Tuesday, February 9, 2016

America’s Balkan Values

By Victor Davis Hanson
Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The racial spoils industry survives on several requisites.

One, Americans must be readily identifiable as being non-white or white. Two, once non-white claimants pass the racial litmus test, they must think and speak in a particular progressive manner, in dutiful obeisance to those who set up and perpetuate the racial spoils system. And three, racialism must remain defined as a one-way bias.

The problem with the first criterion is multifold. America today truly is a multiracial, intermarried society in which the old rubric “white” no longer equates to “of European descent.” Obama’s racist former minister Rev. Jeremiah Wright appears whiter than many Americans of Mediterranean heritage.

Lots of Americans of various hues are de facto classified as white, either by themselves or by the government that refuses to make them eligible for affirmative action. Over the years I had hundreds of students who were clearly non-white in appearance, first-generation Americans of Arab, Armenian, and Punjabi background, who did not qualify for any racial set-asides. The vast majority of them were as dark as or darker than third-generation Mexican-Americans who did.

Many whites of European descent are indistinguishable from so-called Latinos. Certainly a Sicilian-American can look more “Latino” than someone of Mexican or South American descent. If Ted Cruz took his mother’s name, no one would know that Ted Wilson was Latino. If George Zimmerman had used the name Jorge Mesa, the Trayvon Martin confrontation never would have made front-page news. Such a rigged system cannot even defend its own biases. Accordingly, it retreats toward the subjective category “diversity” to make up prejudice and its remedies, in ad hoc fashion, on the basis of career and political expediencies.

The Latino Marco Rubio could claim ancestry from anywhere, while former presidential candidate Bobby Jindal appears clearly of Indian ancestry. In our sick racial-spoils system, Rubio qualifies as a minority and Jindal does not. Is the reasoning that Rubio will encounter more white-generated prejudice than the darker Jindal, or that Rubio’s ancestors in Cuba suffered more than Jindal’s in India?

Much of the liberal press has ridiculed Rubio and Cruz, either because their appearances and Cuban ancestry do not quite make them authentic “Latinos” or “Hispanics,” or because their conservative politics disqualify them as deserving minorities and instead make them seem ungrateful to their liberal benefactors. In this unhinged way of thinking, a quite dark Clarence Thomas, who grew up destitute in the old Jim Crow South, is not as authentic an African-American as Barack Obama, who is of half-Kenyan ancestry and was raised by his upper-middle-class white grandparents and schooled at Honolulu’s most exclusive prep school. Make Obama right-wing and Thomas left-wing, and journalists would question Obama about everything from his prep school to his name change at age ten.

In truth, government efforts to racialize Americans — mostly for the benefit of tribal careerists — have failed and have left behind utter chaos, rank opportunism, and dangerous cynicism.

Eager for government-promoted racial advantages, and aware that appearance is no longer necessary for socially constructed racial status, a number of white careerists have reinvented themselves as minorities to gain job traction. Senator Elizabeth Warren was Harvard Law School’s first “Native American” faculty member on the basis of her grandfather’s high cheekbones and unsubstantiated family lore. Ward Churchill, with beads and headband but without an earned Ph.D., became a “Native-American” tenured campus activist at the University of Colorado Boulder. Rachel Dolezal teased her hair a bit and reinvented herself as the president of the local NAACP chapter in Spokane. Shaun King altered his patois, claimed he was black, and became a national spokesman for the Black Lives Matter movement. Note well: None of these people claimed that their ancestry was really Italian, Punjabi, Jewish, Korean, or Arab. Apparently, invented “diversity” status of that nature would not win career advantages.

So who is deserving of special set-asides? Take the case of multimillionaire Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who fled Mexico’s censorship and came to America to establish a lucrative career under the singular protection of the U.S. Constitution as a self-appointed advocate against supposed American nativism. Has America been so unkind to Ramos that his children will have to have special help getting into college, while the progeny of an out-of-work coal miner in West Virginia or an Armenian farmer in Chico cannot qualify?

