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’Tis the Season for Political Correctness

By 12.17.15

Christmas will be different this year.

Oh, there still will be plenty of joy and merriment. The holiday lights will shine just as brightly and children will bubble with anticipation just as they have for generations. On the surface the season will look and feel about the same.

But there will be changes nonetheless, subtle and yet unmistakable. Some of the grand old traditions, customs, and icons of our most revered holiday season will look different in the age of political correctness.

Some say that this PC trend has smothered spontaneity, undermined creativity, and threatens our fundamental freedoms. They argue that in our zeal not to offend or hurt anyone else’s feelings, we risk never expressing our own. Others say it’s simply an effort to make our society more sensitive, tolerant, and respectful of others. They say it’s all part of the mellowing of America in which “kinder and gentler” has become a reality and hugging is de rigueur.

No matter which view is correct, the images of Christmas and the mythological magic it spins will look entirely different through the PC prism. Here’s a sampling of the spectrum of changes we may see.

Political Hay

Falsehoods and False Alarms

By 12.17.15

Why does Donald Trump repeat talking points that he knows are untrue? During Tuesday night’s debate, The Donald asserted that before 9/11, terrorists put their “friends, family, girlfriends” into planes, and “they were sent back — for the most part to Saudi Arabia. They knew what was going on. They went home, and they wanted to watch their boyfriends on television.”

Trump made similar claims — but that the 9/11 terrorists sent back their wives — earlier this month. Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler shredded the claim. Only two of the terrorists were married, Kessler reported, and neither wife had been in the United States. The German girlfriend of one terrorist visited America, but she flew home months before the attack, of which she was unaware.

Anchors Aweigh

The Buoy and the Sci-Fi Destroyer

By 12.17.15

I guess $362 million doesn’t go as far as it used to. Last week the Navy’s newest ship, the USS Milwaukee, designated an advanced littoral combat ship, had to be towed into port for repairs.

It was not unheard of in the 1960s or 1970s for Navy reservists, manning their units’ World War II vintage destroyers, to pull out of port in high spirits on a Saturday morning, bands playing and flags flying, only to be towed back into port later the same day, their old sled having broken down before reaching deep water. But the Milwaukee had been at sea less than three weeks. Nothing on the ship is out of warranty.

The problem turned out to be metal filings in the ship’s lubrication system which caused “a complete loss of propulsion,” which is a polite and abstract way of saying we’ve just gone from being a ship to being an unsecured buoy (and if things don’t start getting better, perhaps a reef).

Campaign Crawlers

It’s Time to Winnow the Field

By 12.16.15

So it’s the week before Christmas, and CNN threw a Republican presidential debate at the Venetian in Las Vegas. And in a particularly giving holiday spirit, they included no less than nine GOP hopefuls on the main stage, relegating just four to the “kids’ table” affair in the pre-prime hours.

And with those nine candidates fighting for airtime, CNN’s event turned into the TV news version of the Bataan death march.

We’re midway through December and there are still 13 Republicans running for president. This fact was more than a little unexpected and it’s just not a good thing.

Until there can be a debate with no more than five or six major candidates with a chance to win, these affairs will be just like the one just completed — inconclusive and desperate food fights.

Another Perspective

Could Tax Cuts Cure Climate Change? A Surprising Left/Right Conversation

By 12.16.15

Editor’s Note: An ambitious but largely aspirational agreement comes to us, out of Paris, leaving wide open the question: how, exactly, should carbon reduction be accomplished, and how should that be financed?

Fortunately, a new, intriguing supply-side answer to both questions — Clean Tax Reform — comes to us out of a fascinating left/right conversation, co-hosted by Joan Blades, co-founder of MoveOn.og, and Rod Richardson, Director of the Grace Richardson Fund. What got our attention was not only the surprising insight that supply-side economics can be used to address climate change, but the further insight that climate change could be an opportunity to advance and demonstrate the power of supply side tax reform, whether we believe in climate change or not. We believe it is newsworthy, not just that a new supply side approach to climate change may now be suddenly relevant, but that progressives and conservatives seem willing to lean in to the same new idea.

