Patterico's Pontifications


Same Old, Same Old: Socialist Makes an Economically Ignorant Argument

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:13 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Champagne socialist Katrina vanden Huevel writing in her Washington Post newspaper column today took up the current fashionable leftist dream: forgiveness of student loan debts coupled with “free” (my absolute least-favorite word in political economics) college education at state universities and community colleges. And what’s the rationale for cancelling this debt? Just because, dontcha know:

[Politicians from both parties] have created a system that prices college out of reach and forces children to take on growing levels of debt to pay the fare. That debt too often becomes a millstone on the young people it was intended to assist.

Politicians from both parties have also created a system that prices automobiles and homes out of reach and forces — no, Ms. vanden Huevel, not “children” but young adults — to take on growing level of debt to pay the fare. Does this mean that the next step is to pay off everyone’s auto loans and mortgages? There is little that is as insipid as the leftist creed that government should be paying for any old thing that some plurality of us determine to be generally beneficial. Note where Ms. vanden Heuvel next takes her argument:

Student debt now totals about $1.5 trillion, more than credit card and auto loan debt. About 4 in 10 people who have attended college have taken out loans to help pay for it. These are the children of working- and middle-class families, not the affluent. As the price of college has skyrocketed nearly 400 percent over the past 30 years, the debt burden of those who take out loans has soared as well. The College Board reports that, in 2016, the average debt for those who took out loans to finish a bachelor’s degree was $28,400 — an inflation-adjusted increase of about 30 percent since 2001.

There is no shortage of interesting statistics regarding college loans, rises in tuitions, and overall affordability. The (original) links in Ms. vanden Heuvel’s paragraph quote above are all interested reading, as are others which study how increases in loan subsidies lead to a rise in tuition, or a general comparison of average tuition levels over the past thirty years in constant dollars. Ever the foot soldier for the left (she can probably more aptly be described as a junior officer), Ms. vanden Heuvel makes a somewhat misleading comparison of women holding two-thirds of all student debt without bothering to acknowledge that they also now comprise over 57 percent of bachelor’s degree earners, close to 60 percent of master’s degree earners, and over 52 percent of doctoral degrees; and that women generally receive degrees in fields that are less financially lucrative than the fields in which men receive degrees, meaning that women often take longer to pay back an equivalent amount of student debt.

To her credit, Ms. vanden Heuvel acknowledges the out-of-whack explosion in tuition levels, and rightly places some of the blame on the corresponding growth in higher education bureaucracy:

Part of the cost increase is because state funding didn’t keep up with rising costs, so students and parents are expected to bear more of the expense. A big reason, though, is the obscene growth in administrative salaries and staffing at public colleges and universities, even as more and more of the teaching is done by impoverished adjuncts.

The link in the preceding paragraph is from an opinion piece written by quasi-libertarian fully-contrarian law professor, Paul Campos, so perhaps there are some economic issues where a left-right consensus can be formed. But what Katrina vanden Heuvel fails to acknowledge is that much of that “obscene growth in administrative salaries and staffing” can be traced to the creation of huge left-leaning offices, from general grievance-mongering to trendy environmentalism to preferences for organized labor, none of which I would doubt are particularly unacceptable to her worldview. If she really thinks that colleges need to address administrative bloat, a good place to start might be with the diversity offices that continue to grow even when financial conditions cause faculty members to be laid off, or maybe a Sustainability Office which employs seven full-time staff members with a director who pulls down a cool $156k in salary and benefits.

But the worst part about this op-ed is the author’s contention that the solution to the baleful effects of all this student loan debt is to simply cancel it. Sure, it’s a socialist stand-by: the answer for every problem under the sun is for the government to take it over, make it infinitely worse, yet at the same time protect the most irresponsible of us from the ramifications of our bad decisions. Ms. vanden Huevel would have the federal government “forgive” the loans by buying them up from the various creditors and writing off the federally-backed ones. She envisions this occurring over a ten-year time period, and she points to a study done by economists at Bard College which claims that the effects of this policy will be pretty much uniformly positive, proving that there apparently really is such thing as a free lunch. (Seriously: the study from Bard explicitly refers to the cancellation plan as “a free lunch.”)

Coupled with this debt forgiveness, according to Ms. vanden Heuvel, would be the twin socialist goal of providing free public university education to all students. This is of course one of the many panders popularized recently by Senator Bernard Sanders, and it appeals to young people who love the idea of something for nothing, their parents who would also be let off the financial hook, and the higher education establishment who would no longer have to feel guilty that teenagers are going heavily into hock in order to pay their salaries. The only loser, theoretically, are the taxpayers who would once again be hit up with more costs. People of a certain age (for example — ahem — mine) would have the honor of paying off their own student loans and then paying for the modern social justice warrior to spend five or six years protesting Donald Trump while studying he intricacies of Genderfluid Theory or Latin@/Latinx Street Art.

