Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hooking Trump with Humor

“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”

--Mark Twain

“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.”

--Ludwig Wittgenstein

There is growing fear Trump will win the GOP nomination. Look at the latest National Review special issue “Against Trump,” with 22 writers collectively saying, “it can’t be!” I didn’t read the 22, but the accompanying editorial, which I did read, was very serious. Very worried. No laughing matter.

What’s funny, though is National Review upset with Trump because he isn’t “conservative” enough. This from a magazine that four years ago had a cover article pushing “I’m seriously conservative” Mitt Romney of Romneycare fame, the progressive health plan that begot Obamacare. Chutzpah, National Review.

The serious folks at National Review and the GOP establishment miss what’s happened with the electorate. Voters no longer take their cues from Big Cheeses and their media poobahs. Democrats got their news from Jon Stewart until he departed. Now Republicans have warmed to Trump, the reality TV star who so effectively cuts up the fancy-pants crowd. The busy, easily distracted masses want to be entertained, and Trump makes them laugh. Trump is a funny guy, at least until the joke’s on you.

So how does one beat Trump? Fight humor with humor. And Matt Labash at the Weekly Standard has done just that in his Trump roast article, “Nine Tales of Trump at His Trumpiest.” You have got to read the entire article. In Labash, Trump has met his match (though few know).

Here’s a sample of Labash sarcasm:
what's not to love? There's the supermodel wife and the gold-covered "Trump"-embossed Boeing 757. There's the garishly decorated three-story Trump Tower penthouse that had a New Statesman writer, after a tour, calling Trump "a man whose front room proved that it really was possible to spend a million dollars in Woolworth's." There's that hair that looks like a mac-'n'-cheese-colored nutria that was hit by an oil truck. There's the permanent pucker, which at rest makes Trump look like a puzzled duck working out long-division problems in its head.
And who doesn't admire his fiscal conservatism? ("The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes.") His impeccable manners? (To Larry King: "Do you mind if I sit back a little? Because your breath is very bad.") His commitment to diversity? ("I have a great relationship with the blacks.") Who couldn't appreciate the executive know-how and tested mettle that come from telling La Toya Jackson "you're fired" on Celebrity Apprentice?
Not surprisingly, half the chuckles coming from Labash’s roasting of Trump are Trump’s own words. The guy is funny. And humor is powerful.

Take “You’re fired!” That Trump line swept America 12 years ago. It was fun watching puffed-up people go down. We loved it!

But then take Trump’s "I have a great relationship with the blacks." Here’s how New York-accented Trump could not only win -- as he claims he will -- white working class votes in the otherwise Democratic Northeastern U.S., but also pull votes from Democrats’ overwhelming black voter base.

Barbara Jordan, the first Southern black female elected to the House, capped her career chairing the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. Few remember her commission recognized that “Immigration policy must protect U.S. workers against unfair competition from foreign workers, with an appropriately higher level of protection for the most vulnerable in our society.”  Jordan was defending our working class, most especially blacks. Such workers, no matter the color of their skin, seem likely to welcome Trump bashing illegal immigrants willing to work for less.

"I have a great relationship with the blacks" may not prove so funny after all.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Obama embraces nationalism, ignores jihad.

For Obama, Churchill was a bust.
Barack Obama said at the outset of his presidency, "I believe in American Exceptionalism just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Obama’s anti-jingoism seemingly identifies him with one-worldism, the opposite of nationalism that unites a country against its foreign enemy.

In truth, Obama is a nationalist. The “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” (Panchsheel, Sanskrit for “five virtues”) came from the 1954 peace treaty between India and China, and were enshrined at the 1955 Bandung, Indonesia conference of non-aligned nations hosted by Indonesia’s President Sukarno. Bung Karno’s Bandung speech substituted the old Javanese term pancasila (also from Sanskrit) for the original.

The pancasila of “mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence” were really about allowing each nation to run itself free of outside interference. Pancasila provided an ideological blanket over insecure, first-generation nationalists who having won independence from colonial domination, feared the threat Western power plus internal opposition in the name of democracy posed to their rule. Pancasila meant primacy of the nation-state over both external and internal dangers. And what’s nationalism if not a strengthened nation-state?

