Archive for July 21st, 2008

July 21, 2008

Your mandatory obligation to pay the salaries of government school bureaucrats

Once you accept the premise of a liberal argument, the conclusions are inescapable. Thus, Andrew Blechman in the Arizona Republic:

Today, more and more Americans are coming to embrace a lifestyle defined by one common trait – the exclusion of children and young families. But although segregation is a dubious tenet upon which to found a community, and despite the fact that this premise has remained essentially unexamined, so-called “active adult” developments are rapidly gaining acceptance in American society. . . .
After defeating 17 school-bond measures in 12 years, de-annexing from the local school system, and all the energy spent evicting “contraband children,” [residents of the Sun City retirement community near Phoenix, Ariz.] can likely forget relying on the goodwill of their neighbors who often share a reciprocal bounty of distrust, anger and apathy.

What Blechman objects to is the right of people to live as they wish, and to exercise their political right to vote in their own interests, in this case, voting to avoid higher taxes — taxes that would allow the government schools to hire more bureaucrats. By slapping the “segregation” label on these retirement communities, he expects to elicit an appropriate shudder of horror from the bien pensants.

Enter Dana Goldstein, to seize on Blechman’s op-ed as an argument against basing school funding on local property taxes:

[S]ome people, who don’t have kids in public schools and who aren’t particularly civic-minded, will inevitably resent paying [local school taxes] and do everything they can to avoid doing so.

From what little information I can find online, it appears that Ms. Goldstein is about three years out of Brown University, unmarried and childless. Exactly why is she crusading on behalf of higher school taxes in Arizona? Beats me. I figure folks in Phoenix can fend for themselves without any guidance from me. Apparently, however, Ms. Goldstein simply can’t suppress her busybody instinct:

Visiting Florida over the years and seeing gated community after gated community along wide highways, I always wondered why so many senior citizens wanted to isolate themselves from young families. I think this may be a lifestyle with far less appeal to younger generations less steeped in the post-World War II pro-suburban ideology. One can hope that by the time Gen X and Gen Y-ers are retiring, the trend toward leaving vibrant, diverse communities in one’s old age in favor of homogeneous pseudo-towns will have run its course.

“Vibrant, diverse communities” like Washington, D.C.! High taxes, high cost of living, out-of-control crime, incompetent police — hell, D.C.’s “vibrant, diverse” population has declined by about 300,000 in the past 50 years. The only people who live in D.C. are (a) rich yuppies who don’t want to commute, and (b) poor people who can’t afford to leave. I assume that Goldstein, an Ivy Leaguer, fits category (a).

Goldstein’s assertion that the purpose of human life is to pay taxes to support government bureaucracy offends me most profoundly. This liberal fetish about governiment schools — that support for more taxes to hire more school bureaucrats is self-evidently moral, and that opposition is thus immoral — cannot be justified on the basis of evidence, and must therreforre be classified as a superstition.

July 21, 2008

‘Slogan-festooned vomit bags’

Via e-mail, a friend informed me:

Obama is so detestable that I have resolved to get drunk and vote for McCain, along with Ann of course.

I didn’t get the reference, because I was en route to Alabama to shoot my 4th of July fireworks show when Ann Coulter published this column:

The irony is, the only people McCain can count on to vote for him are the very Republicans he despises — at least those of us who can get drunk enough on Election Day to pull the lever for him. In fact, we should organize parties around the country where Republicans can get drunk so they can vote for McCain. We can pass out clothespins with his name as a reminder and slogan-festooned vomit bags.

Turns out there’s an entire Web site devoted to this idea. Unfortunately, due to federal ethanol subsidies, the price of liquor has skyrocketed and, due to the recession, not even Republicans can afford enough booze to get them that drunk.

July 21, 2008

Teen sex cult update

In a comment on an earlier thread about the April raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in Texas, Angela asked:

Next, you could address the way CPS claimed they had 31 teen mothers by refusing to accept their legal documents proving their ages, so they could make it look like the FLDS community was as awful as the media was painting it? 31 turned out to be 5, and from what I understand (though I could be wrong, it’s hard to keep the ages straight when there’s so much misinformation) they’ll all be 18 this year.

