Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review like a new poll showing Hillary Clinton losing badly to all four top GOP candidates in Colorado.  They also discuss multiple reports of Syrians fraudulently posing as refugees in an effort to reach the U.S.  And they enjoy the demand of student protesters that Princeton scrub all references to former Pres. Woodrow Wilson.

The Truth About Relativism, and the Neopuritans on Campus

 

shutterstock_238305598Just as the sacraments are an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace, so is irrational activism an obnoxious and virulent sign of inner spiritual torment. Rational activism is sober, respectful, and seeks to convince; the irrational activism we’re seeing today is meant partly to intimidate and mostly to make the activists feel better about themselves. Today’s college students are among the most privileged people in human history, which is perhaps why they regularly command others to check their privilege. A century ago — when the finest colleges were the preserve of white gentile men — the most privileged Yale man had neither smart phone nor Google. He lacked million dollar sports facilities and the Internet. But he had something that today’s students lack: a confident faculty that had the discipline to impress thousands of years of civilization into their students’ souls, transforming them from children into adults.

Childhood should be a time of play, and we regularly make exceptions for children’s misbehavior that we wouldn’t tolerate in adults. That means that we don’t call the cops when a two year old has a temper tantrum in the grocery store or when ten year olds scuffle and wind up with bloody noses. But we do call the cops when twenty-year-olds behave thus. It’s only natural for children to want to stay in the Edenic state of freedom from responsibility. But it’s the job of their parents to see that children learn that only with responsibility comes any measure of freedom. And it is the job of the university to continue this civilizing process with a liberal education: making citizens fit for liberty. By infantilizing their students, the universities have failed in their duty.

It is fair to compare the protesting students to spoiled children because spoiled children are rarely so happy as those with loving but strict parents. By surrendering to the unreasoning whims of their loudest and least rational students, the colleges are flunking. Indeed, they’re like the uncle who gives visiting children nothing to eat but candy and then sends the children home to their unsuspecting parents. Only in this case, the country at large is the parents, and we know all too well what’s going on.

Spineless Leadership at Yale

 

shutterstock_292573991When Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, my many progressive friends frequently reassured me that his presidency would mark a transformation of race relations in the United States. That prediction has proved half true. Things have surely changed in the last seven years — but for the worse. Racial tension and discord has gone way up, resentments have increased, and the levels of violence, confrontation, incivility, and ill-will have risen, taking an immense toll on our political and social institutions. Throughout all of this turmoil, the President has largely remained aloof, even though strong leadership is urgently needed to stand up against the radicals attacking our social institutions.

Yet another example of how not to handle race relations came recently from Yale University, where I attended law school some fifty years ago in another period of national racial tension and unrest. The incidents surrounding the wearing of Halloween costumes at Yale has been well critiqued, but needs to be set into a larger perspective.

The incident began with an email from Yale’s Intercultural Affairs Committee, which advised students to be aware of the risk of “cultural appropriation and misrepresentation” by such acts as “wearing feathered headdresses, turbans, wearing ‘war paint’ or modifying skin tone or wearing blackface or redface.” The letter goes on to pay lip service to freedom of speech even as it decries these various forms of social insensitivity. A letter of this sort from an official body carries more than a hint of official disapproval of actions that do not toe the line.

A New College President’s First Address

 

shutterstock_261537968In a previous message, An Open Letter to Concerned Student 1950, I offered some comments about student protesters at Missouri’s flagship university, suggesting that in some academic hideaway, there might be a leader who wouldn’t put up with their rebellious ways. I signed the message, “A Concerned American, from a few generations in the past.”

However, let us suppose that such a person did magically show up, say, as a newly appointed interim-president charged with the task of dealing with contumacious crowds bent on taking over the university. As a public service, I offer the following comments for this individual’s first address to fellow administrators, faculty, and students:

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Hire Those Brats! I’m Serious!

 

Do I really need to describe this? We all know what’s happening on college campuses. Whining, coddled, over-sensitive little brats demanding this and that, weeping over emails, that sort of thing.

And one of the more popular responses is — at least from folks who are roughly aligned with our point of view — Hey, those kids are in for a rude awakening and Who on earth is going to hire those entitled brats?

Snowflakes or Fascists?

 

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There was a much beloved quote circulated among leftists, often attributed to Sinclair Lewis, that “when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” In light of recent episodes of mob action on American campuses, the quote needs updating: When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in “diversity” and demanding “safe spaces.”

Demand is the key word. It marks the essential authoritarianism at work here. At the University of Missouri, students “demanded” that (now former) university president Tim Wolfe write a “handwritten” letter of apology acknowledging his “white, male privilege.” Among his alleged sins was apparently not doing enough to shield so-called “marginalized students” from feeling upset after a black criminal, Michael Brown, was killed by the police officer he had assaulted. Another sin was driving away when a mob surrounded his car at homecoming festivities. Wolfe has since apologized, groveled (“my apology is long overdue”), and resigned. Good riddance.

