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Views on the News

Views on the News*

November 21, 2015

 

So many are getting so easily offended by every perceived slight, real or imagined.  These days a fellow can't compliment a lady for wearing a beautiful dress without worrying that she might call him a chauvinist pig.  A fellow can't criticize a President, whose policies have doubled our government debt, without being called a hater and a racist.  We can't question whether climate change may correlate to natural phenomena without being called a climate Luddite, whose questioning will kill us all.  Across the country, critical thinking is being overcome by emotional thinking, and this feelings-based approach is being institutionalized on college campuses.  College students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don't like.  This is a worrisome turn of events. Universities are not supposed to be in the business of teaching students what to think, but how to think.  What we call the Socratic method is a way of teaching that fosters critical thinking, in part by encouraging students to question their own unexamined beliefs, as well as the received wisdom of those around them.  Critical thinking is hard work; feelings are easy.  A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.  What is worrisome about the institutionalization of emotional thinking over critical thinking is that easily offended emotional thinkers are going to have a much more challenging time getting through their lives and solving their problems, not to mention the considerable challenges our country is facing.  Emotional thinking, whereby you allow yourself and your feelings to be the center of your universe, puts you at risk of being swallowed up by your problem.  Rational, critical thinking, which helps you to step outside of your worries and prejudices, gives you the liberty to evaluate and resolve the difficult challenges you will eventually face.  Universities need to get back to their original mission, teaching critical thinking, as stated by Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia: “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”

(“Critical Thinking Needed” by Tom Purcell dated November 17, 2015 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/tompurcell/2015/11/17/critical-thinking-needed-n2081551 )

Barack Obama’s presidency has been pockmarked by rioting, looting and protests, which is no coincidence, since it’s what the former community organizer sought from Day One.  It’s just going to get worse before he leaves office.  The senseless protests we’re seeing unfold on the campuses of the University of Missouri, Yale and other colleges, as well as on bridges and highway overpasses and outside police stations, are the kind of thing Obama was trained to organize while attending leftist agitation schools founded by Chicago communist Saul Alinsky.  He learned how to “rub raw the sores of discontent.”  Now Obama is returning the favor of his Alinsky masters, training and cloning an army of social justice bullies to carry on his revolution to “fundamentally transform America.” He’s doing it mainly through a little-known but well-funded group called Organizing for Action, or OFA, which will outlast his administration.  OFA, formerly Obama for America, has trained more than 10,000 leftist organizers, who, in turn, are training more than 2 million youths in Alinsky street tactics.  The leftist group, recently registered as a 501c4 nonprofit eligible for unlimited contributions, holds regular “organizing summits” on college campuses.  Through social media, they mobilize flash mobs against “biased cops,” “climate-change deniers,” “Wall Street predators” and “gun extremists.”  They hold rallies against conservative foes of gay marriage, LGBT rights, abortion and amnesty for illegal immigrants.  In addition, Obama has trained hundreds of thousands of junior agitators through AmeriCorps, a Clinton youth program he’s dramatically expanded, and through My Brother’s Keeper, the “racial justice” initiative he launched in the wake of the 2012 death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.  My Brother’s Keeper agitates for “school discipline reform,” that is, touchy-feely alternatives to suspensions and expulsions, and other measures to “improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.”  All three of these federally sponsored projects have crossover with the Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street movements, both of which Obama embraces. They share manpower and resources, as well as radical agendas, while coordinating activities with nonprofit ACORN clones, who are being secretly bankrolled through Justice Department subprime settlement funds extracted from banks.  Obama has encouraged the nonstop civil unrest exhausting the nation.  The protests of the ’60s had real causes, fighting for civil rights and opposing the draft during an unpopular war.  Today’s protesters are posers grasping at faux causes and ginning up pseudo-grievances about things like Halloween costumes and swastikas drawn in bathrooms.  They are protesters in search of an issue, agitators in search of a target.  They aren’t even rabble-rousers so much as rubble-rousers picking through the charred remains of the last revolution.  The police dogs, truncheons and firehoses of the civil-rights movement have been reduced to slights, slurs and symbols.  Today’s discrimination is “unconscious” or “implicit.”  Activists know it exists, they just can’t prove it.  It’s “systemic,” yet they can’t find it.  Desperate for things to grind against, the omni-protesters of the Obama era are turning on their own.  Even professors, deans and chancellors who worship at the altar of diversity and multiculturalism are enduring their wrath, poetically suffering intolerances in the name of tolerance.  These little flash-fascists are even cannibalizing the First Amendment that gives them the space to be obnoxious.  At Mizzou, they have given campus cops license to police otherwise free speech for “hateful” or “hurtful” words.  Obama has created a generation of militant jerks to continue to proliferate protests against everything and nothing.  Chronic social irritation can do lasting damage to the fabric of a nation.  By falsely accusing people of racism, or sexism, or homophobia, or Islamophobia, or whatever other “ism” or phobia they come up with, these agitators are creating angst and hatred in people’s hearts that wasn’t there previously.  As Alinsky advised Obama: “A revolutionary organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of lives - agitate, create disenchantment and discontent with the current values [until] masses of people have reached the point of disillusionment with past ways and valuesThis will be the President’s enduring legacy!