While I haven’t been able to find any news reports confirming that only five of the mothers at the El Dorado ranch were minors, Jacob Sullum of Reason magazine notes:

CPS claimed 31 underage girls at the ranch were pregnant or mothers. It later conceded that at least 15 of them were in fact adults while a 14-year-old on the list was not pregnant and had no children. The Associated Press reported that “more mothers listed as underage are likely to be reclassified as adults.”

So that reduces the number down to 15 or 16, but the claim of “31 teen mothers” is still out there all over the Internet, and none of the stories have corrections appended. At least one of the alleged “child brides” who turned out to be 18 gave birth while in state custody:

An 18-year-old who gave birth in state custody after she was incorrectly seized in a raid on a polygamist sect ranch says the state kept her in foster care in an effort to seize her baby.
Pamela Jessop said authorities knew how old she was when they raided her home on the Yearning for Zion Ranch, which is owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I gave ’em my name. I gave ’em my age,” Jessop said. “I was honest. Showed ’em my birth certificate and they acknowledged it, that I was 18.”

Furthermore, Sullum makes important points:

In any case, as the appeals court noted, “teenage pregnancy, by itself, is not a reason to remove children from their home and parents.”
In Texas the minimum age for marriage with parental consent is 16 — raised from 14 in 2005 with the FLDS in mind — and “there was no evidence regarding the marital status of these girls when they became pregnant or the circumstances under which they became pregnant.”

For months, I’ve been saying this: Texas leads the nation in teen births. If every pregnant 15-year-old in Texas is cause for a paramilitary raid, they’re going to need to hire more SWAT officers.

And the business of Texas raising its marriage age just to thwart the FLDS bothers me. Fourteen-year-olds had been legally married in Texas since time immemorial, but then these religious kooks move to Texas, and suddenly the state legislature sees the need for “progress”?

(BTW: The “teen sex cult” title is a mocking allusion to the lurid tabloid-style coverage the Texas FLDS raid initially generated in the media.)

UPDATE: Harry Reid wants a federal criminal investigation of FLDS:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will take his quest for a federal investigation of a polygamous sect before the Judiciary Committee next week.
The Nevada Democrat requested and received the July 24 hearing before the committee, during which he will present evidence to support a federal crime investigation of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a spokesman said. . . .
Reid has pushed for several years to get the U.S. Attorney’s Office to form a federal task force to look at polygamous sects and has renewed that effort because current Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey “seems more receptive to it,” Summers said. . . .
Reid sent Mukasey a letter in April asking for his help in fighting “pervasive criminal activity” occurring in polygamous groups — specifically, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. . . .
Reid contends that the FLDS are an organized crime syndicate that has engaged in bribery, extortion, fraud, embezzlement, witness tampering and labor violations. He wants the Justice Department to launch a federal racketeering investigation.

Extortion? Fraud? Bribery? These FLDS sound almost as bad as the corrupt union bosses who support Harry Reid’s Democratic Party. “Almost,” I said.

July 21, 2008

Obama: The $300 Million Man

Marc Ambinder notes that Barack Obama has raised $337 million to date — already the biggest haul of campaign cash in history, and almost certain to top half a billion dollars by Election Day.

Whatever criticism one makes of the Obama campaign, their fundraising prowess is remarkable. And it’s ironic that they’ve raised this astronomical sum in order to defeat John McCain, the man who pushed through the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act to “get the big money out of politics.” If McCain loses, he will have been hoisted by his own petard.

July 21, 2008

Right-wing pointy-heads

Megan McArdle — whom I once escorted home after she suffered an attack of vertigo — has surrendered to contrarian folly, if this New York Times article is to be believed:

Meanwhile, Megan McArdle, a libertarian writer, thinks conservative organizations will actually have a tougher time influencing policy if Senator McCain is elected. . . .Indeed, to Ms. McArdle, the possibility of a Republican defeat holds a certain romantic appeal. “Younger people are kind of excited about being in the wilderness,” she said, evoking the pre-Reagan years when Republican thinkers plotted their revolution at nonprofit organizations and in bars instead of in the Executive Office Building and congressional majority offices. The longer you’re in power, the more you want to preserve it. “That’s where the Republicans are right now, and it’s demoralizing for think tankers.”
Desperation has a way of focusing the mind. As Ms. McArdle said, “When they’re out of power, they have to think in a clearer way.”