Mitch Daniels: The Grown-up in the Room

 

MITCH DANIELSThe modern American university seems to be devolving into a madhouse. Students shrieking about “safe spaces,” refusing to attend classes, demanding the mass firing of staff, and urging restrictions on free speech. Kids will be kids, yes? But in many cases, the adults in the faculty are acting as bad or worse than the children. Yale officials publicly denounce themselves, Mizzou officials resign in fear, and the pluckier professors are leading the confused students in protest.

Thankfully, not everyone has lost their mind. Former Indiana Governor and current President of Purdue University Mitch Daniels decided to take a stand for common sense. He sent the following letter to everyone on campus Wednesday:

To the Purdue community.

An Open Letter to Concerned Student 1950

 

151109091618-01-mizzou-protest-1109-large-169To the aggrieved members of Concerned Student 1950:

Thanks to the Internet and several dozen members of the Concerned Students 1950 movement, I am in receipt of your list of demands for changes to take place at your beloved university. Let me begin by suggesting that hurling a list of demands and expecting people to address them is not really the way that responsible grown-ups deal with important questions. Typically, we agree to abide by certain rules that govern civilized dialogue, which include, for instance, that there should be no shouting, spitting, screaming threats, disrupting campus activities, throwing dangerous objects, calling for “muscle” to prevent others from participating, leaving disgusting human debris on the beautiful campus, or otherwise engaging in other activities that stifle the free exchange of ideas. That, of course, is just the short list.

I suppose the first thing to notice is that you succeeded in forcing the resignation of the university president, which I take as more of a statement about the cowardice of academic leadership in our time than a vindication of your methods. However, you’re probably right in assuming that mobs of students and faculty at other academic institutions will mimic your approach, though much to the detriment of maintaining civilized society. Still, don’t count on it. There may be lurking in some academic hideaway a leader with the fortitude required to stand up to student-faculty mobs screaming, 1960s-style, lists of non-negotiable demands. And when that happens, the entire house of cards embodied in your actions will collapse.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Ian Tuttle of National Review cheer the decision from a federal appeals court ruling that Pres. Obama did not have the authority to take unilateral action on immigration last year.  They also cringe as a Jeb Bush Super PAC targets Marco Rubio for being too pro-life.  And they unload on the insanity at the University of Missouri.

Video: Mizzou Protest Shuts Down First Amendment

 

A young photojournalist tried to do his job today and take pictures of a protest movement roiling the University of Missouri. The protest, named #ConcernedStudent1950, complains of institutionalized racism at the Mizzou campus and society at large. Their disruption has gotten so bad, the university president decided to resign earlier today. Since this is obviously news, sympathetic reporters are there to spread the protesters’ progressive message. Unfortunately for the journalists, Mizzou doesn’t seem to teach its students about the First Amendment.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Ian Tuttle of National Review cheer Ben Carson for calling out the media’s frothing pursuit of his record but also chide Carson for being sloppy with the facts on some key moments in his life.  They also shudder as Hillary Clinton suggests she would use the military much like President Obama does but take some solace in knowing she is probably lying.  And they slam Yale University for apologizing that students don’t have enough “safe spaces.”

The Theater of White Guilt

 

1447095148_tim-wolfe-lgThe President of the University of Missouri resigned in a dramatic, televised speech this morning. He must have done something really bad, right? If you’re like many people out there, you may be reading the news articles trying to figure out exactly what the bad thing was.

We are told there is a racial controversy at the university. Did the president get caught using the “N” word? Did he fire someone due to her skin color? Was he outed as a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan?

Answer: None of the above. Mizzou’s ousted president, Tim Wolfe, seems to have been forced out of his half-million dollar per year job — not for what he did, but rather for what he didn’t do.

Trouble in the Progressive Utopia

 

imageAsk a liberal to describe his ideal society, and you won’t have to wait long to hear about everyone attending a four-year college and being subsequently rewarded with a high-paying job in the professions, or the high-tech or service industries (and commuting to work via public public transit, of course). No place in the country is this closer to reality than Massachusetts, which is, unsurprisingly, where many of the people who peddle this vision get started on the path they think everyone else should take. Overall, it’s worked out reasonably well here: the Greater Boston Area may be expensive and the state may be highly regulated, but it out-preforms the nation on a number of economic metrics and is a growing leader in the technology, healthcare, biotech, and education industries; the I-495 corridor is awash in construction, development, and expansion much of it in the aforementioned glitzy industries. We’re not quite Scandinavia, but we try.