Special Report

Europe Declares War Against the Jews, Again

By 12.16.15

Israel’s largest trading partner, the European Union, is about to implement a process of labeling goods produced in both the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

There is something terribly unseemly about Europeans labeling Jewish products, but then when Sweden commemorates Kristallnacht, while asking Jews not to attend let alone participate, it would appear that sensitivity to Jewish suffering and feelings is not high on the European agenda, not that it ever has been.

Chinese products made in Tibet, which China obliterated from the map, will not be labeled. Russian products from the newly conquered Crimea will not be labeled. Neither will products from any of a dozen areas in the world that are in territorial dispute. Only products made by Jews.

The whole business reeks of anti-Semitism.

So, what ostensibly motivates the Europeans to implement this malevolent policy?

A Further Perspective

Attacking the Truth: Part II

By 12.16.15

The case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, involving racial double standards in admissions to the University of Texas at Austin, has an Alice-in-Wonderland quality that has been all too common in other Supreme Court cases involving affirmative action in academia, going all the way back to 1978.

Plain hard facts dissolve into rhetorical mysticism in these cases, where evasions of reality have been the norm.

One inconvenient reality is that racial double standards by government institutions are contrary to the “equal protection of the laws” prescribed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Therefore racial double standards must be called something else — whether “holistic” admissions criteria or a quest for the many magical benefits of “diversity” that are endlessly asserted but never demonstrated.

Such mental gymnastics are not peculiar to the Supreme Court of the United States. I encountered the same evasive language in other countries with group preference programs, during the years when I was doing research for my book Affirmative Action Around the World. This was one of the sadder examples of the brotherhood of man.

The Current Crisis

Trump Finds an Ally

By 12.16.15

Ladies and gentlemen, he has done it again. Donald Trump has with a few lines uttered in his gamy style set off a cacophonous controversy that threatens to overwhelm just about every other controversy in this controversy-bountiful nation. It has even overwhelmed global warming or climate change, or whatever they are choosing to call the delusion this time. Last week Trump called for a ten-year moratorium on Muslim migration into America, and all hell broke loose. In light of Muslim violence around the world this brouhaha caught me off guard, especially when one considers the violence in Texas, Tennessee, and most recently San Bernardino, California. In Paris the violence was against unarmed civilians by Muslims both indigenous and foreign born. In San Bernardino it was much the same. Is it not time to at least temporarily tighten the immigration laws?

Main Street U.S.A.

University That Doesn’t Know What ‘Equality’ Means

By 12.16.15

Wasn’t there a time when universities dedicated themselves chiefly to the spread of knowledge and wisdom, or, you know, to anything besides social engineering, cultural manipulation and political posturing?

Yes, there was such a time. “Was.” Past tense.

We shouldn’t be surprised, in this day of wallpaper politics (i.e., politics everywhere you look), to find the mighty University of Texas urging the U.S. Supreme Court to allow it the political mission of “diversifying” its student body through, among other raw tactics, racial discrimination.

UT is embroiled in a battle with the courts over its claim that a “holistic” admissions policy is needed to make the Austin campus less white, in order to reflect changing demographics. Nobody in his right mind would argue against the intended result — a diverse campus — were it not for the university’s plea to be excluded legally from the requirement of treating student applicants equally, judging them only on merit rather than such non-academic characteristics as leadership qualities, community service, socioeconomic status or race. That last criterion most of all, perhaps.

Free Market Accountability Project

How the Medical Industry Profits From a Broken Patent System

By 12.16.15

As negotiations over patent reform continue to crawl along, sometimes at a pace that would make a snail jealous, one of the big sticking points across both sides is the issue of how to handle pharmaceutical patents. To hear both sides tell it, the issue varies wildly in terms of importance, with the industry claiming the future of medicine hinges on how it’s handled, and their opponents dismissing this as simple fear-mongering by rent-gobbling crooks.

To be fair, there is at least a grain of truth to both sides. It’s certainly true that the medical industry has to invest a lot of time and money in research and development in order to get a drug that passes muster with the FDA — time and money that a different class of patent holder doesn’t have to worry about. Conservatives are right to sympathize with businesses having their profits held down by an inefficient and ponderous government bureaucracy with its fat thumb on the scale.

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