Or maybe not. One unanticipated consequence of the state taxpayer footing the entire bill is that the legislature would almost surely supplant the existing bureaucracy as the ultimate arbiter of what is offered in the curriculum and who is hired on campus. Imagine the Texas State Legislature gleefully telling the UTEP Women’s and Gender Studies Department to evacuate the premises or letting Texas State know that there is no money forthcoming for the Social Justice Speakers Program. New Jersey politicians might start to question the hiring of nutcase malcontents as faculty members, and maybe deranged moonbats will no longer be foisted upon impressionable young mush-minds. California may continue to try and lard their higher education system with trendy left-wing shibboleths, but even the Democrat-dominated legislature will be at pains to continue to find money to keep the gravy train rolling, especially as we also transition to single-payer health care and chase the bullet train to nowhere.

Our country is awash with horrible ideas these days as the radical left fully takes over the Democrat Party. Pampered and aging gentry radicals like Katrina vanden Heuvel no doubt envision a world where the masses rise up yet somehow don’t challenge her privileged place in society (she went to Princeton, no doubt on family trust funds, and I would hazard a guess that her daughter also attended Princeton on old money from her mother’s side). But ironically enough, their ill-considered plans might end up paving the way for actual higher education reform. There is bound to be lots of bad before any of the good comes along, but clipping the wings of the utter incompetents running public higher education is long overdue.


The Recasting of Prosecution of Illegal Border Crossers as an Attack on Children

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:27 am

Everywhere you look, people are talking about how Donald Trump is putting children in cages, and separating children from their families.

It’s accompanied by what is certainly sad audio of children crying because they have been separated from their parents.

It would be easy to get the impression that the Trump administration recently came to the decision to start arbitrarily separating families for cruel sport. A typical headline can be found in the New York Times: How Trump Came to Enforce a Practice of Separating Migrant Families. And yet that very article admits:

Technically, there is no Trump administration policy stating that illegal border crossers must be separated from their children. But the “zero tolerance policy” results in unlawful immigrants being taken into federal criminal custody, at which point their children are considered unaccompanied alien minors and taken away.

The lefties at PolitiFact elaborate:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April announced a “zero-tolerance” policy, meaning every person caught crossing the border illegally would be referred for federal prosecution.

A good number of these people are adult migrants traveling with children. By law, when adults are detained and criminally prosecuted, their children cannot be housed with them in jail. Instead, kids are placed in a Department of Health and Human Services shelter until they can be released to a legal guardian.

Past Presidents gave illegals a pass on prosecution if they brought their kids with them. Trump isn’t. That’s the difference.

Now: whether we have devoted sufficient resources to be able to actually enforce such a zero-tolerance policy is a separate question. But the media is simply taking the necessary consequence of a policy of prosecuting lawbreakers, and acting as though it is the entire point. It’s not. Prosecuting lawbreakers is the point.

Ultimately, someone who is not a citizen can keep their family together through a simple expedient: do not enter the United States of America illegally. If you want to enter, follow the laws and get in line with everyone else.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Troll Poll: Republicans Favor Kim Jong-un Over Pelosi

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:31 am

The Daily Beast trolls Republicans by publishing a poll showing Republicans have a more favorable view of Kim Jong-un than they have of Nancy Pelosi:

The poll of roughly 1,000 adults aged 18 and over was conducted June 14-15, shortly after President Trump’s historic summit with the North Korea dictator. According to the results, 19 percent of Republicans indicated they had a favorable view of Kim with 68 percent saying they had an unfavorable view (12 percent of voters overall had a favorable view of Kim, compared to 75 percent who viewed him unfavorably). That compared slightly better than the perception of Pelosi, who had a 17 percent favorable, 72 percent unfavorable rating among self-identified Republicans.

Pelosi, nevertheless, was only the second-most disliked figure on Capitol Hill. Her overall 29 percent favorable, 47 percent unfavorable rating was slightly better than the numbers for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). McConnell had an overall favorability rating of 20 percent with 43 percent viewing him unfavorable. (Self-identified Democrats, for what it’s worth, had a significantly more favorable opinion of McConnell than of Kim Jong Un.)

I have two reactions to this.

On one hand, I’m unsurprised and appalled, for obvious reasons. Kim is not the first murderous dictator who has risen in the estimation of Republicans after being praised by Trump, but the fact that this is a recurring phenomenon is disappointing in a very familiar sort of way.

On the other hand, I’m annoyed at the way the poll, and the story reporting it, both troll Republicans in various ways. First of all, there are other results unfavorable to Democrats that aren’t even mentioned. Examining the poll itself, one finds that 8% of Democrats approve of Kim Jong-un while only 10% of Democrats approve of Donald Trump. That is is well within the poll’s plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage point margin of error — as is the central point trumpeted by the story (19% of Republicans see Kim favorably while 17% see Pelosi favorably). Isn’t it worth mentioning that Democrats hate Trump so much that, as a group, they see him nearly as unfavorably as a man running the most twisted totalitarian society on the planet?