I criticized this notion at AmSpecBlog:

Never having set foot in the Executive Office Building, I’m nevertheless dismayed by the “romantic appeal” of the wilderness for Ms. McArdle, who was in middle school the last time Democrats controlled both the White House and Congress. Should dissatisfaction with the status quo (almost universal on the Right) lead to the unconservative idea that change — any change, even Change — is progress?

The extreme youth of thinkers like McArdle, Douthat, et al., gives them a rather narrow experiential frame of reference. Having never been a think-tanker, nor a young conservative (I grew up a Democrat, an affiliation I didn’t shed until I was about 35), I shudder to think what idiocy I might have wrought if I’d been catapulted into the midst of Washington policy disputes in my 20s. (Some would say I’ve wrought plenty of idiocy in my 40s.)

I worry about these brainiac prodigies who arrive in Washington fresh from the college campus and, without any seasoning in the “real world,” are transformed overnight into savants.

When I was about Douthat’s age, I was DJing in an Atlanta strip club, which was about as much responsibility as I could handle, and perhaps more than I could handle. Yet there is something to be said for the experience of living among The People, earning one’s living outside the realm of intellectual endeavor, as a preparation for common-sense thinking about politics.

UPDATE: A liberal blogger chides the Right:

Adversity is the one thing that modern conservatives cannot stomach or stand. If they believed in it, they wouldn’t have rolled over for George Bush and they certainly wouldn’t have rolled over for John McCain. If adversity was something conservatives in this country as a whole could take, they would have nominated Senator Sam Brownback on principle and rejected the likes of McCain and Romney out of hand. Instead, they rolled over and took it.

She has kind of a point there. One of the things I’ve noticed about Beltway conservatives — as opposed to rank-and-file conservatives out in the provinces — is that they tend to be very power-oriented. There is a definite pecking order, and everybody’s trying to move up the ladder.

On the other hand, it wasn’t Beltway conservatives who rejected Sam Brownback (or Tom Tancredo or any of the other lesser Republican presidential hopefuls), it was GOP primary voters. But that is another issue entirely. And as to whether conservatives “rolled over” for either Bush or McCain — well, look at the fall-off in the GOP vote since 2006. It’s obvious that lots of rank-and-file grassroots conservatives are more or less engaged in a boycott of the Republican machine. They’ve stopped voting, they’ve stopped volunteering in campaigns, and they’ve especially stopped giving the kind of $50-$100 contributions that were once the lifeblood of the GOP.

UPDATE II: I think it’s fair to number David Weigel among the youngsters excited about a Republican exile to the wilderness. The Bush administration’s shunning of libertarians is not without a price.

July 21, 2008

Obama’s European shark jump

From my latest American Spectator column:

Team Obama’s difficulty in finding a suitable site for his Berlin speech is unlikely to get much attention from the TV news anchors traveling with the candidate this week. Yet it highlights the fundamental problem of Obama overseas excursion: It is a purely symbolic gesture from a campaign that increasingly seems more interested in symbols than substance.

Please read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Obama’s already put his foot in his mouth once, telling CBS he expects to be president for “eight to 10 years”:

Link: (Via Hot Air.) ABC’s Jake Tapper observes:

The notion that Obama will be dealing with world leaders for eight-to-ten years, possibly up through July 2018, suggests that either (a) he believes that not only will he be elected and re-elected, but the 22nd amendment will be repealed and he will be elected for a third term, OR (b) he was speaking casually and just meant two terms. . . .
This week Obama will have his words picked apart like never before, and it will be an international audience of not just opponents but actual enemies.

Watch out for that shark, Fonz!

UPDATE: A German correspondent notices that Team Obama is trying to keep European reporters away from the candidate, prompting the Big Johnson to muse:

[H]is staff is desperately worried that the candidate will make a gaffe, as soon as he ventures into uncharted territory. Foreign reporters tend to ask questions about … you know … foreign stuff.

Obama facing tough questions? Unthinkable.