(“How Obama is bankrolling a non-stop protest against invented outrage” by Paul Sperry dated November 14, 2015 published by New York Post at http://nypost.com/2015/11/14/how-obama-is-bankrolling-a-non-stop-protest-against-invented-outrage/ )

Once again, the sky is falling, only this time it's the ocean that is rising, but the narrative is the same.  The world as we know it is coming to an end unless we enact crippling new carbon taxes, write ever bigger checks to corrupt dictators and U.N. agencies, and reward the host of professional doomsters who are pushing this scam.  The U.N.-sponsored International Climate Conference, which opens in Paris is already generating more than its share of hot air.  Once the 85 presidents and prime ministers, and thousands of other bureaucrats, activists, journalists, and lobbyists arrive, the Paris conference will turn into a carbon circus, with every environmentalist in town warning of greater catastrophes.  It will resemble nothing so much as the medieval Dance of Death, the fabled revels of those caught up in the Great Plague, who, according to legend, caroused in the streets in expectation of imminent doom.  The doom this time comes in the form of CO2, a harmless substance that has pervaded the atmosphere in various amounts since the Earth's creation.  Acting on the unproven theory that increased carbon levels raise the Earth's temperatures, the Paris conferees are determined to impose global limits on carbon "pollution."  What the Paris doomsters won't admit is that higher carbon levels of the past 200 years have had little effect if any on global temperatures, and that whatever change may have occurred has been for the good.  Marginally higher temperatures of the past century, whether from human or natural causes, have increased agricultural production since higher CO2 levels prompt faster plant growth and warmer temperatures expand planting zones.  Most of the Paris conferees aren't interested in the science; they're interested in dollars (hundreds of billions of dollars) to be transferred from the pockets of U.S. taxpayers to crooked political leaders in developing nations and to environmental activists everywhere.  If the most radical proposals of climate alarmists were to be implemented in full, the effect on climate would be imperceptible.  Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, hardly a disinterested party, lowered its 2014 predictions of global temperatures and potential damage.  What's really at stake in Paris is cold, hard cash.  Government agencies continue to skew the data to overcome the inconvenient facts.  Just ahead of the Paris conference, NOAA "adjusted" its findings to rebut data that showed global temperatures falling over the past 15 years, not rising.  Apparently, when money and power are at stake, science takes a back seat.  What's at stake is a global takeover of the entire energy sector and everything dependent on energy, from oil and gas to electric utilities to construction and transportation.  Global hoodlums have been trying to get their hands on this pile of cash for 30 years, ever since environmentalists began issuing their speculative claims of global warming, and now they see their chance.  The main obstacle under discussion is how much the world's developed nations will fork over to developing nations.  One hundred billion dollars, the goal of the failed Copenhagen climate summit, has been deemed insufficient.  Third-world fraudsters have their sights set on much greater sums.  If Obama agrees to these demands, as he may by amending the 1992 Kyoto treaty, thus bypassing the need for Senate approval, the sky really will begin falling, and the Dance of Death can commence.  It will be a Dance of Death for all those in the developing world who live on the margin of survival and who see their commodity and grain prices increase as a consequence of global carbon restrictions.  It will also be a metaphorical Dance of Death for American business, especially for the utility and energy sectors but for others as well.  Carbon regulation is a tax that filters through the entire economy.  In the thick of all this doom and gloom, President Obama will be there, nose held high, basking in the glory of his environmental "legacy."  That legacy will not lower the Earth's temperatures or cause the oceans to part but it will raise the cost of everything produced by the global economy.  Maybe the sky is falling after all, but not as a result of global warming.  It's falling because of the unconstrained greed and arrogance of global leaders like President Obama.  If a global agreement is reached to take control of the energy sector, it will be the end for the U.S. and other developed nations.  The response of the American people to this dangerous nonsense should be "not one penny."  