Obama’s foreign policy respects each nation’s territorial integrity, opposes interference in another nation’s internal affairs, and wants all nations treated equally, all cooperating for mutual benefit and peace. Obama’s not an enemy of Israel as long as Israel treats Palestine and Iran in line with pancasila, and he’s not opposed to Iran, Shia Iraq, Taliban Afghanistan, Syria, Russia, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, or any other dictatorship. Obama is a child of the non-aligned movement, reserving his hostility for American imperialism sold as “nation building,” and hostile to any Western empire-restoring efforts, however disguised.

So one of Obama’s first presidential acts was sending back to Britain the bust of Winston Churchill that country gave the White House. Churchill was indeed “Biography’s” #1 person who changed the 20th century, but Churchill was also a staunch defender of a British empire that included the Kenyan birthplace of Obama’s father. Furthermore, Britain gave Churchill’s bust to George W. Bush when Bush became president. For Obama, it's nationalism over imperialism; Barack over Bush.

Trouble is, Obama’s strong identification with pancasila doesn’t fit today’s world, where our greatest threat comes from Islamic extremism that scorns national borders. As with progressivism which has led at home to an ossified Big Government blocking economic progress, Obama’s foreign policy nationalism is out of date; hurting both America and the world’s people.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Blog at 10: Jihad Trumps World Peace

Heart of the Ummah
This blog began 10 years ago, hoping that the Western ideas of capitalism and democracy would help generate universal peace. At the time, the U.S. was locked in a difficult, ultimately hopeless effort to launch an independent, democratic Iraq at the Middle East’s center. In Iraq and elsewhere since 2006, hopes for peace smacked head-on into Islamic terror.

Mao Zedong taught that “the guerrilla must move among the people as a fish swims in the sea.” Islamic terrorists are today’s fish, and they exist in the Islamic ummah’s vast sea. Muslims at 1.6 billion make up 22% of the world, and are the planet’s fastest-growing faith. They are found on all continents though most numerous in Asia (chart: click to enlarge), with their greatest concentration running Pakistan through North Africa (above map).

From 1648 through the late 20th century, nationalism beginning with the Treaty of Westphalia grew to dominate the world, symbolized by the United Nations and its nearly 200 member-states. Nationalism first replaced the Church, then overturned European colonialist empires.

Today, however, the super-national ummah threatens nationalism, even as movements centered in Iran (Shia), Syria-Iraq (ISIS) and Saudi Arabia (Sunni) compete for control.

In fact, three developments in the late 1930s transformed the face of Islam, giving birth to the tensions today’s ummah generates. First, Nazi persecution of German Jews led to a sharp increase in British-governed Palestine’s Jewish population. Alarmed, Palestine’s Arabs demanded popular rule through a legislative council. Jews, fearing Arab domination, rejected the proposal, which led to the 1936-39 Arab rebellion and to the 1948 folly of partitioning Palestine into Israeli and Arab areas.  

Second, in 1938 CALTEX geologists discovered the world’s largest oil reserves in Saudi Arabia, which over time gave the Middle East’s Islamic leaders, including Iran’s, economic power all out of proportion to their numbers. In Palestine, the British feared siding against Arabs would cost them access to Middle East oil. Oil has similarly distorted U.S. and other great power policy toward the region.  

Third, when British India moving toward eventual independence held national elections in 1937, the victorious Congress Party refused a coalition with the Muslim League. The League responded by organizing India’s Muslim masses and in 1947 forcing India’s partition into separate Muslim and Hindu nations, a tragic event that resulted in 200,000 to 2 million deaths and the forcible relocation of 14 million, the largest mass migration in history. Today nearly one-third of the world’s Muslims, many radicalized by their region’s communal violence, live in the Indian subcontinent.

