Patterico's Pontifications

8/4/2023

Weekend Open Thread – Guest Bloggers in Secure Yet Undisclosed Locations

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:53 am



[guest post by JVW]

With both guest bloggers on super-secret missions on behalf of brand awareness for Patterico’s Pontifications, this Weekend Open Thread might end up being somewhat slapdash and haphazard. I’m starting this on Tuesday night in the hopes of getting a little bit up every day, but the final product will be what it’s gonna be. With that, it’s rosin on the bow and here we go:

Item 1 – Nicholas Kristof, Affirmative Action Kid
The Chronicle of Higher Education asks why our old friend Nicholas Kristof is claiming to have been the beneficiary of affirmative action, believing that growing up in rural Oregon made him exotic and thus and interesting candidate in the eyes of Harvard’s Admissions Office, when in fact his background was fairly straightforward by Harvard’s standards:

In a recent column, The New York Times’s Nicholas Kristof explained that he had been a beneficiary of affirmative action: “Elite colleges were looking for farm kids from low-income areas to provide diversity. So a school that I had never visited, Harvard, took an enormous risk and accepted me, and I became a token country bumpkin to round out a class of polished overachievers. In time, Harvard gave me a wonderful education, transformed my life and set me on a path to becoming a columnist — which is why you’re stuck reading this.”

Readers were quick to point out that both of Kristof’s parents were professors. His father, Ladis Kristof, was born in a part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire now in Ukraine; he was imprisoned by the Nazis and eventually made it to the United States, where he graduated from Reed College, in Oregon, in 1955. According to Reed’s alumni magazine, Ladis became “a political scientist of international renown; a Fulbright Scholar to Romania, and a visiting professor at universities in India, Moldova, Poland, and Romania.” Nicholas’s mother, Jane McWilliams, was also a professor; she retired emerita at Portland State.

So Kristof was a double-professor brat with exactly the kind of advantages that might make one unusually competitive when applying for college — no first-generation college student here. Far from taking “an enormous risk,” Harvard was making a very safe bet. Why does Kristof work so hard to imply otherwise?

Mr. Kristof no doubt wrote a stirring essay about getting up at dawn to feed the chickens, milk the cows, bale the hay, hitch up the family’s one ox to the rusty old plow and make a pass at the north field, and then walk the four miles to his one-room schoolhouse where the room was illuminated with kerosene and heated with a coal stove. But maybe he really is onto something. We’ve pointed out before that affirmative action as practiced by Harvard was far more beneficial to middle-class and upper-class minorities than it was to kids from the mean streets, so it’s only fair that Mr. Kristof sees himself as an extension of that phony-baloney program.

Item 10 – Not Looking So Great for the USWNT
The United States Women’s National Team has thus far been incredibly underwhelming at the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament being jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand. After a rather pedestrian 3-0 victory over Vietnam, a team the U.S. women were expected to trounce by somewhere around twice that margin, the team played absolutely uninspired tie games with Holland, ranked ninth in the world, and then Portugal, ranked twenty-first. Their record of one victory versus two draws places the U.S., who entered the tournament as the world’s number one ranked team, into the elimination round as the second finisher in their group, placing them in a win-or-go-home game on Sunday morning against Sweden, ranked as the world’s number three team. Should they survive that match, their next opponent would be either Japan, ranked eleventh, or Norway, ranked twelfth, and it would only get harder from there.

Item 11 – Third Time Is the Charm
This ultra-tolerant attitude towards criminality is really paying off in the Bay Area:

CNN senior national correspondent Kyung Lah said her rental car was broken into while she was on assignment in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, marking the third time in the last year her car has been broken into while she was on assignment in the Bay Area.

Lah said in a series of posts on X that she was in Oakland shooting a story about crime when her “completely empty” car was broken into.

“We were across the street— this happened in seconds,” she said, adding in a second post that “Even tho the car is empty, the thieves break in and lower the seat so they can steal anything in the trunk.”

[. . .]