Then there are the questions not asked. Given that “President Trump was viewed favorably by 83 percent of Republicans, and just 10 percent of Democrats,” I’m sure we could find a leftist thug viewed more favorably by Democrats than that. They didn’t ask Democrats what they think of, say, Nicolas Maduro? If they wanted to troll Democrats the way they want to troll Republicans, maybe they could ask about Democrat approval of Xi Jinping while calling his economic policies socialistic.

Finally, Nancy Pelosi is an almost singular figure in terms of her lack of redeeming qualities. (I say “almost” singular because Hillary Clinton is similar. As is Donald Trump, if you put policy aside.)

Then we have this comment from the Daily Beast story:

Trump’s apparent stranglehold on Republican voters has also led them to buy into the notion that the mainstream media is out to get him in their coverage of the administration.

Presented with the statement “The mainstream media is biased against President Donald Trump,” 87 percent of Republicans surveyed agreed with 67 percent strongly agreeing. Only 20 percent of Democrats in the survey agreed with that sentiment.

I can’t stand Donald Trump and yet I agree with that statement. Does that mean Donald Trump has a “stranglehold” on me and my views? Um no. This is absurd.

So yeah. If you favor Kim Jong-un more than you favor Nancy Pelosi, your moral compass is way off. If you favor Kim Jong-un more than you favor Donald Trump, your moral compass is way off. There are certainly wild-eyed partisans holding one of these absurd beliefs on each side. Let’s stop pretending it’s a one-way street.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


#Winning: Ted Cruz Beats Jimmy Kimmel in One on One

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:04 am

Ted Cruz defeated Jimmy Kimmel in a game of one-on-one for charity:

“The reason this is happening is because after Game 7 of the [NBA] Western Conference Finals, I likened Sen. Cruz to a blobfish,” Kimmel explained, according to “And he did not like that … so he challenged me to a game of one-on-one. And I accepted.”

The two players agreed that the loser would donate $5,000 to a charity picked by the winner, but both later agreed to donate $10,000 to both charities, the Texas Tribune reported.

Cruz selected Generation One Texas, an anti-poverty organzation, while Kimmel chose the Texas Children’s Hospital, the Tribune reported.

No, no, Ted. You’re supposed to insult Kimmel’s appearance twice as hard. Haven’t you learned anything?

I bet the money that Ted Cruz pledged to charity actually goes to charity, and not to a portrait of Ted Cruz in his offices or some dishonest stunt like that.

I bet it doesn’t take months for the charities to get their money, either.

What a mensch. How I wish this guy were our president.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 188

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the fourth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Ich habe meine Zuversicht” (I have placed my confidence).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 4:26-34.

The Parable of the Growing Seed

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

The text of today’s piece is available here. The Gospel reading says that even when evidence of the Kingdom of God is as small and difficult to see as a mustard seed, we can place our trust and confidence in it. Similarly, the cantata says:

I have placed my confidence
in my faithful God,
there my hope rests firmly.

. . . .

Though He might conceal His love,
yet His heart secretly thinks upon it,
since He can never withdraw it;

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Quick Takes (Three Different Ones)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:53 am

We’ll Stop It.

FBI agent Peter Strzok tells his mistress in a text message, in response to her concern that Trump might win:

No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.

If I wanted to engage in Trump superfan-level sophistry, I’d obfuscate about what the meaning of the word “we,” is. (Comma included as a salute to Bill Clinton.) But this seems pretty clear to me, even though it’s to a mistress: it’s bias at a minimum and an admission of an intent to misuse law enforcement at worst. I’d like to see the larger context, but it’s hard to imagine it being exculpatory to the guy. Regardless, having a guy like this involved with any investigations related to Trump or Clinton was a big mistake.

New York A.G. Lawsuit Against Trump

New York Times:

The New York State attorney general’s office filed a scathingly worded lawsuit on Thursday taking aim at the Donald J. Trump Foundation, accusing the charity and the Trump family of sweeping violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign.

I have not had a chance to read the lawsuit, but anyone who denies that Trump has done at least shady things regarding charity either hasn’t paid attention to the news in two years or is a partisan hack who can’t be trusted. The matter has also been referred to the IRS. Oh, dear: another audit … just when we were about to get those tax returns, too.

Comey Private Emails

The I.G. report revealed that James Comey sometimes used personal email for FBI business. Now Hillary wants to pretend that her behavior and James Comey’s was the same:

Oh, please, you dishonest witch.