Sometimes just changing names is all that is necessary when politically correct race is in doubt. When children are unsure that the state knows their racial IDs — and since the government has not yet issued yellow, star-shaped DNA badges — they must amplify their tenuous heritage through language. (We forget that Hitler’s problem in the racist Third Reich was that he had built a career on demonizing Jews as parasites and then discovered that most Germans could not distinguish German Jews in their midst without Nazi-issued lapel badges, often the work of genealogists and pseudo-race-studies hacks in the university.)

So a Susan Smith with a Mexican grandmother becomes Susan Lopez-Smith, while a German-American would not become Susan Schmidt Wilson. A Rick Smith becomes Ricardo Smith, and with that change gains a hundred or so SAT points as a bonus. As a general rule, the more exotic the name, and the less white and less American it sounds, the more one’s career is aided. Certainly, a prep-school kid called Barry Dunham or even Barry Soetero would not have the career trajectory of Barack Hussein Obama. A Barry cannot claim to be the victim of American nativist prejudice; a Barack can.

But even nomenclature goes only so far. One can lose even specially crafted minority profiles by the wrong politics. Were Obama to have a political revelation and turn conservative, his half-black status and exotic Middle Eastern/African names would be the stuff of ridicule. He would suffer the fate of a Ted Cruz or a Marco Rubio and be branded as a sellout opportunist — in a way that he currently is not, despite all the time spent on tony golf courses, Martha’s Vineyard vacations, and Hawaiian junkets, and despite the Goldman Sachs campaign gifts.

Someone raised in poverty who rejects the liberal creed is stamped inauthentic while someone far better off but solidly leftwing is approved of as legitimate. The noted philosopher, scholar, and economist Thomas Sowell was raised in utter poverty in Harlem during the 1940s and 1950s. Somehow he is not deemed a proper representative of the pre–Civil Rights black experience, while the college-dropout and racial provocateur Ta-Nehisi Coates is, despite growing up in relative middle-class security during the age of affirmative action. Coates writes autobiographies damning white America for problems in the black community; Sowell offers data to urge self-help and inner reflection. One is useful for claims on government assistance, the other antithetical to that effort. Thus Sowell is considered not really black. “Ta-Nehisi” sends a tingle up the leg of a white liberal in a way that “Tom” does not.

The wealthy and mostly white cultural elite set up this Byzantine racial-spoils system, and it understandably reflects their prejudices and moral emptiness. They assumed that their own class privileges and insider leverage would allow themselves and their offspring to navigate around minority set-asides quite easily. Certainly on their own academic merits, the huge Kennedy clan did not all qualify for Ivy League admission. Had an Appalachian kid sent in the same test scores and GPAs as Al Gore, John Kerry, or the Kennedys, he would surely never have been admitted to any Ivy League college. Having a Latino name is valuable for getting an edge into Yale, but still not as valuable as having a grandfather who was a Wall Street–groomed government adviser or an alum mom who helps run Citibank.

The architects of affirmative action also envisioned racial rubrics as a form of personal medieval-style penance. By bestowing some of their own privileges on selected minority categories, liberal grandees helped assuage their own guilt over their de facto apartheid and material privilege. Wealthy white liberal America, the engine that drives racialization, usually does not live, go to school, or engage in leisure activities among those minorities it selects for racial advantages.

Hollywood may agonize over the racial and ethnic makeup of its Oscar nominees, but Malibu is for the most part a lily-white fortress, where affirmative action does not translate into subsidized public housing for the poor on the Pacific Coast beaches. Mark Zuckerberg is a multi-billionaire progressive activist, but that fact only empowers him to stealthily buy up his neighbors’ homes to form a de facto moat around his compound.

Of course, the old liberal wealthy white American class was politically savvy and self-interested, and so it glued affirmative action onto its own progressive politics. Those who bestow advantages demand obeisance in return. Nothing enrages a wealthy white liberal more than when someone of minority status, after receiving an affirmative-action edge, evolves into thinking that the entire race-based system of classification is rotten to the core. A black “turncoat” becomes a pariah in a way that even redneck gun owners or the Palins do not. It is fair game to slander Ted Cruz as an inauthentic Latino, while the Left believes that Barack Obama, of equally half-minority status, is a trailblazing minority candidate. The media quiz Cruz on his Spanish-speaking ability, while they would not the non-Spanish-speaking Julian Castro, the current liberal heartthrob.