A history of Islamic terrorism since 1947-48 partitions of India and Palestine includes the bloody 1954-62 Algerian fight for independence, Robert Kennedy’s assassination in 1968, airline hijackings from 1968 on, the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, the virtual destruction of Lebanon in 1975-90, the Iranian revolution and occupation of U.S. Embassy Tehran in 1979, the successful effort to drive the U.S.S.R. from Afghanistan in 1979-89, assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981, Hezbollah’s birth and its subsequent destruction of the Beirut U.S. marine barracks in 1983, PLO hijacking the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985, the rise of Hamas, its control in Gaza and use of suicide bombers starting in 1987, the bloody Chechen wars in 1991-94 and 1999-2000, the rise of al Qaeda starting in 1993 culminating in the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center’s twin towers, Bali bombings in 2002, al Qaeda’s success in Iraq, especially with IEDs, in 2003-07, Madrid and London train bombings in 2004-05, the radicalization of Iran and its pursuit of nuclear weapons under Khamenei from 2005, the Mumbai killings in 2008, the Taliban’s renewal in Afghanistan since 2013, creation and expansion of ISIS from 2014 and its destructive impact on Syria and Iraq, the 2015 downing of a Russian commercial plane in the Sinai, the current unfolding of Islamic terrorism throughout Western Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, Southeast Asia, and worldwide.

It would be a mistake to underestimate the threat radical Islam’s jihad poses to world peace.  According to Princeton University Middle Eastern scholar Bernard Lewis, jihad is an unlimited offensive to bring the whole world under Islamic law. Lewis:
Even the Christian crusade, often compared with the Muslim jihad, was itself a delayed and limited response to the jihad and in part also an imitation. But unlike the jihad it was concerned primarily with the defense or reconquest of threatened or lost Christian territory...The Muslim jihad, in contrast, was. . . unlimited.
Lewis says Islam imposes, without limit of time or space, the duty to subjugate non-Muslims.
it is the duty of those who have accepted [Allah's word and message] to strive unceasingly to convert or at least to subjugate those who have not. . . It must continue until the whole world has either accepted the Islamic faith or submitted to the power of the Islamic state.
When Lewis talks about the “clash of civilizations,” he helps us understand how fully Islamic terrorism rejects the world we know. Osama bin Laden’s "Letter to America," answered the question, "What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you," with:
We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honor, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest (...) You separate religion from your policies, (...) You are the nation that permits Usury, which has been forbidden by all the religions (...) You are a nation that permits the production, trading and usage of intoxicants (...) You are a nation that permits acts of immorality (...) You are a nation that permits gambling in its all forms. (...) You use women to serve passengers, visitors, and strangers to increase your profit margins.
The Islamic sea is deep and wide; we must oppose its fish who favor death to peace.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Post-Obama, I Think I See the New GOP

President                           VP Haley                           Speaker Ryan
President Obama’s State of the Union address last night didn’t tell us where the nation really stands. But the event did offer hints of where his Republican opposition is going.

The President is a veteran campaigner accustomed to speaking to adoring crowds that include fan-filled bleachers behind him. Last night, the only people over his shoulders -- and both perched there the entire time -- were Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker Paul Ryan.

In a break with past precedent, Ryan almost never stood up or even applauded, even when Obama shouted out lines demanding approval. Ryan’s passive non-response was so strong it reduced Biden’s own standing and clapping.

With his actions, Ryan was telling watchers, “Our party has had it with you, Mr. President, and I stand firmly with my colleagues seated in front of you: good riddance!”

In fact, afterwords Ryan did say:
I wasn’t expecting much. As usual, the president tried to manage people’s perceptions instead of confronting reality: His policies aren’t working.
Ryan is the face of the new GOP--young, articulate, thoroughly conservative, and determined to turn the country away from Obama’s Big Government years.

Nikki Haley, even more than Ryan, is the face of where the GOP hopes to go. Haley gave the Republican response to Obama’s speech, remarks conservative guru Charles Krauthammer called, “the best written and best delivered answer to a State of the Union I have ever heard.”

Haley is a successful Southern governor (South Carolina), young, female, attractive, and from an Asian Indian immigrant family. And she’s a leading candidate for vice president on the GOP ticket.

