Defending Totalitarians To Absolve Obama

Everyone knows that liberals sympathize with authoritarian and even totalitarian regimes around the world, but it’s still a shock when liberals explicitly defend tyranny. The latest example comes from Eugene Robinson, one of the opinion writers at the Washington Post, as he attempts to absolve President Obama from any blame in the current crisis in Iraq (see here).

Liberals like Robinson want us to remember that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney gave us the “cauldron of woe” in Iraq in the first place by launching the invasion of Iraq in 2003 without understanding or planning for the potential consequences:

The U.S. invasion toppled a Sunni dictatorship that had ruled brutally over Iraq’s other major groups — the Shiite majority and the ethnic Kurds — for decades. It seems not to have occurred to anyone planning the invasion that long-suppressed resentments and ambitions would inevitably surface.

As Robinson sees it, the marginalization of groups by a U.S. backed Shiite-dominated government after the demise of Saddam has angered and alienated Iraqis and prevented the country from checking the advance of the Islamic State. And he suggests that good old boy Saddam, had the U.S. not removed him from power, surely would not have allowed disarray within the country or threats from without.

Robinson fast-forwards from the original invasion of Iraq to the chaos today as if nothing happened between 2003 and 2009. He conveniently ignores the development of things like, you know, democracy, elections, freedom of the press, not to mention economic growth, and, oh yeah, as Dick Cheney correctly pointed out, the emergence of Iraq as a “relatively stable place” by the end of the Bush administration.

Ignoring the vastly improved quality of life after the U.S. liberated Iraq, liberals focus instead on the deaths of more than 110,000 Iraqis after Saddam’s overthrow, mostly at the hands of extremists who wanted an even greater totalitarian state. Robinson imagines that Saddam would not have killed as many had he remained in power and for this reason, we evidently should support a totalitarian solution.

Liberals who refuse to fight oppression because the effort might result in casualties are logically obliged to admit that the American Civil War was a mistake, in view of the 700,000 deaths caused by the effort to abolish slavery. If Americans living in the nineteenth century had taken Robinson’s position, slavery would still exist today.

But liberals will never admit that the Civil War was a mistake. Rather, they will continue to omit the facts and offer incoherent arguments to deflect blame away from Obama, whose complete abandonment of Iraq is the proximate cause of the crisis. Apparently it never occurs to liberals that a state lacking a democratic tradition might, just might, require a significant U.S. presence for a long time to insure that it stays on course.

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Bringing Ebola To America

Kent Brantly, an American doctor infected with the Ebola virus, has arrived in Atlanta, and Nancy Writebol, an American missionary stricken with the disease, is due to arrive shortly (see here). It’s very unfortunate that these people have become sick and everyone hopes for their recovery, against long odds, but it’s hard to justify bringing either of them back to the U.S.

Yes, the media and the government have trotted out the experts and health officials to dutifully explain that the virus is not easily spread because it is transmitted by direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids rather than through the air. So all is well and good.

Except that the people telling us not to worry are, for all practical purposes, the same as those who brought us, in the last year alone, the debacle, the VA hospital scandal, and more importantly, the mishandling of live anthrax and deadly strains of bird flu by the Centers for Disease Control, resulting in worker exposure (see here).

The recent track record of our government in health matters is not good, but even worse, the liberals who run things today are legitimately characterized by a reluctance to grasp the concept of “unintended consequences.” They truly believe that government need only pass a law or issue an order and everything will come out exactly as envisioned.

Social processes, however, do not proceed so neatly, and it is this liberal attitude that we should fear, not the particular mechanism by which viruses might or might not be transmitted. And who knows what unintended consequences our brilliant leaders are inviting by bringing Ebola needlessly to the U.S.

Bringing Brantly and Writebol back to the U.S. for a higher level of treatment may seem to be the right thing to do, but there are other considerations. Both aid workers engaged in very risky behavior and neither taxpayers nor those who purchase health insurance would normally expect to finance medical care resulting from such behavior.

Friends of Brantly claim he “embraced the risks” of practicing medicine in the developing world. But assuming the risks means you’re on your own and cannot expect the taxpayers or others to foot the bill when things go wrong.

The expense of transporting and treating Brantly and Writebol might be justified as an element of foreign aid provided by the U.S. government. But that only leaves us with the unflattering spectacle of an American foreign aid policy that bails out rich, white Americans when the going gets tough while leaving poor, black Africans to their own devices.