But according the Boston Globe, there seems to be a problem: we’re seriously short of people with vocational skills:

Most of the projected job openings in Massachusetts over the next seven years will not require a four-year college degree, but an already strained vocational education system will be unable to train enough people to fill those vacancies, according to a report to be released Monday. It warns that the state faces severe labor shortages in health care, manufacturing, and other key industries as an expanding economy and retiring baby boomers create some 1.2 million job openings by 2022.

Harvard Fellow Attends Anti-Police Brutality Conference … in Iran

 

Speaking of education, I caught Michael Totten’s latest column at World Affairs Journal about this group of twenty-odd American yo-yos who’ve gone to a conference in Iran against police brutality and racism. No, not Iranian policy brutality and racism. American police brutality and racism. Mike, reporting this with the journalistic equivalent of a straight face, notes that,

The Iranian government hunts down gay people and hangs them from cranes. It sends the Basij militia into the streets to attack peaceful protesters with clubs, chains, knives and axes. It routinely and as a matter of policy tortures liberal activists and intellectuals in Evin Prison.

Majoring in Positive Thinking

 

shutterstock_157494929These days, you can go to college for just about anything and get the government to underwrite and subsidize your loan, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. As Megan McArdle writes, there’s a case to be made for some public financing of education:

There is actually some economic logic to encouraging people to borrow money for school. Education is an investment in human capital, and expensive capital goods are often financed. Doing so makes everyone better off: The lender gets a tidy return, and because the borrowers increase their ability to make money, they can make their interest payments and still be richer than they would have been if they’d painstakingly saved up the money for 10 or 20 years before making the investment.

The problem isn’t that a liberal arts education is a bad idea, let alone one opposed to the public interest. If we stipulate that earning a liberal arts degree confers critical thinking and writing skills as well as a deeper understanding of one’s culture and history — as, indeed, some still do — then it’s trivially easy to see how that knowledge and those skills would benefit society at large, at least in the aggregate. In economic terms, there’s little question that a good liberal arts education has positive externalities.

Serious Wisdom from John Ratzenberger

 

439px-JohnRatzenberger08RIIFFJohn Ratzenberger was one of the first people I met on my first day in show business. For those of you under, say, 40, he played Cliff Clavin, the talkative fantasist letter carrier on Cheerswhich was my first job as a professional writer. (For those of you who would like to contribute to the Rob Long Residual Fund, feel free to buy the entire series here.) He was a lovely and smart guy back then. He still is. Here is his latest column for Time, in which he expounds on a subject he’s deeply passionate about:

The whole process of knowing how to make things, fix things and build things, fascinated me to the point that, by the time I was 14 years old, I had decided that I wanted to learn how to build a house and everything in it. In fact, I built the first couch I ever owned for my first real apartment. It may not have won any beauty contests, but it sure was comfortable. I ultimately saw my childhood goal of building a house come to fruition, many times over, while working as a house-framer before I landed the role of “Cliff” on Cheers.

Read the whole thing, but here’s the kicker:

The Ricochet Tutoring Network

 

cat writingSo here’s an idea I’ve been mulling over for a few weeks. We have so many people here with specialized academic or professional knowledge, and so many people with kids. Many of our members homeschool, and many have kids who probably, every now and again, need help with their homework, or tutoring in subjects that aren’t their parents’ strong suit.

I’ve been interested for years in the potential of ed tech and online learning. My friend Nick Booker convinced me when I visited him in India that education is the missing link in the network effect: For social media we have Facebook and Twitter; for shopping we have Amazon; for payments we have PayPal; but online learning is still in its infancy. One thing’s for sure: That higher-ed bubble is going to burst. Parents are increasingly concerned about the nonsense their kids get taught in public schools. If I were a parent, I reckon the last place I’d want my kids to waste years of their youths and hundreds of thousands of dollars is the modern American university, taking classes like this. That means there’s a huge niche to exploit in online learning.

The-Power-of-a-Positive-Online-Classroom-Culture-300x220I’ve been following companies like Coursera, Udacity, TutorVista, and Tutor.com, and they’re off to a great start. But I think we have the resources on Ricochet to do something even better. Not even the best online course can replace a personal relationship with a vetted, trusted teacher who can go through the exercises with the student, get to know him or her, figure out how she or he learns, and get him or her excited about a subject.

Show Me the Man, and I’ll Show You the Crime

 

new-exoplanet-is-a-virtual-twin-of-earthThe deepest mystery of the Great Purge remains, in my mind, the eagerness of the victims to confess. What prompted these men to say these things?

“I Kamenev, together with Zinoviev and Trotsky, organised and guided this conspiracy. My motives? I had become convinced that the party’s – Stalin’s policy – was successful and victorious. We, the opposition, had banked on a split in the party, but this hope proved groundless. We could no longer count on any serious domestic difficulties to allow us to overthrow Stalin’s leadership. We were actuated by boundless hatred and by lust of power.”

Gudrun Persson accounts thus for the phenomenon: