The Race Education of a White Guy

Howard Dean inserted his foot yet again, this time on the subject of race, and Mickey Kaus is all over it:

“Dealing with race is about educating white folks.” Howard Dean seems to have said this. That’ll bring in those Southern pickup guys! They love being singled out for ‘education’! … Is there really nothing in “dealing with race” that involves changing African-American attitudes along with white attitudes? Dean’s comment would be more depressing if weren’t also the sort of cluelessly pre-Clinton utterance that virtually guarantees he will never be president.

It’s the sort of mindless pandering that has become emblematic of the Dean campaign. He wants to bolster his standing among African-Americans, but in his greed, he steps on his tongue again. Dean wants to return to the demonization that has characterized race politics for decades, something that Clinton tried to change.
The problem with race relations and civil rights is a lack of definition of its goals. During its Golden Age, the civil-rights movement had a clear and definable mission: the ending of state-sanctioned (and imposed) segregation, equal voting rights, and equal access to government, including education. All of these goals have been accomplished, and for the past three decades, it has drifted from the notion of equal access to equal results in the absence of a hard, attainable goal. However, guaranteeing equal results removes us from a market economy to a socialist, government-controlled entitlement economy similar to what the French and Germans have — and they are slowly drowning as their demographics destroy the Ponzi schemes their entitlement programs became. In that case, the only equality we’ll achieve is the equality of starvation.
No one is doubting that disparity exists, and it exists along racial lines to some extent, but mostly it exists along class lines. This continues not because of a lack of access to the government-run education system, but because of a lack of options to it. In order for economically disadvantaged people to truly be able to compete in the marketplace, they need to have a good education, one that allows them access to the better universities and the networking that builds the careers of its graduates. Civil-rights efforts in education have been focused on the college and university levels, but the true issue is in the performance of inner-city primary and secondary schools. Unfortunately, these schools “educate” a high proportion of minority children, and the dual problems of poor performance and denial of school choice doom these children to a poor education and an inability to compete at the college and career levels. Consider this article in today’s Los Angeles Times:

Orthodox civil rights groups are also largely silent on what may be the most important civil rights issue of our time: the perplexing and shocking racial learning gap between white and Asian students at one end of the learning spectrum and black and Latino students at the other. By the 12th grade, on average, black and Latino students are four years behind their white and Asian counterparts.
The data suggest that poverty, racism, class size and spending are not major factors. Instead, it is the inability to hold teachers accountable, powerful teacher unions that have lost focus, school cultures based in failure and a dominant culture in many black and Latino homes and communities that, in part, leads to kids watching too much television, having little exposure to books, facing peer pressure that ridicules academic excellence and having insufficient parental involvement in their educational lives.

Instead of locking children into this vicious cycle, we should be freeing the parents to select schools that actually work by providing a voucher system. Freed from an educational monopoly, parents will be able to send their children to private schools — an option chosen by many, if not most, parents of higher economic strata — and receive a better education, stronger involvement in curricula, and allow children of all races and economic classes to intermix and develop networks of friendships that will not only result in better career-building but will also finally remove the barriers between the races and classes within a single generation. It will also be done in a free-market manner instead of top-down, bureaucratic edicts.
Democrats, while pandering to African-Americans, do not like this solution. They prefer to force African-Americans and the poor to utilize only the government educational monopoly even while the schools continue to fail to provide an education or even physical safety for its students. Why? At least in part, they want to enforce the notion that government is the sole guarantor of necessary services, but also because one of their major sources of funding is unions, and no union is as politically supportive of Democrats as the National Education Association. The end result is a succeeding procession of victimized generations, angry at the lack of access that their substandard education provided and looking for someone to blame. These naturally become Democratic voters, who continue the sad cycle for the next generation.
Education, the first line of battle in the civil-rights movement, should become the final battle in order to truly break this inevitable process and build an organic foundation for true equality. Government can be part of the solution by providing school vouchers in economically distressed areas, and in districts where primary and secondary schools are demonstrably failing. President Bush, in his second term, has the ability to make more progress in true civil rights than anyone since the 1960s, and in the process expose Howard Dean and the rest of the left as panderers and pretenders.

Damned If You Do …

It didn’t take long for Iranian expressions of gratitude for the 150,000 pounds of relief materials given by the US to quake victims in Bam to turn into this:

Hardliners in Iran’s government criticized U.S. relief efforts after the devastating earthquake that killed more than 30,000 people and flattened the ancient city of Bam, accusing Washington of trying to meddle in Tehran’s affairs. … Khatami has thanked Washington for its support but hardline clerics within the government expressed suspicion about the motives behind U.S. aid:
State radio, a mouthpiece for Iran’s clerics, on Friday charged that Bush had “once again demonstrated that America’s interfering and hostile policy against Iran has not altered at all.”

And if we hadn’t sent aid, we’d be vilified as demons who won’t share our wealth to save unfortunate victims of disasters. The issue? President Bush reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring Iranian nuclear programs be brought under control and not used for military weaponry and for freedom for the Iranian people. He also insisted, although not as a condition of the aid, that Iran turn over al-Qaeda operatives known to be sheltered by the Iranian mullahs that run the country. This should not even be negotiable; the Bush Doctrine is clear that those governments that shelter terrorists are in opposition to the US.
While Bush is taking a cautious and (mostly) conciliatory tone, the response has been less than helpful:

“One should therefore not trust the expression of opinion, speeches and other optimistic signals that are sent by the American foreign policy authorities toward Iran from time to time,” the radio said.
Instead of sending “meager aid” to help quake victims, Washington should unfreeze billions of dollars of Iranian assets, the radio commentary said.

Those billions need to stay frozen until Iran coughs up its al-Qaeda “guests” and complies with its treaty requirements. Until then, the mullahs can make all the statements it wants, and we’ll keep making ours, too. We’ll see who lasts longer.

Visit North Korea — See Our Lovely Bombs

North Korea has invited the US to inspect its nuclear facilities prior to the next round of nonproliferation negotiations:

North Korea has agreed to allow a U.S. delegation to visit its main nuclear complex next week, the first such inspection since the isolated communist country expelled United Nations monitors more than a year ago.
The visit appeared to be an effort by North Korea to prove that it has built a nuclear bomb – or capable of doing so – and strengthen its negotiating position ahead of planned talks with the United States and four other nations on ending the nuclear standoff.
Pyonyang could also be signaling its willingness to allow more extensive inspections in the future – if Washington meets its demands for humanitarian aid and a promise not to attack the North.

While the notion that Pyongyang can prove it has a bomb sounds unsettling, it would merely confirm what the US has been saying all along — that previous treaties had no deterrent effect on North Korea, and the only way to rein them back in is to do so with a multilateral approach. While the Bush administration routinely gets criticized for its supposed unilateral, go-it-alone approach — despite building large coalitions of nations for action in both Afghanistan and Iraq — the left has also been attacking Bush for rejecting North Korea’s insistence on bilateral negotiation, at least until recently, and now even North Korea has backed down:

In its New Year’s Day message, North Korea reconfirmed that it wants to resolve the dispute peacefully, through six-nation talks with the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.

In negotiating parlance, what has happened with Libya and North Korea is known as moving the game. It underscores the need to negotiate from strength, not from a policy of retreat and appeasement. The North Koreans have been using the former strategy since the early 1990s, and now they have finally recognized that the US is not afraid to do the same — and that they have no hope of winning when we play for keeps. “Come see our bombs” is their last play, after which they will negotiate for whatever economic concessions they can get from the six-nation talks, understanding that true verification will be required. It’s either the end of their nuclear program or the end of their iron grip on power, and it may well be both.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Anything But

Quite frankly, Twin Cities residents take a perverse pride in the editorial idiocy of our leading newspaper, the Star Tribune. My neighborhood bloggers all have recurring examples of the foolishness that the Strib regularly publishes in its news and op-ed sections, and at least for my part, I’m happy to remain well-informed and reasonably rational in spite of the Strib. So when another major city lays claim to the Strib’s championship of lunacy, we all feel a bit resentful.
Yesterday, unfortunately, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer tried to make its name ironic by publishing this tinfoil-hat editorial by Edward Wenk, Jr., described in the brief bio as “the first science adviser to Congress,” as well as having accomplished the unusual hat trick of serving on the policy staffs for Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. These days, Wenk works as a crank, if his article gives a reliable indication:

The shock and awe of 9/11 has not faded. Americans remain in jeopardy of terrorists willing to die simply to lull and frighten innocent civilians. Taking precautions to preserve our security is essential, but in that process, have we self-inflicted a second class of danger that threatens our cherished freedom, justice and democracy, a condition grim enough to deserve code red?
Consider the USA Patriot Act titled “Uniting and strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Funds to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.” Noble as that objective is, the act’s provisions are scary. Government can now collect data on library withdrawals, charge card records, medical and financial histories. Surveillance can be ratcheted to monitor your e-mail, wiretap you under a generic warrant, search your home without a warrant and label you a “terrorist” if you are among activists exercising rights to dissent. In a swoon of hysteria, Congress passed this statute in 45 days with only two hours of hearings

Swooning with hysteria himself, Wenk apparently hasn’t bothered to actually read and understand the Patriot Act. Even the Star Tribune has managed to keep its head on this issue, publishing an op-ed piece in November by David Reinhard:

“The tide of criticism” against the Patriot Act “is both misinformed and overblown,” and the Justice Department has “done a pretty good job in terms of implementing.” Those aren’t Attorney General John Ashcroft’s words. They’re the words of Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the act.
“I’ve tried to see what has happened in the complaints that have come in, and I’ve received to date 21,434 complaints about the Patriot Act … . I have never had a single [verified] abuse of the Patriot Act reported to me.” Nor are these Ashcroft’s words. They’re Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s.

Wenk’s arguments are non-specific and insubstantial, relying on generalizations that turn out to be wildly inaccurate. For instance, the charge that warrantless searches are authorized are bunk. All searches require a federal judge to authorize a warrant, but the search can be done before the target is notified of the warrant. Such delayed-warrant searches were already legal for child-pornography and organized-crime investigations; all the Patriot Act did was extend their use for terrorism investigations as well. The rest of the objections that Wenk makes to the first Patriot act are similarly hysterical and false, as a small bit of investigation proves.
Next, Wenk attacks the one-time proposal known as Patriot Act II in the same screechy and sloganeering manner as the first subject. Unfortunately for Wenk, no one’s notified him that this proposal was withdrawn (thus negating most of the purpose of his screed), but even if it were still alive, his objections have been also thoroughly debunked, here by the Volokh Conspiracy, a group of libertarian lawyers whose expertise on this subject would appear to greatly outstrip mine and Wenk’s.
After the embarrassment of issuing bumper-sticker arguments against a law that doesn’t exist, Wenk goes on to demand that we “connect the dots” to a random series of generalized paranoid fantasies that Wenk claims show a plan to enslave America. For instance:

The Electoral College created by the Constitution has proven obsolete. It led to George W. Bush’s presidency even though Al Gore had a popular majority of 540,000. The election turned on electoral votes in Florida where three counties were in dispute. Voting machines left hanging chads and butterfly ballots that warranted a recount. … The U.S. Supreme Court abruptly stopped proceedings that would likely have shown Gore the victor. Citizens didn’t elect Bush; the Supreme Court appointed him illegally.

The Electoral College hasn’t proven obsolete at all; in fact, it’s proven quite useful in keeping a handful of large states from skewing elections and forcing candidates to campaign in every state. Voting machines didn’t leave chads hanging, voters did, and butterfly ballots have been in use for decades before 2000. Every election in which I voted in California — sixteen years of them — used butterfly, punch-card balloting. Every recount in Florida, including the comprehensive one done by a media consortium that included the Miami Herald and Washington Post, showed that Bush won even when counting the so-called “undervotes”. All the Supreme Court did was put an end to the foolishness that the Florida Supreme Court began when it overrode the Legislature.

The military-industrial-congressional complex controls half the national budget and subverts priorities preferred by the electorate.

You would think that a man who helped develop policy for three Presidents would know that Congress controls all of the “national budget”. It’s written in the Constitution that Wenk proposes to defend from “military-industrial-congressional complex”. Furthermore, Congress stands for election every two years, and if it subverts the will of the electorate, it won’t do it for very long. Wenk’s problem is that Congress doesn’t follow the priorities Wenk prefers.

The White House lacks tolerance for healthy dissent. The most influential advisers have the same biases as the president, nurturing error, blunder and folly.