(“The End of the World, All Over Again” by Jeffrey Folks dated November 18, 2015 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/11/the_end_of_the_world_all_over_again.html )

 

The 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress report shows that U.S. educational achievement leaves much to be desired.  When it comes to reading and math skills, just 34% and 33%, respectively, of U.S. eighth-grade students tested proficient or above, that is, performed at grade level or above.  Only 18% of eighth-graders are proficient in U.S. history.  It's 27% in geography and 23% in civics.  It isn’t any better in high school.  According to 2010 and 2013 NAEP test scores, only 38% of 12th-graders were proficient in reading.  It was 26% in math, 12% in history, 20% in geography and 24% in civics.  Many of these poorly performing youngsters gain college admission.  Every year in the United States, nearly 60% of first-year college students discover that, despite being fully eligible to attend college, they are not ready for postsecondary studies.  In reaction, colleges spend billions of dollars on remedial education.  Many of the students who enroll in those classes never graduate from college. The fact that many students are not college-ready takes on even greater significance when we consider that many college courses have been dumbed down.  Meanwhile, there has been a shocking decline in college academic standards.  Grade inflation is rampant.  Very little improvement in critical reasoning skills occurs in college.  Adult literacy is falling among college graduates.  Large proportions of college graduates do not know simple facts.  At the college level, ideological conformity is increasingly valued over free expression and empirical inquiry.  While educational achievement among whites is nothing to write home about, that for blacks is no less than a disaster.  Only 13% of black eighth-graders score proficient or above in math, and only 16% do in reading.  In 2013, only 7% of black 12th-graders scored proficient in math, and only 16% did in reading.  The full magnitude of the black education tragedy is seen by the statistics on the other end of the achievement continuum.  "Below basic" is the score given when a student is unable to demonstrate even partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at his grade level.  In 2013, 62% of black 12th-graders scored below basic in math, and 44% scored below basic in reading.  The magnitude of today's black education tragedy is entirely new.  The stories of the excellent predominantly black schools of yesteryear refute the notion of "experts" that more money is needed to improve black education.

(“Education Disaster” by Walter E. Williams dated November 18, 2015 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2015/11/18/education-disaster-n2081477 )

War is fiendishly simple because it is the ultimate zero-sum contest; you win or you lose.  Yet even after the horrific slaughter in Paris, there remains a distressing doubt about whether America’s commander-in-chief gets it.  President Obama has spent the last seven years trying to avoid the world as it is.  He has put his intellect and rhetorical skills into the dishonorable service of assigning blame and fudging failure.  If nuances were bombs, Islamic State would have been destroyed years ago.  He refuses to say “Islamic terrorism,” as if that would offend the peaceful Muslims who make up the vast bulk of victims.  He rejects the word “war,” even as jihadists carry out bloodthirsty attacks against Americans and innocent peoples around the world.  He shuns the mantle of global leadership that comes with the Oval Office.  He snubs important partners like Egypt, showers concessions on the apocalyptic mullahs of Iran, and called the Islamic State the “jayvee team” even as it was beginning to create a caliphate.  Having long ago identified American power as a problem, he continues to slash the military as the enemy expands its reach.  The Obama doctrine smacks of cowardly retreat and fanciful isolation.  Obama’s exemption from reality has expired, so he must either commit to leading the free world to victory, or step aside so someone else can.  America must organize the combined forces of the civilized world before Islamic State makes good on its vow to “taste” more American blood.  A top intelligence adviser remarked, “What they did in Paris means they are coming here.”  Law-enforcement officials say the FBI has as many as 1,000 investigations open into Islamic State sympathizers inside the US.  While sparing no effort to stop them here, we must simultaneously destroy them in their foreign bases.  World War III began when Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States, though we did not grasp the significance until 9/11.  The collapse of the Twin Towers, a smoking hole in the Pentagon and a downed jetliner in Pennsylvania revealed the price of our inaction.  The single greatest attack ever against America galvanized the nation and defined a new generation of policy makers and warriors.  Yet Obama always remained curiously cool about the whole endeavor, denouncing the invasion of Iraq as dumb while holding up Afghanistan as a necessary war.  Once he got to the White House, though, he showed no conviction about Afghanistan either, surging troops only to demand that they return home quickly.  The pattern has never changed, and his relationship with a rotating cast of military leaders remains rocky.  Robert Gates, secretary of defense under both President Bush and Obama, said that Obama’s distrust of the military was destructive of the very mission he had given the troops.