Somewhat surprisingly, Haley was brave enough to reject Donald Trump’s effort to shock his way to the White House, telling her audience:
During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation. No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.
So Haley’s “one and done” with Trump, right? Not so fast. What will Trump do if he captures the GOP nomination? Come on, you know the answer! Reach for a young, attractive, female of color who doesn’t share his views on Mexicans and Muslims! Haley is smarter than all of us.

Anyway, it remains far from certain Trump will win the nomination. The GOP is in the midst of a bloody battle over its future, but one about how to respond to a single undisputed fact--our national elite has failed us.

As Yuval Levin, one of the brightest conservative voices, puts it in a recent National Review article:
The post-war American consensus has been fragmenting for decades, and the public’s loss of trust seems to be reaching a crisis point. [Republican] candidates offer different diagnoses of the problem and distinctly different prescriptions, but they are arguing about the same crisis of confidence. That they’re having this debate is on the whole a sign of strength, even if the outcome might not redound to the immediate benefit of Republicans.
The Democrats are not really engaged in this argument yet: All of them are proposing various policies that would require an enormous amount of public trust in our governing institutions and the elites who run them.
Whoever the GOP nominee turns out to be, he will welcome having Haley and Ryan at his side.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Progressive Paradox: The Asian Quota

New York City’s Stuyvesant High School

Meritocracy is America’s progressive elite’s central contradiction. Liberals are anti-capitalist, and in that respect, willing to recut the pie away from business success toward “equality” that sends resources to disadvantaged (mostly Democratic) voters.

Equality hits a wall, however, when it comes to academic achievement--the path to progressive advancement. It's true progressives do use a poorly-working “affirmative action” system to buy off future leaders of America’s disadvantaged groups.

But what about disadvantaged Asian-Americans? Part of the minority-based liberal coalition, Asian-Americans not only don’t need “affirmative action,” they increasingly realize “Asian quotas” are getting in their way.

In her article “From NYC to Harvard: the war on Asian success,” New York Post conservative Betsy McCaughey reports American teens rank 28th in math and science knowledge, compared with teens in other countries, with Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan at the top. And for the first time in 25 years, U.S. scores on the main test for elementary and middle school education fell, while SAT scores for college-bound students dropped significantly.

By contrast, Asian-American students, many from poor or immigrant families, outscore all other students by large margins, and their lead keeps widening. In New York City, Asian-Americans make up 13% of students, but win more than half of admissions to New York’s selective public high schools, including Bronx Science and Stuyvesant (picture).

It seems that cultural traditions demanding parental oversight of children’s studies best explain why Asian-American students far outperform others. It’s why today, many charter schools require parents to sign a pledge that they’ll supervise their children to completion of their homework.

But McCaughey had found
That formula is under fire at the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District in New Jersey. The [just-outside-Princeton] district, which is 65% Asian, routinely produces seniors with perfect SAT scores, admissions to MIT and top prizes in international science competitions.
So, McCaughey adds,
non-Asian parents are up in arms, complaining there’s too much pressure and their kids can’t compete. In response, this fall Superintendent David Aderhold apologized that school had become a “perpetual achievement machine.” [He] canceled accelerated and enriched math courses for fourth and fifth grades, which were 90% Asian, and eliminated midterms and finals in high school.
Using a word that already strikes terror in the hearts of Asian parents, he said schools had to take a “holistic” approach. That’s the same euphemism Harvard uses to limit the number of Asians accepted and favor non-Asians. Aderhold even lowered standards for playing in school music programs. Students have a “right to squeak,” he insisted.
McCaughey compares Plainsboro and Harvard to New York City, whose mayor, Bill de Blasio, wants to reduce the role competitive exams play in admitting students to the city’s top high schools in favor of “holistic” selections, thereby robbing poor, immigrant, first-generation Asians of their shot at world-class educations. Asian-American eighth-graders routinely practice for two years for the test, with parents in entry-level jobs paying for prep classes.  

Comment: In an ideal progressive world, a majority of voters would understand the need for a “brave new world” system where the best would ensure the masses’ happiness. Too bad democracy doesn’t work that way. The result is the hash our liberal elite has made of education at all levels.