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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Greenfield’

The End Of The American Presidency

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

The American presidency came to an end on October 15, 1992 during a Town Hall debate between President George H.W, Bush, Ross Perot and Bill Clinton. The stage seemed more like a place for Phil Donahue to strut around, biting his lips and dragging out tawdry tales for audience applause than for three presidential candidates to discuss the future of the country.

The audience had more in common with the ones that usually showed up to cheer or boo Phil’s guests, and the high point of the evening and the end of the presidency came when one of those guests rose and, with the distinctive, painstakingly slurred pronunciation of the semi-literate, demanded that the candidates tell her how the “national debt” had affected them personally.

Bush stumblingly tried to turn her stupidity into some kind of policy question, but the World War II veteran was completely out of his depth in the Donahue talk-show format. The moderator, however, demanded that he answer how it had affected him personally. Forget the country or the consequences; feelings mattered more than policy.

It was a Phil Donahue moment and the Donahue candidate stepped into the spotlight.

Bill Clinton understood the audience member did not have a clue about what the national debt was. But he also knew it didn’t matter. This wasn’t about the facts, this was an “I Feel” moment. The questioner did not want to know how a problem would be solved, only that the people on top “cared” about her, and Clinton did what he did best – he told her he really cared.

George W. Bush made sure he would never repeat his father’s mistake. He ran as the “compassionate conservative” and a “uniter, not a divider.” He ran as the man who could never be caught flat-footed by an “I Feel” question. Bush II always felt things and insisted on sharing them with us.

The American presidency had exited the age of policy and entered the age of empathy. Competency no longer mattered. The man in the gray flannel suit who understood the issues had no place on the stage. To get there he would have to get in touch with his inner child and talk about it. He would have to spill his feelings so that people really believed he cared.

Without October 15, 1992, there would have been no Clinton. And without Clinton there would have been no Obama. The Democrats had nominated questionable men before, but they came with the patina of experience and credibility. Even the sleaziest and least experienced Democratic president, JFK, had spent decades polishing his resume and countering his weak points in a calculated plan to get to the top. But the sleazy Clinton grinned his way through primaries no one took seriously because the Democrats didn’t believe Bush could be beaten in ’92 and then felt his way through a national election. It was a small step for one man but a giant step for tricksters everywhere with charisma and no ethics.

The current qualifications for an office holder include the ability to chat on “The View,” read Top Ten lists for David Letterman and make fun of yourself on “Saturday Night Live.” Most of all it’s the ability to emote in public.

Bush I was unable to cross the “I” bridge. Obama lives under the “I” bridge. Even more than Clinton, he is the “I” candidate. Conservatives assail him for egotism, but it’s the lightning in the bottle of modern politics. Only the truly self-centered can fully emote to the back rows. It’s a skill common to egocentrics who feel their own pain so loudly they can make it seem like your pain.

Bill Clinton did not feel the pain of his Town Hall questioner or anyone else’s. He made us feel his pain, but mostly he made us feel his undiluted joy at running things and being the center of attention. That was why so many people loved him and still love him.

Clinton made it inevitable that the perfect “I” president would appear to live his life in public, offering constant coverage of his life, his tastes, his family, his pets and his thoughts on every subject. He would not be a private man, he would be a public spectacle. He would be able to talk about himself, not only at debates, but all the time. He would always be an “I” and the Phil Donahue audience would live through him, feel his pain, share his joys and cheer him on in the great collective noise of a celebrity and the fans who live for and through him.

Universal Education or Universal Competence?

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Education was the defining paradigm of the 20th Century model of social progress, particularly the scientific education distributed through cells and classes where trained educators teach from prepared texts imparting the same knowledge to every students through the same methods.

Our educational system is nothing if not extensive. We, collectively and individually, spend fortunes on it. The average cost of a four year degree is approaching 100,000 dollars and that isn’t counting textbooks (1,100 per year) and the astronomical rates of interest on student loans. Total student loan debt has doubled in the last seven years and is approaching 300 billion dollars. The average student under 30 owes around 20,000 dollars as education has become the new mortgage.

Senior citizens who came of age in the age when college became universalized are having their social security payments reduced to cover their student loan debts proving that a college education really does last for a lifetime.