Considerations of class are anathema to the racial-spoils system. Who would approve of the children of dirt-poor whites in rural Tulare County gaining an edge over the offspring of Jorge Ramos or Eric Holder? For the 0.01-percenter white liberal, poor whites conjure up Duck Dynasty and Ice Truckers, strange folk who can be used to represent untoward white privilege, but who lack, on the one hand, the romance of the minority poor and, on the other, the cultural tastes of the white elite. Much of the left-wing hatred of evangelicals and the NRA is due to the perception that these are cultural hubs of tastelessness, whose disparagement is cheap, easy, and of some value in broadcasting liberal credentials to minority elites. Sexist attacks on Bristol Palin are hip, but not so questions about how Chelsea Clinton somehow became worth $15 million.

Finally, racial prejudice is a circular firing squad now. Blacks lament the lack of Oscars but not the racially disproportionate NFL, NBA, and their commensurate MVP awards. In sick 21st-century America, lamenting the lack of black Oscar nominees logically leads to calls for an all-black Oscar alternative, where no one but blacks (not even Latinos) can be nominated. I suppose the theory is that blacks can spot authentic African-Americans, perhaps borrowing the one- or two-drop rule of the Old Confederacy. Putting de facto quotas on Asian-Americans for college admissions is okay; after all, such bias won’t hurt successful, grade-grubbing Asians, who are too enamored of capitalism even if they espouse liberal politics. Wondering why the meritocratic NFL is vastly disproportionately African-American is taboo; wondering why meritocratic UC Berkeley is disproportionately Asian-American is politically correct.

The Latin American experience is far more racialized than is even the European. Mexican immigrants tend to display biases against blacks that other groups do not, and they have a sophisticated color-coded self-screening that is unknown in el Norte. For truly despicable racist caricatures of Barack Obama or Condoleezza Rice, consult what the Arab world and the North Koreans have spouted. Jeremiah Wright was an anti-Semite of the Farrakhan stripe. Strip away liberal indemnity insurance, and Obama’s “typical white person” is or is not as racist as Joe Biden’s description of Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.” Because the race industry is ideologically driven, its rules are logically inconsistent and ultimately incoherent.

The termite-ridden foundations of the racial-spoils temple are crumbling, as they have dissolved earlier in our 19th- and early-20th-century past. Soon the entire rotten edifice will collapse under the weight of its own inherent contradictions and illiberal prejudices.

Marco Rubio Is The GOP’s Best Shot At The Presidency

By Rachel Lu
Monday, February 08, 2016

Is Marco Rubio the Republican Barack Obama? Let’s hope so. Admittedly, I’ve suppressed a few memories from the past eight years, but didn’t that guy win two elections, and also deliver the top item on his supporters’ policy wish list? I thought so.

I’m greedy. I do actually want more. I want a conservative Obama for the next ten months, but once the victory party’s over, I don’t want him to similarly morph into a bitter and schoolmarmish Haranguer-In-Chief.

Instead, I want the kind of charismatic leader who can build coalitions, pursue reasonable policy reforms, and persuade younger voters to give conservatism a chance. It’s a lot to ask, but I think it’s what we need. Rubio is the last man standing who conceivably might be that guy.

Rejoice! The Establishment Is Defeated!

Let’s clear a few of the stupid arguments out of the way. Desperate competitors have been arguing that Rubio is too green to be president. It could be true, but it’s irrelevant. The experience train has left the station. Voters are clearly in no mood this year to settle for a member of the old guard.

Among the live contenders, Rubio has as much experience as any. (Yes, he does have real accomplishments to his name, starting with this. He may have been blindsided by Chuck Schumer in 2013, but the man has some savvy political instincts.)

Yes, he is obviously ambitious. Ted Cruz isn’t? It’s fair to say this is an occupational hazard of people who volunteer themselves as fit to lead the free world.

Equally foolish is the claim that Rubio’s “establishment” connections make him untrustworthy. Ironically, one of the main purveyors of this smear is Jeb Bush. Finding himself seated atop a massive war chest with no real path to the White House, Bush used those dollars to spread the message that Rubio is a shifty, scheming establishment stooge. Aren’t these political ironies fun?

Right now, Chris Christie, Bush, and Cruz all have Rubio directly in their sights. Everyone knows he is the man to beat. That means that, unlike Donald Trump (who has been draped with fawning media sycophants for months), Rubio has come through the juggernaut. He’s vetted. If you’re looking for the candidate who has already survived a maelstrom of establishment fury, Rubio is your man.

It’s true enough that he’s emerging as the remaining “establishment favorite.” I suspect this explains the vibe I’m getting from some conservative friends who complain that while Rubio seems to have all the right pieces, they’re “just not feeling it.” I get it. They gave themselves permission to fall for a bad boy this time around, and Rubio is starting to look plausibly presidential. It feels like a let-down.

Here’s the reality, though. At some point in the electoral process, your candidate has to start looking plausible or you will lose. Rubio’s background is anything but “establishment.” But it is true that his political gifts may enable him to pull the coalition back together in time to win the general election. That’s a plus, not a liability.

Here Comes Socialism

Now would be the perfect time to get it together, because over on the other side of the line, the signs are ominous. A self-identified socialist has a very real chance of winning the nomination. Even if he doesn’t, his popularity shows that socialism is no longer an ugly word among young people. Almost half of Americans under 30 say their associations with socialism are positive, which explains why Sen. Bernie Sanders absolutely dominated among young Democrats in Iowa.

The good news for conservatives is that the Democrats are a mess. They’re nowhere close to getting their affairs in order. This is an opening for us, if we can pull ourselves together enough to take advantage of it.

The bad news, though, is that this would be a very bad election to lose, and we definitely could. Nominating Trump is the best way to do that. Americans are already very familiar with Trump’s persona, and they dislike him intensely (even more than they do Hillary Clinton). Cruz would be a better choice, but would still be very likely to lose.

Rubio polls better in every demographic. Electability isn’t everything, but given two very conservative candidates with extremely similar platforms, why not pick the one more likely to win?

There’s more bad news, unfortunately. Remember back in 2013, when every conversation came back to the need to grow the conservative base? That problem hasn’t gone away, and far from souring on their experience with progressivism, today’s young people are walking around calling themselves socialists. We can’t afford to throw caution to the wind right now by nominating someone who flatters us and panders to our own insecurities.

It’s essential at this moment to find a spokesman who can make the pitch for conservatism, winning new converts, and reversing alarming trends. Consider the three figures still standing tall on the primary stage. Which one stands a chance of starting the next Reagan Revolution?

The Stealth Conservative

If, like me, you liked Rubio long before he was a serious presidential contender, it stings to read multiple accounts of how he’s everyone’s number two. He was my number one even back in the “clown car” chapter of this primary season. His talent is just obvious, and he has an inspiring up-by-the-bootstraps story that general-election voters will love. He’s a man of serious religious faith and consistent pro-life convictions. Also, he defeated Charlie Crist! And Jeb Bush hates him! In what universe is this our establishment stooge?

On a substantive level, Rubio has long showed a deep and sustained interest in responsible policy reform. This seems important to me in a political environment where many candidates offer boatload of empty moral indignation for every ounce of policy smarts.

With a Tea Party background, Rubio understands the logic of small government, but he can also hold his own with the wonks and political strategists. He was talking about the “hollowing out of the middle class” long before Trump’s demagoguing brought that anxiety to full boil. He might be able to convert “the party of No” into something more constructive, and he’s also the only candidate who stands even a fair chance of shoring up the GOP’s relationship with frustrated middle-class voters, without abandoning critical initiatives like entitlement reform.

Thus far, this election season has been good for adrenaline junkies, but bad for coronary health. The conflagration of populist angst might still consume conservatism completely, leaving us in a bleak world of endless identity politics. On the other hand, populist chaos might end up being a plus if it helps us refine our agenda (for instance, on immigration) while enabling a staunchly conservative candidate like Rubio to present himself to the public as a moderate. (For his noble service as the “bad cop” in this stratagem, I think Cruz would definitely deserve a nomination to SCOTUS.)