Back in March, Lah shared that she and CNN producer Jason Kravarik had their bags stolen out of their rental car while on assignment at San Francisco’s city hall for a story about the city’s rampant crime.

While the pair were conducting an interview at city hall, thieves broke into their car and snatched their bags “in under 4 seconds,” despite the crew having hired private security to keep watch.

[. . .]

This time around, an employee for the rental-car company told Lah that of the 250 cars returned to the lot yesterday, 27 had been broken into — more than 10 percent of returned cars.

How long until the first politician complains about the rising cost of rental car rentals and car insurance in the Bay Area, and blames greedy corporations for gouging the hard-working citizen?

Item 100 – Suing College Accreditation Cartels
Florida pushes the anti-woke agenda further by suing the Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools. George Leef has the details:

College accreditation used to be the most soporific of topics. Almost nobody was interested in it because accreditation meant so little. Accrediting agencies had their standards that kept degree mills from fooling people into thinking they were real colleges. Nothing wrong with that, but it wasn’t a matter of national concern.

In recent years, however, accreditation has become highly controversial. The reason is that the accrediting agencies have ceased to be neutral parties who apply reasonable standards to ensure that students are not squandering their federal student-aid funds on dodgy schools that are just interested in cashing in on easy money. Instead, the accreditors have become activists who want to direct how colleges and universities will be run. They have badly overstepped their boundaries, and that has now triggered a lawsuit against the Department of Education.

You can see where the rest of the story is going, but click through to the article for full details.

Item 101 – The Summer of Strikes Roils the Golden State
In addition to the Writers Guild of America strike, joined in solidarity by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the hotel workers strikes ongoing throughout Southern California, comes word that some pretty high-paid state workers might also take to the picket lines:

The union representing doctors and psychiatrists working in California correctional facilities said that 91% of voting members authorized a strike Monday. Non-competitive salaries, strenuous working conditions and an overreliance on higher-paid contracted doctors, make it difficult to hire staff physicians, said Dr. Stuart Bussey, president of the umbrella Union of American Physicians and Dentists.

[. . .]

The biggest sticking point is salaries. Though doctors and psychiatrists pull down between $285,000 and $343,000 annually, according to California Correctional Health Care Services, temporary contracted workers make twice as much, said Dr. Nader Wassef, psychiatrist and chief of staff at Napa State Hospital.

“I am not going to claim poverty. What I’m trying to say is if we plan on getting trained, qualified psychiatrists to treat these patients, we are not going to get any because we are not competitive,” Wassef said.

The vacancy rate among on-site psychiatrists exceeded 50% in June, according to court documents filed by the state in an ongoing lawsuit over prison conditions and prisoner safety. Among all psychiatrists, including telehealth providers, the vacancy rate was 35%.

More than 20% of primary care doctor positions are vacant, California Correctional Health Care Services told CalMatters in an unsigned statement Tuesday. The agency did not respond to questions about contractor pay.

Lucky we have a state dominated by the union-friendly political party, right? But of course that same party receives massive donations from both sides in the Hollywood and the hotel strikes, and they have the challenge of finding the budget money to help pay for all of those prison sawbones and shrinks. Good luck to them.

Item 110 – More on Strike-mania in Southern California
Taylor Swift brings her “Eras” tour to Los Angeles tonight [this is being drafted on Thursday] for the first of six sold-out concerts at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. Some 400,000+ tickets have been sold for the shows. Estimates are that Ms. Swift herself realizes a net profit of about $5 million for every show she plays (there are other claims it is closer to three times that amount), and some studies suggest that her 46 shows in 17 U.S. cities this summer will bring $4.6 billion dollars in economic activity over a five month period.

