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Culture Vultures

The College Frankenstein

By 11.11.15

Monday morning, the embattled University of Missouri President, Tim Wolfe, resigned after pressure from student groups over a series of “racial incidents” that apparently marred the campus experience to such a degree that no one can effectively name the incidents in question without consulting a timeline that seems to quantify them as “he said/he said” events, without any specific details.

Another Perspective

What Makes the Palestinian Movement Like the American Civil Rights Movement?

By 11.11.15

In recent years, the Palestinian movement has tried to hijack the American civil rights movement by drawing false and historical parallels. Yet, there is a striking similarity between the two movements that has largely been ignored.

In the Jim Crow South, the southern oligarchy maintained its position of oppression and exploitation by setting poor white sharecroppers against poor blacks, both of whose economic deprivation was a consequence of the very same corrupt social, economic, and political system.

As long as poor whites could be socialized to believe that blacks, not an entrenched system of elite oppression, were the cause of their poverty, then all the elite had to do to stay in power was to pit the two groups against each other.

A number of scholarly works delineated the problem, most prominent among them, V. O. Key, Southern Politics in State and Nation and W. J. Cash, The Mind of the South.

The Right Prescription

Obamacare Grant Scandal: Congress Awakes!

By 11.11.15

Last April, the HHS Office of Inspector General issued an alert concerning the misuse of Obamacare start-up grants by certain states. Congress yawned. Later, the Obama administration illegally rewrote the law’s limitations on how these funds could be spent. Our elected representatives remained inert. In August, a few Senators bestirred themselves enough to write to the Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) concerning how he planned to recoup grants from failed exchanges. The House still snored. Even after state skullduggery involving the grants was reported in this space on September 14, and subsequently by other publications, the House slumbered.

Play Ball

My Ten Picks for Cooperstown’s Class of 2016

By 11.10.15

In 2015, the National Baseball Hall of Fame enshrined four players — Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio. It was the largest class inducted in 60 years. On Monday, the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot was released. Will next year’s class be just as large? In order to be inducted, a player must receive at least 75% of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). Members of the BBWAA can vote for up to 10 players. If I were a member of the BBWAA, this would be my 2016 Hall of Fame Ballot. Please note that many on this list were on my 2015 ballot.

1. Ken Griffey, Jr. 
This is The Kid’s first year of eligibility. Griffey Jr. is a shoo-in for induction. In 22 seasons, Junior collected 2,781 hits, had a lifetime batting average of .284, blasted 630 home runs, drove in 1836 runs, was named to 13 All-Star teams, won 10 Gold Gloves. and earned the AL MVP in 1997.

A Further Perspective

Mizzou’s Very Real Political Football

By 11.10.15

Activists at the University of Missouri just won themselves a trophy Monday. After weeks of protests against the president of the University of Missouri System, Tim Wolfe — and, most importantly, after the Mizzou football team threatened to boycott games until Wolfe quit — the administrator caved. “It is my belief we stopped listening to each other. We have to respect each other enough to stop yelling at each other and start listening and quit intimidating each other,” said the clearly intimidated Wolfe.

The New York Times attributed student and faculty demands that Wolfe resign to “racial tensions.” Black students report being called the N-word. In October, someone used feces to draw a swastika in the university’s Gateway Hall. Activists formed the group Concerned Student 1950, named after the year the University of Missouri first admitted African-Americans.

Main Street U.S.A.

Offside at Mizzou

By 11.10.15

I tell you, it’s great to be alive and cognizant that the greatest thing going on at the University of Missouri, large-domed citadel of learning and culture, is — you guessed it — football!

Truly, the U of M Tigers don’t have such a tiger-ish record this season, just four wins against five losses (with four of those losses in a row). But the less-than-super-duper Tigers and their coaching staff engineered this week the resignation of the university’s president, Timothy Wolfe. The guy had let down the team.

Likewise he had let down campus and state critics, including the Kansas City Star’s editorial writers, who encouraged the football team in its stand against Wolfe.

How exactly had Wolfe let them down? Was it something to do with the need for higher academic standards at Mizzou? Or a stronger faculty? Or more intensive courses in different languages? No, racism was the issue. Recent incidents on campus brought things to a head. These included a truck full of white men yelling racial epithets at a black student and someone smearing human feces into the shape of a swastika inside a university building.

Buy the Book

Jack Kemp: The Book

By 11.10.15

“If space aliens were to land a flying saucer on the Capitol’s South Lawn, one question they might ask is: Wherever did you get the idea that cutting taxes would increase revenue?”

As Ronald Reagan might say, there he goes again.

The space alien question comes at the very opening of Timothy Noah’s New York Times book review of Jack Kemp: The Bleeding-Heart Conservative Who Changed America by Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes. 

Car Guy

The VW ‘Fix’ (Or: Don’t Take Any Wooden Nickels)

By 11.10.15

Never take a wooden nickel.

Or a “credit card” from VW.

Reportedly, the under-siege automaker is going to send out prepaid credit cards to people who own one of the diesel-powered models VW adjusted to “cheat” government emissions tests.

But the catch is that you have to bring the car in to a VW dealer in order to “validate” the card.

The card — the lure of cash, that is — is kind of like the piece of cheese you place on the business end of a mousetrap. Both serve the same purpose.

In the case of the card, the whole object is not to give VW owners “free” money — or to regain their confidence.

It is to get their hands on the cars.

To “fix” them.

That is, to reprogram them. So that they perform less well (i.e., not as much power/performance, reduced fuel economy).

But they will be in compliance with EPA’s insane emissions control fatwas.

They will emit a fraction of a percent less of this or that — and it will appease the EPA.

For now.

The Environmental Spectator

We’ll Always Have Paris

By 11.10.15

For the first time, “Catholic leaders representing all regional and national bishops conferences” have come together in a “joint appeal.” According to reporting in the New York Times, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, India, called the October 26 meeting at the Vatican a “historic occasion.”

What brought all these Catholic leaders together for the first time? Not the refugee crisis in Europe. Not the plight of Christians in the Middle East. Not to meet over the church’s current scandalous finances. Not a prayer meeting or a Bible study. It was climate change and the climate aid funds, which take from the rich countries to give to the poor, promoting renewable energy.

A Further Perspective

The Ben Carson Flaps

By 11.10.15

Dr. Ben Carson’s whole life has been very unusual, so perhaps we should not be surprised to see the latest twist — the media going ballistic over discrepancies in a few things he said.

Years ago, when I was writing some autobiographical sketches, I dug up old letters, to check out things that I remembered — and was surprised more than once to discover that my memory was not always exactly the same as the way things had happened and were recorded at the time.

In the current flap over some things that Dr. Carson said, the biggest discrepancy has been between the furor in the media and the irrelevance of his statements to any political issue.

For example, in a video that someone dug up, Dr. Carson said to an audience that his “theory” about the Pyramids is that they were used as storage facilities. He was smiling as he said this, so it is not clear whether he was using this theory just to illustrate some point. But, in any case, he was not claiming this as a fact.

More important, the Pyramids are not an issue in today’s American political campaign, except as a “gotcha” gimmick.