Wait — do you mean to tell us that the President selects advisers that agree with his policy goals? I’ve never heard such a thing! Unbelievable! Presidents should hire only allow advisers that disagree with them and block their policies from being implemented. That would eliminate error, blunder, and folly! And from this, we are suppoed to conclude that our democracy is endangered as never before?
This ridiculous essay, full of hysterics, generalizations, and obvious errors, does nothing but demean the Post-Intelligencer and its readership. While I think the Strib publishes wildly inaccurate editorial pieces, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything approaching the sheer stupidity and irrationality demonstrated by Wenks and the P-I in this piece. Sadly, we Minnesotans must cede our bragging rights to the people of Seattle. Someone needs to check the café lattés being delivered to the P-I, and soon.
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International Flight Cancellations Due to Intelligence

The US, in cancelling at least one of the several international flights grounded during the holiday, acted on specific intelligence and not just names from passenger manifests, national security sources told the AP:

U.S. authorities were acting on intelligence information — and not just suspicious passenger names — when they boarded a British Airways jet on New Year’s Eve at nearby Dulles International Airport, a national security official said Thursday. Meanwhile, the security concerns affected the same British Airways scheduled flight again on Thursday, when the airline canceled one of its three daily flights from Heathrow Airport to Washington.
Thursday’s decision was based on security advice from the British government, a spokesman for the airline said.

I think terrorist groups were either trying very hard to make a statement over the holidays, or they were engaging in a counter-intelligence mission to uncover spies and moles within their organizations. Regardless of which was true, American security agencies appear to be responding tremendously well to the information they’re receiving. For the most part, they are getting cooperation from international carriers and foreign governments, although this setback is mildly disappointing:

Armed air marshals will not be on New Zealand flights in the near future, say aviation security bosses.
Claims that the United States Government had ordered foreign airlines travelling to the US to put on-board marshals in place had been grossly over-exaggerated, said New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority.

From our perspective, the message from Homeland Security was quite clear; all airlines traveling into or through American airspace must be prepared to supply air marshals when requested for specific flights, or be prepared for denial of access to the US. The New Zealand Herald even covered this statement on the same day as NZCAA denied it meant what it said.
Congratulations to our security forces these holidays; thanks to them, we’ve been free of terrorist attacks during a high-profile period of time. The Bush administration has delivered well on its promise to secure our nation from the murderers and fanatics that want to kill us, and while there is always room for improvement, I am grateful for their hard work.

Patterico: LA Times Roll of Shame

Man … I spend yesterday and today watching the granddaughter, and when I come back, one of my blogfriends writes a killer article taking it to the Los Angeles Times. Patterico spent a lot of time and effort researching the foibles of the West Coast’s leading newspaper (which he calls the Dog Trainer), and the result is a long list of embarrasments, mistakes, and flat-out lies that you would imagine should qualify John Carroll, the editor-in-chief, for a spot on Monday’s unemployment line. Take the time to read through the entire post, and if you haven’t already done so, add Patterico to your blogroll.
Great start to the new year! (New resolution: go through my blogroll more often …)

Mitch Berg’s 2003 Wrapup

No, thank Goodness, Mitch doesn’t go the Bill McAuliffe route and wax poetic in his EOY post, but instead Mitch focuses on what didn’t happen, contrary to all predictions from the left:

The Battle of Baghdad didn’t turn into Stalingrad.
Lack of UN support didn’t render the liberation untenable.
Hussein didn’t nuke or gas Israel when he was up against the wall (hee hee. Remember when that was the left’s big bleat?)
Tens of thousands of Iraqis did not die.

Mitch also was kind enough to add me to his blogroll and he recommends to the Northen Alliance that we look at Jay Reding. Jay posted a thoughtul piece yesterday as to why he thinks Dean is unstoppable, despite his tendency to be his own worst enemy:

My guess that Dean has the nomination is based on my own experiences as a political footsoldier. As a former Republican campaign strategist told me, “a campaign is only as good as the quality and number of its activists”. Say what you will about Dean, he has the best ground game of anyone, and he’s been building that base for months – long before any of the other candidates.

Read the whole thing. I’m taking Mitch’s advice and adding Jay to the Northern Fleet.