It’s been fun giving the suits their turn in the panic room, but at this point “the establishment” has resoundingly lost. It’s time for conservatives to re-unite now so the Democrats can also lose. As a sharp, savvy, and very conservative candidate, Rubio is the best “compromise candidate” conservative voters could ever hope to find.

How to Fix Illegal Immigration in Five Steps without Building a Wall

By Kevin D. Williamson
Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Beware the bundler. I don’t mean the political fundraiser (though those guys can be pretty shady, too) but the lawmaker, the guy who insists that every issue is related to every other issue and that the only solution is a grand “comprehensive” bipartisan compromise resulting in a generation-defining piece of legislation that’s 8,000 pages long.

Consider the question of illegal immigration.

No, not the question of immigration — illegal immigration. There’s a temptation to bundle those together, because we have problems with our legal immigration regime, too, but the more tightly we tie them together, the more closely we bind ourselves to “solutions” that aren’t. With illegal immigration, we won’t get 100 percent of the way there with five reforms, but we might get 92 percent of the way there.

One: Enact a law that does one thing: prohibit people who have entered the United States illegally from applying for citizenship — even if their current status is legal. If you ever have entered the United States illegally, you don’t ever become a citizen.

Two: Enact a law that does one thing: prohibit people who have entered the United States illegally from applying for a work permit — even if their current status is legal. If you ever have entered the United Sates illegally, you don’t ever get a work permit.

That’s your firewall against amnesty. Vote against those laws, and you’re voting for amnesty; vote to repeal them down the line, you’re voting for amnesty. This creates good political incentives in Washington and removes bad incentives among those who come here illegally expecting that their status eventually will be made legal.

Three: work-place enforcement. That means universal, mandatory E-Verify (or an equivalent system), with a database that actually works. At the same time, redefine the legal responsibilities of employers: Rather than facing civil and criminal penalties for knowingly hiring an illegal, they should face civil and criminal penalties for failing to verify the legal status of an employee. While immigration is inherently a federal issue, there is no reason there could not be state and local laws against hiring illegals, and no reason those laws should not include big fines and asset forfeiture, a legal penalty that is sometimes abused but which is appropriate in the case of what is largely an economic crime. If Bubba’s Landscaping loses a truck every time it gets busted using illegal day labor, or you lose your restaurant for hiring illegal dishwashers, you’re going to start being more scrupulous.

Four: Harassment. Put a C (citizen) or an N (noncitizen) on driver’s licenses and state identification cards. We don’t need a national identification card. But most states already require documentation of your legal status under the REAL ID Act, and among states that will issue IDs to illegals (California, for example), it is common for those licenses to have a distinguishing mark. (Republicans at the state level also should work to prohibit the issuing of state IDs to illegal immigrants categorically.) We should require certain regulated businesses — especially banks, check-cashing companies, and those offering electronic fund transfers — to require noncitizens to document their legal status when making certain transactions that routinely require a photo ID, such as cashing a check, sending a wire transfer, boarding a domestic flight, renting a hotel room, etc. This places no new burdens on citizens, minimal burdens on businesses, and very light burdens on legally present aliens. This won’t prevent visa overstays entirely, but it will make overstaying a much less attractive proposition.

Five: Enact a law that does one thing: prohibit people who have entered the United States illegally from ever being legally permitted to enter the country.

And, do: nothing.

Not nothing, exactly. There’s a great deal more to be done: border fencing, where appropriate (not everybody who crosses the border is looking for a job), and other measures where fencing doesn’t make sense; developing a real entry-exit control system; developing a real entry-visa screening system for security threats, one that looks more like Palantir and less like Skippy the FBI Intern calling your high-school principal. And then there’s the question of legal immigration. Those are big, long-term, complicated, expensive reforms — reforms that we are going to have to make.

But that should not stop us from doing simple, sensible things right now.

Our debate over immigration proceeds as though there were some sudden urgency to do something about the illegals already present. Their presence is a problem — we do, after all, purport to be a nation of laws — but it isn’t a new problem. Some of them have been here for decades. Some on the right talk as though it is an absolute national imperative to deport every one of them — yesterday — while some on the left insist that we have a pressing moral duty to normalize their status. I’m not convinced that we have a duty to do that at all, and I’m absolutely sure that we don’t have to do it right this minute. Reverse those bad incentives, get a little bit mean on work-place enforcement, interrupt their economic lives, and let’s see what happens next. We don’t have to do everything at once.