(“It’s time for Obama to make a choice: Lead us or resign” by Michael Goodwin dated November 14, 2015 published by New York Post at http://nypost.com/2015/11/14/its-time-for-obama-to-make-a-choice-lead-us-or-resign/ )

A definition of the U.S. national security interest and the determination of the level of military force is required to maintain and defend that interest.  There is nothing inherently wrong or dangerous in the United States being less extended militarily in the world than it has been, as long as the enemy doesn’t step in to take the U.S. place.  This happened when President Obama precipitately departed Iraq, leaving the Shiite majority under the suzerainty of Iran and the Iranians and the Islamic State contending for control of the Sunni portion of the country, causing strategic and humanitarian disasters at the same time.  The conduct of the Chinese is more illustrative of the virtues of phased and co-ordinated American withdrawal.  All of the neighboring countries, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines, with steady American encouragement, are resisting the aggrandizement of China, and it is being conducted in a traditional context of overly assertive statements and occasional angry encounters between small craft in the disputed waters, but without serious exchanges of fire or dire ultimatums.  Obama’s hackneyed “pivot to Asia” has so far consisted in sending 50 Marines to Darwin, Australia and promotion of the Trans-Pacific trade pact, which excludes China, and whose immediate political future is problematical.  In Europe, the United States has withdrawn probably 90% of the military forces it had stationed in Western Europe at the height of the Cold War, and the Russian borders have effectively receded over 2,000 kilometers from the western tip of the former East Germany to the contested eastern border of Ukraine with Russia itself.  No one could imagine a Russian military threat to the old NATO powers in Western Europe.  However, the irresolution of the American position over the former republics of the Soviet Union is abetting the expansionist ambitions of revanchist Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who naturally, like most of his countrymen, has not philosophically accepted the dissolution of the Russian overlordship of half of the former Soviet population.  In the Middle East, we are completing the unwinding of colonialism.  The Ottoman occupation of most of the region, followed by the Anglo-French carve-up after World War I, followed by the fluid and generally ineffectual manipulations of the great powers, is giving way to some sort of messy and infinitely slow demarcation between Saudi Arabia as protector of the Gulf states, Iran as lord of the Shiites, and Turkey and Egypt controlling most of the Sunni territory.  Israel is finally being seen as a side-show by almost everyone except the die-hard Palestinian Kool-Aid drinkers.  The region’s whipping boy, the Kurds, will have to be conceded some extent of autonomy. This process of regional evolution will continue, erratically and violently, until some sort of stasis is achieved.  In Latin America, once the Cold war ended, the United States relaxed vigilance creating a vacuum anyone bothersome would occupy.  However Obama then ignored leftist regimes that would formerly have provoked apoplexy in the State Department and the Congress: Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.  He then reopened relations with Cuba, getting nothing in return, and has watched almost bemusedly as the Brazilian democratic left has cracked up the economy and political credibility of that magnificent country.  To return to the beginning, the United States must define and make clear what it regards as its security interests, and assist forces and countries it finds amenable to replace it on the ground in the regions outside the Americas.  It then should assure it has the military capability to enforce those interests, and deal with whatever budgetary problems remain with a combination of entitlement reform, administrative streamlining, and increased consumption taxes.  What President Eisenhower said in the midst of the Cold War remains true: “The cost of successful national defense is high, but the cost of failure is everything.

(“The U.S. must define its security interests, and assure it has military capability to enforce them” by Conrad Black dated November 14, 2015 published by National Post at http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/conrad-black-the-united-states-must-define-its-security-interests-and-assure-it-has-the-military-capability-to-enforce-them )

 

There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news.  I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning.  No updates made this week to the issue sections.

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/