The individual expenses for an education are trivial compared to the collective burden. The budget for New York City’s Department of Education is 24.4 billion dollars. That is nearly the GDP of Vermont being expended on the schools of a single city. It’s the GDP of 60 percent of the countries on the planet being shoveled into a single school system of 1.1 million children under the banner of “Children First” that amounts to 40 percent of the city budget.

New York spends 11,572 dollars per pupil. For now the home of Wall Street can afford this kind of insane waste, closing the budget shortfall by finding a way to impose a 300 million or 500 million dollar fine on a major bank or brokerage. Most other places can’t. Across the river, New Jersey’s disastrous schools are bleeding taxpayers dry with murderous property taxes to fund failing schools.

The same story is repeated across the nation where homeowners are bled to fund swollen pension funds and failing urban schools. Gimmicks such as “weighed student funding” are used to divert as much money as possible from successful local schools to unsuccessful urban schools. People are losing their homes so that another high school in Newark can roll out more afterschool programs and Michelle Obama’s idea of nutritious lunches.

Politicians take for granted that education is the road to empowerment and equality. Obama has read poems off his teleprompter about the wonders of education as the only means of ensuring “our” children’s future. There is nothing revolutionary about that. Every politician takes it for granted that education means empowerment. But does it really?

Universal education was the panacea of every socialist state. By NEA rankings the Soviet Union had a better education system than we do. Its system routed as much of the population as possible through higher education and degree mills making it better educated, on paper, than the Yankee running dogs of the decadent West. And yet the USSR was behind the United States in every possible area of life.

The more you universalize education, the lower the value of that education becomes. When the goal of education is not to teach, but to graduate, then the educational system becomes a cattle run which exists only to move students through the system and then out the door through classroom promotion. The High School education of today is inferior to the Elementary School education of yesterday and the four year college graduate of today couldn’t even begin to match wits with a high school graduate from 1946. College has become the new High School. Graduate school is the new college. If we keep following the European model, then two decades from now, everyone will be encouraged to get a Master’s Degree which will be the prerequisite for most jobs and also be completely worthless.

The current model is that the more education you have, the better you are and the better that the society you live in will be. Everyone is expected to finish High School and as many as possible are encouraged to go to college, even if they’ll die before they pay off the student debt and even if more people go bankrupt subsidizing other people’s education. And at some point when everyone has six years of higher education, we’ll have a utopia of flying cars, glowing sidewalks in the sky and 5 minute tours of the moon.

Party of Trolls: How Race Dominates U.S. Politics

Friday, August 31st, 2012

With the next four years at stake, the only topic of conversation is the Race Card. The left plays the Race Card and then accuses the right of playing the Race Card. There are dogwhistles in the air that only white middle-aged pundits can hear and arguments over whose diverse lineup truly represents the philosophy of the future and whose is just shameless tokenism.

The media madhouse insists that a half-black man who went from the Illinois State Senate to the White House in 5 years is proof that we are a racist country and that Southern Europeans whose ancestors moved to this continent are an oppressed racial minority. Arguing with this insanity is a sure way to get called a racist. Ignoring this insanity means being charged with privilege. Privilege being the ungodly power to ignore someone else’s assertion that privilege through victimization should begin and end every single discussion on every topic, up to and including the moon landing.

The Democratic Party and its media affiliates have become a party of trolls who only know how to hijack every discussion with an obsessive insistence that every issue can be boiled down to race and that the difference between the two parties is that one of them is racist and the other has good taste in fonts.

It’s hard to know what the Democratic Party stands for anymore. All we know is that it is against racism. Never before has an entire election been run around a single negative issue that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual challenges facing the country. Instead we have the national spectacle of members of minority groups being pitted against each other by two parties to prove which of them is less racist.

There is no precedent for a country facing two major crises, an economic depression and a war at the same time, holding an election that is somehow about race. If we’re going to make the 2012 election about race, then we might as well also make it about childhood obesity, green energy and all the other idiocies of a failed administration that can’t tie its shoes without a bailout.

For the last three years, the left has responded to every criticism of their candidate, their party and their incompetence by bleating about racism, as if having a black candidate and a large share of the black vote makes them honorary minorities. And as if their bleating had anything to do with real issues like the unsustainable national debt and an economy that still can’t get back on its feet.

The left imagines that it is somehow better than the lunatics of the Westboro Baptist Church who randomly show up at funerals screaming about homosexuality. It’s not. Not when its members show up randomly brandishing nooses or dressing up as body parts and screaming about racism or sexism. There’s no hint of responsible leadership in tactics like that. It’s the behavior of a debating club loser who has memorized only one winning point and will shout it no matter what the issue is.

Everyone wants to prove that their ideology, whether it’s showing up in the country with 50 cents and becoming successful by building a business or showing up in the country with 50 cents and becoming successful by getting a Ford Foundation grant to community organize the hell out of a local group, is universal and can apply to everyone regardless of skin color, gender, religion or fashion sense. And once we’ve done that, it still falls to us to deal with problems that depend on math, not race.

The real issue at stake here is whether the working class will end up being squeezed out by the government class. It’s an issue that affects the rich, poor and middle class alike, and the Republicans are coming dangerously close to articulating it in between applause breaks. The Democrats would like to avoid this line of conservation as much as possible, because once the debate is fully underway, Americans will start assessing their individual economic stakes in the fight, instead of assuming that their economic interest is joined at the hip to their racial identity, gender or choice of bed partners.

Tours For Israel-Hating Leftists

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

The Gaza flotilla and the flytilla may have been failures, but they were also missed opportunities for Israel. It’s no secret that a portion of Israel’s tourist trade comes from “protest tourism” – philosophy students and poetry Ph.D.s who want a chance to visit the Holy Land, throw some rocks at a soldier and have their pictures taken with AK-47-wielding terrorists. And it’s time the Israeli tourist industry took their business seriously.

Rather than profiling them and giving them the heave ho at the airport, why not develop special tourism packages catering to their needs? Imagine the possibilities:

The Rachel Corrie Experience: You’re angry at your parents. You’re angry at the world. You’re still angry at Bush. One time you saw a PBS documentary on Gaza and you said, “Man, are those people angry. But in a really deep and spiritual way.”

Pack your hemp sandals, your $259 sunglasses and get ready to fill your Flickr account with photos of underprivileged children.

Take off from San Francisco International Airport in a remodeled Tupolev Tu-114 aircraft that smells like gasoline and cow manure. As your body tries to decide whether it should pass out from the fumes or throw up from the turbulence, you will relish knowing you have left behind your comfortable life and will soon experience the agony of being in the Third World.

You land at Ben Gurion Airport, where you will be encouraged to yell “Power to the People” slogans at customs officials who will pretend not to understand what you are saying. If you cannot think of anything to yell, a booklet of slogans by a committee that includes Noam Chomsky, Tony Kushner and Norman Finkelstein will be provided for you.

Your accommodations will be a half-collapsed house with an Israeli bulldozer outside. With six to a room, your job will be to prevent the bulldozer from knocking over the house. At unpredictable times during the night the bulldozer will start up, and then you will be expected to run out of the house, screaming and waving your hands while shouting political slogans at it. The bulldozer will then usually stop. If it does not, you will be expected to lie in the mud while contemplating the geopolitics of the whole thing.

Sometime during the night, men will come through the tunnels in the house carrying mortar rounds and IEDs. You will be given 15 minutes to pose for pictures with them. These will look really good on your Facebook page, and your friends who went skiing or to build homes in Africa will be really jealous.

After three days of this, all while drinking stale water and eating old pita, you will be able to say you participated in the revolutionary struggle against Zionism. You may even get a Ph.D. thesis out of this, or at least a foreign correspondent post with Time magazine, which means you will be able to do this sort of thing full time. And even get paid for it.

The Alice Walker Excursion: You are a very deep person. People tell you this all the time, even when you don’t prompt them. Often you wish you’d been born earlier so that you could have participated in the great protest movements of the past.

In your deepest self you hate Israel, Coca Cola, nuclear power, country music, organized religion, people who don’t recycle, and Republicans, in no particular order.

You leave on a boat from somewhere. Probably Mexico. Maybe Turkey. It’s still too early to tell. The boat will not be very good. It will lack a toilet. Occasionally you will have to row. On this cruise you will rub shoulders with authors like Alice Walker and Henning Mankell. If you are not abducted by Somali pirates, you should be approaching the coast of Gaza in 6-8 weeks. Possibly more if you took a wrong turn around Australia or Atlantis.

If your captain is not excessively stoned, he will successfully run the boat aground on the Gaza coast. You will be given one hour to pose for photographs with authentic Hamas terrorists and even hold their weapons. If you do not yet have a keffiyah, one will be provided for you.

After this, you will be arrested by the authorities for illegal entry. You will be given 15 minutes to be photographed struggling with them in heroic poses. If your poses are not heroic, it’s your own fault.

It All Comes Down To How Liberal You Are

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

The common wisdom is that CNN’s Rick Sanchez was fired because he made anti-Semitic remarks. That’s an understandable assumption, but it’s also untrue. Sanchez was fired because he attacked a celebrity more liberal and more popular than he is. That he did it with racial overtones made it easy for CNN to pull the plug on him. But his real crime was that he had become an embarrassment, from a liberal perspective, and that’s the only perspective in the media that counts.

Let’s imagine that Sanchez was a trendy liberal comedian with his own influential show and Jon Stewart, the subject of his remarks, was just another CNN talking head. In that case, Sanchez could have said the same thing about the Jews and it would have been a laugh line. He would have kept his job and Stewart would have been at risk of losing his, despite being the goat. Because this isn’t about Jews, it’s about liberals controlling the license to be bigots.

Absent in the media after the firing of Sanchez were the defensive reactions of the sort that followed the earlier termination of CNN’s Octavia Nasr or the disgrace of Helen Thomas. There was little ambiguity in the reporting. Sanchez was bad and had to go. But Sanchez’s remarks were certainly not unique. The director Oliver Stone said much worse things not too long ago, suggesting the “Jewish dominated media”overemphasizes the Holocaust. And for that he wasn’t removed from any projects or otherwise inconvenienced. What’s the difference between Oliver Stone and Rick Sanchez? Stone’s liberal credentials are unimpeachable.

If you’re a liberal, you’re allowed to be racist toward people less liberal than you. Had Sanchez accused Jews of running the media and of suppressing negative stories about Israel or promoting a negative view of Obama because they’re racists, there would have been talk of how courageous he was in tackling controversial issues. Those comments are completely false, of course, but they would have played into a liberal worldview.

Instead, Sanchez talked about the Jews controlling the media in relation to himself. Which might have been acceptable if he had some serious liberal credentials and if he hadn’t been blasting Jon Stewart, whose own liberal credentials far exceed his. Liberal media personalities routinely make racist and sexist remarks and get away with it. They only get in trouble when they target someone more liberal than them or when their own liberal creds are wanting.

Sanchez’s mistake was overestimating his place in the liberal ecosystem. He assumed that because he had blasted the Tea Party movement, and called Hispanics who work for Fox News sellouts, he had the same status as Stewart. That was a mistake, one he paid for dearly. Stewart outdraws Sanchez as a liberal opinion-maker by a factor of 10 to 1. Picking between Sanchez and Stewart was a no-brainer for CNN. Not because Sanchez was bigoted, but because he wasn’t liberal enough.

The reaction to Sanchez had nothing to do with Jews and everything to do with liberalism. Had he gone after The New Republic’s Martin Peretz, who has been critical of Obama, he would have been fine. Had he claimed Jews pushed America into the war in Iraq, he would have been expressing a sentiment common among liberals. He had plenty of victims to choose from, but he picked someone with a higher liberal status than his. And so he got creamed.

Liberalism is a form of privilege. It means you belong to the political and cultural elite. It means you’re one of the gang. And it comes with its perks. One of those perks is the power to proclaim what behavior is culturally acceptable. By pretending to be warriors against racism, liberals have been able to define what racism is (thoughts or statements attributed to people less liberal than they are) and what it isn’t (thoughts or statements attributed to people as liberal as – or even moreliberal than – they are).

Rick Sanchez falsely attributed Jon Stewart’s sense of privilege to Stewart’s Jewishness rather than his liberalism. And as stupid as that was, it was the smarter thing to do. Sanchez was fired, but he’s still employable. Had he talked about liberal control of the media the way Bernard Goldberg has, he would be unemployable on any major news network outside of Fox News.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/it-all-comes-down-to-how-liberal-you-are/2010/10/20/

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