Hillary’s Rationale for Opposing Citizens United Fell Apart in Last Week’s Debate

By David B. Rivkin Jr. & Darin Bartram
Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Few politicians have railed more loudly against the Supreme Court’s 2010 key First Amendment decision, Citizens United v. FEC, than the star of the Citizens United–produced political documentary (Hillary: The Movie) that provided the factual basis for the decision. But forget about the kind of independent advocacy at issue in that case or even highly regulated campaign contributions. At last Thursday’s debate against Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton grandly asserted that she could not be bought or influenced even by huge amounts of money flowing directly into her own pocket from mega-corporations such as Goldman Sachs. She angrily denied the corrupting influence of money in politics when she is the one cashing the check. Having done that, on what possible basis can Secretary Clinton oppose the kind of independent speech unleashed by Citizens United?

It has become a matter of Democrat orthodoxy that Citizens United has been a disaster, because it enables groups of citizens, including those organized in the corporate form, to freely engage in political speech. To many Democrats, that is tantamount to buying elections and politicians. Secretary Clinton’s opposition to Citizens United is well known and a central plank of her presidential campaign. Just last month, in noting the six-year anniversary of that decision, she accused the Court of having “transformed our politics by allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections.”

While slamming the Supreme Court’s decision, Hillary Clinton has pledged something that most presidential candidates shy away from: a litmus test for future Supreme Court nominees if she is elected, to ensure they would vote to overturn Citizens United. She has also endorsed partially repealing the First Amendment to enable the government to restrict political speech for a variety of purposes, including the alleged need to equalize the ability of diverse voices to participate in democratic governance. Presumably, films like Hillary: The Movie wouldn’t make the cut.

The Supreme Court in Citizens United concluded that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent political advocacy by corporations, labor unions, and associations, because such speech expenditures do not pose a threat of quid pro quo corruption or even the credible appearance of corruption. They simply expand the marketplace of ideas. The decision led to the establishment of super PACs, regulated groups that can receive unlimited donations from individuals and corporations to spend on political and policy advocacy. It also permitted well-established national advocacy groups — whether the National Rifle Association or the Sierra Club — to become energetically engaged in political speech and debates.

It would perhaps be unreasonable to ask Clinton to live under the campaign-finance regulations she claims to favor rather the ones that exist today and under which her Republican opponents operate. (To be sure, Senator Bernie Sanders has managed to nearly match her in the polls notwithstanding his lack of a quasi-official super PAC.) Not surprisingly, Sanders has distinguished himself from Clinton by noting her cozy relationship with Wall Street firms and repeatedly called attention to the huge speaking fees Clinton has received from Goldman Sachs and others, as well as the millions of dollars in campaign and super-PAC contributions from the finance and pharmaceutical sectors that support her candidacy.

At the Thursday debate, Clinton clearly had had enough. She said that Sanders was engaging in a “very artful smear” when he repeatedly highlighted these fees and contributions. She accused him of insinuating that someone who “ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought.” Clinton also very forcefully said, “You will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation I ever received.”

By asserting that she can take money from these groups, including honorary fees to spend as she sees fit for personal rather then political benefit, and that she has not been even slightly influenced by all this largess, she has disavowed the corrupting influence of money in politics far beyond anything contained in Citizens United. Money corrupts the typical politician, she seems to be claiming; but she alone is a person of such moral probity that, like Marlow venturing into the jungle in Heart of Darkness, she can escape unchanged — even when companies such as Goldman Sachs are cutting checks to her personal account. Does Clinton honestly believe it would be more corrupting if, rather than paying off Clinton directly, Goldman instead sponsored TV ads in support of her candidacy? Of course not — the very idea is ludicrous.

We will probably never know whether Secretary Clinton’s assertion at the debate of Sanders’s “very artful smear” was rehearsed, or spontaneous. What is beyond doubt is that Secretary Clinton just gutted the basis for her long opposition to the Citizens United decision.