Allahpundit destroys this so thoroughly, all a time-pressed blogger needs to do is quote him:

The IG found that Comey’s habit of forwarding emails to his personal account was “inconsistent” with DOJ policy that official business should be conducted via personal email only when “exigent circumstances” require, a perfectly fair wrist slap. But what Comey did and what Clinton did are night and day. Comey used a personal account at Gmail, with all of the security that Google provides. Hillary used a personal homebrew server, which didn’t have the same robust security. Comey’s usage seems to have been for personal convenience with respect to certain messages containing attachments. Hillary’s usage was comprehensive — all messages routed to her personal server, which reeks of an effort to evade automatic archiving by government servers. And of course Comey’s use was confined to unclassified business. Hillary’s wasn’t, which is a big deal. And which, again, is why he would have been perfectly entitled to recommend indicting her. There’s staggering hypocrisy in Comey’s email practices, in other words, only if you overlook literally all of the distinguishing features that made her practices so risky and potentially criminal.

Which is just what she hopes to achieve by her tweet. She means to suggest that she and Comey are guilty of the same sin. If he did nothing wrong, neither did she. That’s her message, never mind the classified material that was mishandled, or the other shipping-container-sized scandal baggage she brought to the campaign, or her “deplorables” shots at working-class voters, or her arrogant neglect of Rust Belt campaigning, or a degree of personal unlikability so enormous that it somehow made Donald Trump viable for the presidency. She’s guilty of what Comey’s guilty of — nothing at all. The system was rigged.

He really should have arrested her when he had the chance.

Yes, he should have.

P.S. I hear Beldar actually read the I.G. report. I look forward to his thoughts about it.

P.P.S. If you get the musical reference in the headline, gold star for you. It’s a good reference. Almost worth a quick grin.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Commence Tearing Down the Statues Immediately

Filed under: General — JVW @ 8:10 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Add another dead white male to the ash heap of history:

A journal kept by Albert Einstein throughout his travels in the Far East, recently published by Princeton University Press, reveals xenophobic and racist attitudes that stand in stark contrast to the physicist’s legacy as a humanitarian and outspoken proponent of civil rights.

[. . . ]

But he also remarks on the people he meets, often using derogatory language to do so. His travel logs are particularly harsh on the Chinese. He says their children “are spiritless and look obtuse.”

“It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races,” he continues. “For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”

This daily outrage was brought to you by the good folks at NBC News. Say goodbye to the Einstein statue outside of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington.


Trump 2013: Openly Celebrating a Nuclear Deal Shows Weakness

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:14 am



No, it’s not news that a fool occupies the White House. But the hypocrisy is still newsworthy.

(H/t Allahpundit.)

Here’s a Sean Hannity “then and now” video. Embedding something from the Daily Show makes me throw up in my mouth a little, but the video is genuinely hilarious, and the source doesn’t matter when the hypocrisy is this stark:

No, it’s not news that Sean Hannity is an unprincipled fool. But the hypocrisy is still good for a laugh.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Trump: Sure, Kim’s a Killer, But Hey, Who Isn’t

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:13 pm

I’m not allowing comments on this post because I can’t bear to listen to people defend it.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back, where comments will be allowed according to the strict rules that apply there.]

GOP Cult of Personality Ousts Another Heretic

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

The New York Times:

Republican voters lashed out against traditional party leaders Tuesday, ousting Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina and nominating a conservative firebrand for Senate in Virginia, the latest illustration that fealty to President Trump and his hard-line politics is paramount on the right.

Mr. Sanford, a former governor once seen as a possible candidate for president, lost to Katie Arrington, a state lawmaker, in a closely contested primary, The Associated Press reported. Ms. Arrington had made the incumbent’s frequent criticism of Mr. Trump the centerpiece of her campaign. And the president endorsed her in an unexpected, and deeply personal, broadside against Mr. Sanford just three hours before the polls closed.

Sanford is a philanderer who disappeared in 2009, lied about the reasons, and joined his mistress in Argentina. All of these things would be forgiven and even defended if he ran around shouting “Make America Great Again” and otherwise kissing the ring of the manchild in the Oval Office. Instead, he chose to criticize Trump, and he got what all Trump critics get these days.

The message is, as I wrote in Quillette earlier this month, that viewpoint diversity on the issue of Donald Trump is not permitted on the right.

It might sound crazy to say that Donald Trump is beyond the reach of criticism. After all, isn’t he regularly pilloried on all the major networks, most of the cable news channels, and on the front pages of most national newspapers? Quite so: and this fact, if anything, causes his supporters to huddle closer, and reject or attack anyone who dares utter a critical word. This, in turn, creates an environment in which pundits and politicians on the Right are terrified to say what they really think.

The Republican Party is a cult of personality. Pointing that out is not popular — but then, cultists don’t like it when their cults are accurately described.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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