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The Gaza Conflict

As the media covers the crisis in Gaza, the news reports inevitably include the number of Palestinian deaths caused by Israeli military action (reports that in some cases almost seem to be part of a propaganda campaign against Israel).  The Washington Post recently published an “overview” of the crisis (see here), including the obligatory charts that liberals often substitute for reasoning.

One of the sections of the report is entitled “casualties in the conflict” and claims that 1,555 Palestinians have died in the conflict as of August 1 (the current number is now reported to be 1,706, see here). The information is presented in several charts, but no source is given for the casualty numbers used in the report. Yet in other sections, for example, those dealing with Gaza’s demographics, the source of the data is disclosed.

The media doesn’t want to tell us the source of their numbers, but we might guess that it is either Hamas or the U.N., neither of which is objective. Hamas can only dream of Israel’s destruction, never mind actually working to build a decent economy and society in Gaza. Much better instead to build tunnels and buy rockets to attack Israel. And the U.N., where anti-Semitism runs rampant, isn’t much better.

Although the sources are not credible, the media doesn’t even pause to consider whether the casualty numbers are accurate. And it’s hard to think that they could be accurate, especially in view of a despicable Hamas tactic that uses human shields to either restrain Israel from defending itself or to create casualties to win over public opinion. They have every incentive to inflate the numbers.

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The Gender Pay Gap

Liberals, such as those at the New Republic, are still clinging to that 77% statistic when writing about the gender pay gap, you know, the one where liberals claim that women earn only 77% of what men earn, implying discrimination (see here). The number is ambiguous and misleading, but that doesn’t stop liberals from using it over and over to disparage Republicans with a “war on women” that liberals have imagined and attribute to Republicans.

As economist Thomas Sowell, who has studied and written about discrimination in a variety of contexts around the world, points out in his book Basic Economics:

The question as to whether or how much discrimination women encounter in the labor market is a question about whether there are substantial differences in pay between women and men in the same fields with the same qualifications.

The 77% statistic doesn’t even address this question, and as it turns out, there is little difference in pay between women and men with similar work backgrounds.  According to Sowell, among men and women who worked continuously from high school to their thirties, single women have tended to earn slightly more than men. And this has been true for almost half a century, from as far back as 1971.

It makes no economic sense that women should earn only 77% of similarly qualified men. If true, employers in a competitive market would rush to hire them as a way to lower their costs and gain an advantage over their rivals. The firm that discriminated against women would incur higher costs and soon be out of business. The increased demand for women would raise their pay at the same time that reduced demand would lower the pay of men until equality was achieved.

A competitive market would frustrate any bad intentions of employers. Indeed, gender discrimination by governments, which are not subject to market forces, has been greater than firms operating in competitive markets.  In addition, government interference in the market, in the form of minimum wage laws, for example, makes it less costly for firms to discriminate by creating an excess supply of workers and reduces the natural tendency of markets to eliminate discrimination.

Sowell argues that the 77% statistic and the disparity between men and women is not necessarily about discrimination, but must be examined by considering several other factors that affect income, such as occupation and educational choices, and the extent of continuous employment.

Women in general give birth to children at some point and many stay out of the labor force for some time because of this, which cost them “workplace experience and seniority,” and results in lower incomes than men who have been “working continuously in the meantime.” Women who have children also earn substantially less than women who do not.

Liberals are aware of the real reasons for the gender pay gap as seen in their calls for changes in the workplace that would encourage women to stay in their jobs longer after having children and encourage men to take more time off. But the 77% number presents liberals with an opportunity to disparage and insult Republicans with the ever popular “war on women” slur and liberals cannot resist the temptation to do so, no matter how unfounded.

The focus on the 77% statistic also represents a desire on the part of liberals to deny the natural biological differences between men and women. So the liberal remedy for the pay gap, i.e., complete equality, is yet another attempt to create a society as unnatural (and unjust, by the way) as possible. Liberals love pounding square pegs into round holes.

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Not Getting Science

Oh dear, Austin Frakt of the liberal healthcare blog The Determined Statist (a.k.a. The Incidental Economist) is deeply saddened by the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision (see here). In that case, the court ruled that the government could not require the owners of a closely held corporation to include certain forms of contraception in the health insurance provided to employees to which the owners object on religious grounds.

According to Frakt, the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby proves that it “doesn’t get” either science or economics and Frakt is troubled “when any branch of government (or anyone at all) makes policy decisions that turn on arguments in contradiction with evidence.” So, in addition to calling those who disagree with them racists and haters, we can add “antiscience” to liberals’ standard list of insults.

Frakt refers to the “evidence” as he criticizes the Court, which is quite funny coming from a guy who, along with his fellow contributors at The Incidental Economist, routinely denies competition and doesn’t so much as flinch from the idea of big government central planning, despite the massive amount of evidence accumulated over the last two hundred years that proves the clear superiority of competitive markets over centrally controlled and directed economies.

By ignoring this evidence, Frakt ignores the proverbial log in his own eye at the same time he seeks to remove an antiscience speck from the Court’s eye. In reality, Frakt and his colleagues are the ones who don’t get science or economics. Liberals not only don’t get science when they ignore evidence of social processes, but their use of deception as a basic political tactic to expand government actually erodes the credibility of science, especially in healthcare.

Medical studies have appeared lately (many of which are reviewed by contributors at The Incidental Economist) suggesting that medical tests such as prostate exams, pap smears, mammograms, etc. are not effective and should be discontinued or reduced in frequency. Even the annual physical exam is now questioned and judged to be potentially harmful because of false alarms that require additional testing.

And whaddaya know, these studies’ conclusions just happen to support the central planners’ goal of “containing costs” in healthcare. How convenient. But when liberals routinely misrepresent facts to support their ideology, serious questions arise about the results of medical studies that are financed by a central government controlled by liberals and conducted by government employees who voted for Barack Obama (twice, even) and strongly support Obamacare.

Whenever the mainstream media (i.e., liberals) report the results of a drug study that liberals consider questionable, the author is sure to imply that the results may be rigged because the study was financed by a big, bad drug company. Yet the media doesn’t treat government sponsored studies in the same way – we are all supposed to just accept without question the results of studies conducted by Obamacare supporters.

Given today’s politicized economy and liberals’ dishonest tactics to impose an evidence-free ideology on the rest of us, to discount the results of these government-controlled studies would not be antiscience, but rather a sensible approach of any rational person.

Note:  To his credit, Frakt updated his post with a link to an argument that contradicts his assertion that the Court does not get science.

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Liberals and Soccer

The fact that most Americans do not closely follow soccer – oops, I mean football – has always bothered some liberals. Consistent with their scorn for America, these liberals prefer the “world’s game” over the perceived violence and militaristic undertones of American football (not to mention other American sports), and they would very much like the rest of us to embrace their view of the world.

Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post uses irony to mock Americans who don’t care for soccer (see here). In her column, Petri pretends to be one of those Americans (no doubt racists and believers in American exceptionalism living in conservative southern states) who have not learned to love the “beautiful  game.” She even managed to punk a few readers who believed she was an arrogant, condescending American instead of a typical, conforming liberal.

But the game isn’t so beautiful when much of the action involves a bunch of stout-legged and tattooed men tripping each other (okay, not tripping, but “tackling”). And when a player goes down, we see him writhing on the ground clutching some body part as if he had just been hit by sniper fire, only to jump up a moment later and continue playing.

Incorporating sniper fire from the crowd might make the game more interesting (it could be soccer’s version of the 1975 cult film Death Race 2000). But seriously, soccer players should be embarrassed by their flopping. A batter hit by a pitch in baseball makes a point of going to first base without reaction. Rolling around like a soccer player would bring a batter non-stop ridicule.

If Petri and others want more Americans to watch and support soccer, they might suggest that networks give viewers a break and televise games without commercials. Oh, wait, the networks already do televise soccer games without commercials. No TV timeouts or other commercial breaks even when play stops because of injury. For television sports viewers, this represents nothing less than heaven on earth.

Contrast this practice with the barrage of commercial interruptions inflicted by the TV networks on viewers of American football. And this commercial-free practice isn’t just limited to World Cup games, but is followed even for lowly MLS games in the U.S. Yes, all this for the soccer fans, many of whom aren’t even in this country legally.

But we have to give Bob Ley of ESPN first prize for soccer idiocy. In the U.S., we refer to sports teams in the singular, even though a team is composed of individuals. For example, we say “the team is playing poorly” rather than “the team are playing poorly.” The British, however, use the plural form and now, so does Bob Ley. Evidently, our version of English, like football, is not quite good enough for him.

The desire by liberals that everyone accept their sporting preferences is another example of their need to control everyone and every activity. And they don’t seem to understand that they hardly endear themselves to the rest of us when they mock Americans, give special treatment to soccer viewers (subsidized of course by football viewers), and change their way of speaking.

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Liberal Deception

As corporations have exercised their freedom of speech (i.e., by contributing to political campaigns), liberals claim that they have taken over the government, and in the process, placed our democracy in deep jeopardy. In response to this take-over, some liberals (such as Ed Steiner) are encouraging citizens to revolt to “take back our country and recover our democracy” (see here).

Steiner’s doubts, however, about corporate spending don’t appear to extend to those particular corporate forms that we know as labor unions. He also doesn’t appear to have any scruples about granting the media and politicians a virtual monopoly on political speech. And he raises no objections to the liberal propaganda that television writers now work into programs and commercials. So consistency of thought clearly is not one of his strengths.

The attack on corporations is hardly novel. Steiner’s column is straight out of the 1890s and the writings of progressives such as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Herbert Croly. The progressives’ call for a more powerful central government, however, rested on the argument that conditions had changed since the American founding and that government must adapt to those changes.

Yet, here we are more than 100 years later, and liberals like Steiner are still making the same attack on corporations although social and economic conditions are significantly different today. For example, as a factual matter, corporations are fairly liberal and contribute to both political parties to hedge their bets. By their own logic, liberals’ message should have evolved, but they seem stuck in a time warp, clinging to outmoded ideas.

Steiner also invokes America’s founders in support of the big government agenda, which is odd because the founders created a form of government that explicitly limited the powers of the central authority. To point to them rather than Wilson and other writers of the progressive era to justify the expansion of government is outright deceptive.

But liberals seem to think that confounding the founders’ views with big government policies is a great way to advance their political agenda, despite the incoherence of their reasoning. Deception is the basic liberal tactic and, unfortunately, it may work. After all, it has worked before and will work again unless Americans finally wake up.

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More Liberal Intolerance

Earlier this week, television’s CBS This Morning ran a segment about Lucy Li, the eleven-year-old who is the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. It was one of those upbeat, enthusiastic pieces designed to leave viewers swooning over such a remarkable young lady.

Actually, the kid is kind of annoying, a little too intentionally cute, wearing an outfit based on the American flag complete with exposed midriff (see here). She resembles one of those precocious and super hip kids, with their adult mannerisms and self-absorption, who appear with Don Francisco on the program Sabado Gigante.

In the segment, however, the LPGA’s top ranked player, Stacy Lewis, rained on the feel-good parade by expressing some misgivings about placing so much pressure on an eleven-year-old.

Perhaps Lewis was thinking of Michelle Wie, who as a teenage phenom attempted to play with the men before she had even succeeded against women, which didn’t work out so well (although Wie finally just won the U.S. Women’s Open after more than a decade as a frustrated phenom).

In any event, CBS This Morning cohosts, led by Gayle King, did not agree with Lewis’s assessment and their reaction is a good example of how liberals, including those at major news organizations who claim to be objective, view and treat those whose opinions differ.

King suggested that Lewis had been drinking from a little cup of “hatorade.” Get it? A pun on the sports drink Gatorade (ha-ha). For some time, liberals have branded those who do not accept their worldview as “haters.” You see, liberals believe their views are so brilliant and obviously correct that opponents have no basis for opposing them other than hatred of some kind (including racism, of course).

On the CBS program, both Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell laughed along with King and evidently the producers were so impressed with the cleverness of the hatorade statement that they repeated it later in the week in a montage of the week’s “highlights.”

If anything, this only highlighted the nastiness and incoherence of liberal thinking.

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Can We Ostracize Hillary Clinton?

The ancient Greeks had a political practice called ostracism by which they could rid themselves of any citizen for a period of time. If only the U.S. had such a procedure. We could use it to banish the Benghazi Liar (a.k.a. Hillary Clinton) and her perjurer husband, Bill Clinton.

Yes, this country has been cursed with other politicians who serve in Congress for decades and practically have to be carried out feet first, and a Bush has served as president for twelve years, but these examples involve a low profile or intermittent presence whereas the Clintons have inflicted themselves on us nonstop for the last quarter century. And the end is not in sight.

Hillary Clinton has a new book coming out called “Hard Choices.” Clinton doesn’t actually write the books she publishes, but liberals nevertheless pretend she does. Most politicians include the names of the writers on their books, but not Hillary (see here). She evidently considered adding the ghostwriter’s name to this book and decided against it, no doubt as one of her harder choices.

According to Politico, Clinton devotes a whole chapter in the book to the 2012 attack on the American embassy in Benghazi (see here). Clinton claims that Republicans are exploiting this tragedy over and over as a “political tool,” and self-righteously proclaims that she

will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans. It’s just plain wrong, and it’s unworthy of our great country. Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me.

This coming from a person who joined President Obama and then UN Ambassador Susan Rice to lie repeatedly about the cause of the Benghazi attack solely because the truth was politically inconvenient to Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign.

