Elite Professional Services firms (presumably the most prestigious law firms and investment banks) prefer those with the right pedigree, although they claim they are meritocratic. This is basically a system that rewards those who went to the best schools, which basically means those who are rich. What about those who go to ordinary state universities?
“State schools,” as public universities are called in this competition [for jobs], would be considered a sign of “intellectual failure.”
Yup. That is what I ran into in academia, even though the people were all liberals and leftists.
What exactly is the left going to do in response to this elitism? Nothing, probably, because they have gotten sucked into it themselves. They prefer that Democratic presidential candidates come from the Ivies, for example. And when I complained about the elitism in academia, I found that no one on the left seemed too interested, even though that elitism favors the rich.
By the way, one of the commenters praises Clarence Thomas for hiring law clerks from non-Ivy schools. I checked this out and found this site that confirms it. Yes, Clarence Thomas, whom the left hates, is doing more to fight elitism than most leftists are.