So naturally the aforementioned striking hotel workers want Ms. Swift to cancel her Los Angeles shows in solidarity with their cause. The workers are demanding an immediate raise of $5 per hour, followed by guaranteed raises of $3 per hour each year over the next two years. They also want healthcare, pensions, and no immigration checks via the eVerify system. The union, Unite Here Local 11, even got some of the more dopey and economically-illiterate California politicians such as hypocritical Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis; Patterico’s and my County Supervisor, Janice Hahn; and a whole host of other pandering Democrats to sign on to a letter asking Ms. Swift to postpone her Los Angeles concerts until the strike is settled, as if tens of thousands of young Swifties and their angry parents would then force those mean old hotels to immediately pay up. The delusion of labor-owned Democrats knows no bounds, even if Ms. Swift has recently outed herself as a typical entertainment leftie with all of the right political beliefs. Here’s wishing her a successful run at SoFi this extended weekend anyway.

Item 111 – Dianne Feinstein: Too Far Gone to Manage Her Own Affairs But Still Able to Serve in the Senate
The ending to Dianne Feinstein’s grossly overrated career keeps getting more and more sad. Last week we had the spectacle of her yet again acting bewildered in a Defense Committee hearing and having to be stage-managed by her colleagues. Now news comes that her daughter is exercising power of attorney to take care of the Senators personal legal affairs:

The daughter of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has been given power of attorney over the sitting senator and is handling the 90-year-old’s legal affairs.

Katherine Feinstein, 66, has filed two lawsuits on her mother’s behalf in an effort to gain access to the estate of the senator’s late husband. The senator’s decision to delegate management of her affairs comes as Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill argue whether Feinstein is no longer fit for office.

Katherine’s first lawsuit on her mother’s behalf relates to a California beach house owned by the senator’s late husband, Richard Blum. The lawsuit argues that Feinstein is seeking to sell the house in order to raise funds for her ongoing medical treatments.

The second lawsuit challenges the appointment of two other trustees in Blum’s estate: Michael Klein, a longtime lawyer for Blum, and Marc Scholvinck, a business partner of Blum’s, according to The New York Times.

It’s a sad reflection on the broken one-party political system in California which kept electing her long after it was apparent that she was not up to the job, and it’s a sad reflection on her party which keeps her in place in order to hold down an important spot on the Judiciary Committee, where her usefulness is in rubber-stamping President Biden’s nominees. A sad way for her to cement her (at best) mediocre legacy.

Item 1000 – Is this DeSantis-Newsom Thing on, or What?
Unannounced Presidential candidate Gavin Newsom has been out on the hustings challenging announced Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis to a debate over which state model — Newsom’s California vs. DeSantis’s Florida — is more stable and sane. After (rightly) ignoring his West Coast antagonist, the governor of America’s Penis now seems to be poised for a fight. Noah Rothman, for one, believes this might be a fine and necessary thing:

The California model and the Florida model are wildly distinct theories of how to balance economic optimization against the need to maximize human happiness. They are in competition already, and it would be valuable to hash out those distinctions in plain terms on a debate stage. If these two governors can respectfully advocate their respective philosophical approaches to governance, it would greatly clarify the stakes of the coming presidential contest. Indeed, such an engagement would likely prove vastly more informational than one defined by two aged, cantankerous bloviators whose highest aspirations for the country are to ensure that it doesn’t put them or their loved ones in jail.

He also recognizes that this could just turn into a pointless shitshow:

Of course, a DeSantis–Newsom debate could also devolve into bickering, point-scoring, and competing one-liners. If this debate becomes a contest of personalities, DeSantis’s deficiencies in that area could prove fatal. But if Hannity could keep the participants in this deliberation focused on arguing their competing theories of societal organization, it wouldn’t just be a far healthier political exercise than any to which Americans have been privy for many years; it would also showcase the superiority of the conservative model of state governance. And it might go a long way toward convincing the voting public that Florida’s state-level experiments deserve to go national.

In any case, I would sooner tune into this debate than any involving you-know-who. If the majority of Americans look at the California model versus the Florida model and determine that they like better the way the Golden State is managing things, then at least we can drop the pretense that the United States is still (barely) a center-right nation.

Enjoy the weekend. The summer is winding down and the kids will be back to school soon.

– JVW


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