After Clinton stepped down as secretary of state, liberals tried without success to find examples by which they could praise her performance. Indeed, liberals absurdly defined travel as accomplishment so that Clinton’s one million miles of travel during her tenure could qualify.

As Clinton gears up for a presidential run in 2016, liberals are suddenly discovering new accomplishments. For example, there is praise for Clinton’s support for the raid on Bin Laden’s compound, as if anyone in her position would have argued against the raid (well, Joe Biden apparently argued against it, but Biden is usually on the wrong side of major foreign policy decisions anyway).

Walter Russell Mead writes that Clinton struggled at the State Department to create a coherent set of policies, and suggests that Clinton’s ideas may have caused Russia and China to become more aggressive toward the U.S. (see here). But the ideas he has in mind are those that promote “democracy activists and movements,” so at the same time he criticizes Clinton, Mead also shows how one might compliment her.

When Clinton’s book comes out, I won’t acquire a copy unless it’s free. It’s hard to justify giving money to Clinton for a book written by someone else. Not to mention she earns $200,000 to $300,000 per speech and has made millions more pretending to write books. And her husband has earned $106 million by giving speeches since he left office.

This kind of income makes the Clintons part of the 1%, yet they’ve done nothing to create value and earn their wealth. Think of all the goods and services that people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have provided to society and contrast their activities with those of the Clintons. Bill and Hillary are economic parasites and accomplished scammers.

The ancient Greeks used ostracism, but limited its term to ten years, which would be woefully inadequate for the Clintons. For them, we would need at least twenty, no, make that fifty years. And even that probably wouldn’t stop those two from coming back.

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Diversity At Google

Google recently felt the need to “go public” by posting some employment numbers showing the gender and racial/ethnic makeup of its workforce (see here). As it turns out, 30% of Google’s workforce are women, 2% are black, 3% are Hispanic, and 30% are Asian. Google claims that this is not “where we want to be when it comes to diversity” and seemed apologetic for the numbers, although it’s hard to see that it has done anything wrong.

The Associated Press (see here) and other news organizations reported Google’s numbers and the general tone of the stories is that Google, not to mention all of Silicon Valley, is racist. The AP actually quotes Jesse Jackson (evidently he’s still around) who claims there is a “culture of exclusion” in Silicon Valley. According to Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Google is showing nothing more than an “old pattern” of exclusion of women and people of color.

Okay, but the problem with liberals’ racism story is that 30% of Google’s workforce (34% of tech employees) is Asian. This fact completely undercuts the liberals’ racist argument or at least it should for anyone thinking rationally.

But liberals prefer to ignore this inconvenient fact rather than address it. For example, several mainstream news organization edited the story to omit the Asian reference, including Reuters, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. Each of them published the story without the key statistic, and in doing so, each acted more like an Orwellian Ministry of Truth than a legitimate news organization.

Minorities make up less than 25% of the American population, yet they account for 35% of Google’s workforce. Obviously, the company’s hiring decisions are not discriminatory and its record is praiseworthy, although by hiring competent people it is only doing what it must. If Google didn’t hire on merit, competition would eventually force it from the market.

But somehow liberals find Google’s record unacceptable. No one explains why it should be unacceptable, but we might guess the idea is that Google must for some reason employ minorities in the same proportion as the groups are represented in the population in general.

In the real world there is no basis for insisting that employment among gender, ethnic, or racial groups at Google reflect the general population. No matter how liberals ignore reality, the fact remains that disparities between racial and ethnic groups naturally exist, caused by various demographic, geographic, and cultural reasons that have nothing to do with discrimination (as explained many times by economist Thomas Sowell).

As Google has pointed out, there is a shortage of qualified African-Americans in the high-tech sector. In one recent year, Google hired one of only two African-Americans with new doctorates who were on the job market (Microsoft hired the other). So there appears to be a lack of interest in high-tech among many African-Americans.

It also doesn’t help that some African-American students have adopted an unfortunate attitude about “acting white” (see here). This certainly contrasts sharply with the strong emphasis that Asian-American families place on education, especially in high-tech areas. Given the level of achievement of Asian-American students, perhaps the better phrase is “acting Asian” rather than acting white.

But none of these considerations will have any effect on liberals’ views. In fact, anyone who even raises the cultural issues relating to African-Americans, other than Jackson’s “culture of exclusion,” will be attacked as a racist, as Paul Ryan recently discovered.

Google seems unwilling to even defend itself, and so we can expect that liberals eventually will succeed as they reorganize society in the most abnormal and artificial ways.

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