Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Suicides and a Jail Death in Anadarko, Oklahoma: Bitter, Angry and Frightened, Oklahomans will not vote for Hillary

Last January, the Washington Post reported on a spate of suicides in Anadarko, Oklahoma. Four people committed suicide over a period of less than two months. All were young, all were racial minorities, and all killed themselves with guns.

And last April, Darius Robinson, an African American father of seven, was killed in his Anadarko jail cell, asphyxiated by jail employees. Jailers say Robinson was trying to escape, but the Oklahoma Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide.  A small demonstration was organized a couple months after Robinson's death; about 50 people attended. Robinson, by the way, was not in jail for a violent crime; he was in the slammer for failing to pay child support.

You might think these tragedies would draw the attention of President Obama. Four desperate young people killed themselves with handguns--what a great opportunity for the President to talk about gun control. A black man strangled by his jailers while in police custody--that's as least as shocking as the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore/

Nevertheless, as far as I can determine, Barack Obama has said nothing about these deaths, and Hillary Clinton has said nothing about them. And, to the best of my knowledge, neither Al Sharpton nor Jessie Jackson has shown up in Anadarko.

Why? Because the Oklahomans don't matter. The Democratic political operatives have written off Oklahoma, and well they should. In the Democratic presidential primary, Oklahoma Democrats voted overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders--Bernie Sanders! And  God knows they didn't vote for Bernie because they are socialists. No, Oklahoma Democrats loath Hillary Clinton, and Bernie was their only alternative. And if Oklahoma Democrats loath her, you can imagine what Oklahoma Republicans think.

In truth, Oklahomans are bitter, angry and frightened. Outside a few pockets of urban prosperity--Oklahoma City, metropolitan Tulsa, and Bartlesville--the state is in deep depression. From the Winding Stair Mountains in the east to the short grass country of western Oklahoma, there are no jobs. Anadarko, my home town, may be the epicenter of Oklahoma's desperate condition. Abandoned houses, suicide, alcohol abuse, drug addiction--rural Oklahomans are among the casualties of the new global economy.

Hillary and Barack despise these people, and the Oklahomans know it.  Barack sneeringly dismissed poor white Americans generally when he said they comfort themselves with guns and religion. When Hillary condemned the "basket of deplorables," she was talking about the people I grew up with.

Eighty years ago, John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath, a tribute to the strength and courage of the Oklahomans who were driven off their land during the Dust Bowl years and migrated to California in rattletrap cars. "We're the people that live," Ma Joad says in the novel. "They can't wipe us out; they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, 'cause we're the people."

Do you think Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton have read The Grapes of Wrath? Not friggin' likely. Do you think they give a damn about contemporary Oklahomans who are suffering now just as much as their ancestors did during the Great Depression? No god damn way.

Image result for darius robinson death
Darius Robinson: "We're the people"


Sarah Kaplan.'It has brought us to our knees': Small Okla. town reeling from suicide epidemic. Washington Post, January 25, 2016. It https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/01/25/it-has-brought-us-to-our-knees-small-okla-town-reeling-from-suicide-epidemic/

Xin Xin Liu. Protesters Gather At Caddo Co. Courthouse After Inmate's Death, new9.com, July 22, 2016. Available at

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Liberal Media, the Presidential Election and the Battle of Bunker Hill: No Matter Who Wins the Election, the Integrity of American Journalism Is Dead

Higher education has become shockingly expensive, but at least it's more efficient. For example, you can get a fancy liberal arts degree now without even a passing knowledge of history. Really all you need to remember is this: Until very recently, America was run by a bunch of white, racist homophobes who owned slaves.  If you want to know more than that, just do a Google search.

Nevertheless, I believe historical events can sometimes provide us with valuable lessons for contemporary life. In my mind, the Battle of Bunker Hill, which took place on June 17, 1775, provides a useful metaphor for the collapse of journalistic integrity as the 2016 presidential election season gasps to a close.

As you may recall from your high-school history course, armed American colonists fortified the heights of Breed's Hill (not Bunker Hill) on the night of June 16, 1775. General William Howe, the British commander in Boston, sent troops to dislodge them.

British soldiers, closely packed in precise lines, charged up Breed's Hill and were repulsed. Howe sent them up a second time, and they were driven back again. Before organizing for a third assault, British officers allowed soldiers to remove their red woolen coats; and up again they went.

By this time, the Americans were almost out of ammunition. The British stormed the earthworks and drove the Americans off the hill. The British won the battle, but they suffered around 1,100 casualties, more than double the American losses.  When word of the victory made it back to England, someone said, "Another victory such as this, and we will be ruined."

The presidential election is now less than a month away. The elite media has backed Hillary Clinton with almost hysterical fervor--marching in closed-packed formations much like 18th century British soldiers. First, journalists disparaged Bernie Sanders, and when Bernie was bayoneted, they went after Trump.

New York Times op ed writers, CNN reporters,  and newspaper journalists across the United States published screed after screed about Donald Trump's defects while virtually ignoring Hillary's many flaws. Even so, enough facts have been uncovered from various news sources to establish that Hillary Clinton is a sneak, a liar, and a crook.

Hillary may well win. If so, she will have the mainstream media to thank.  But the casualty list is shocking. Dozens of journalists, pundits  and television reporters sold their integrity to make sure Hillary gets elected. When the election is over, these people will be known for what they are--just a bunch of cowardly hacks: Frank Bruni, Gloria Borger, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Paul Krugman, Nicholas Kristoff, Thomas Friedman, Froma Harrop, Steve and Cokie Roberts, Donna Brazile, and the New York Times editorial board will be on the casualty list.

In my view, these people squandered their integrity just to suck up to a venal schemer--a reptilian self-promoter who has about as much personal regard for them as she does for an Oklahoma Republican.

It is much like the battle of Bunker Hill. When the November election results are in, American journalists may celebrate Hillary's victory, but they will also know, deep in their hearts, that the integrity of their profession was ruined along the way.

Image result for battle of bunker hill and "william howe"
"Another victory such as this . . ."

Medieval America: Victor David Hanson correctly diagnoses the collapse of American liberal democracy

It is difficult to convey a brilliant insight in less than 2,000 words, but Victor David Hanson has done it. In a brief essay published last week, Hanson said it is inaccurate to compare our declining American civilization to the fall of the Roman Empire. In truth, Hanson argued, our nations is becoming like medieval Europe.

Like today's America, Hanson points out, medieval Europe could boast some fine universities where the sum of human knowledge increased. But the universities of that day, like our modern American universities, had strict speech codes. The sun revolved around the earth, and woe to any medieval scholar who argued otherwise.  And today of course professors are permitted to express only one point of view on important global issues like climate change.

Humanist scholars of medieval times "wrote esoteric treatises than no one read," Hanson writes. "These works were sort of like the incomprehensible 'theory' articles of university humanities professors who are up for tenure."

Hanson definitely got that right. Not to mention the 10,000 law review articles that law professors and their students publish every year even as the core principles of our legal system disintegrate.

In my view, Hanson's most trenchant comparison between contemporary America and medieval Europe relates to the economy. Today, as Hanson notes, one fifth of Americans own absolutely nothing or have negative worth, much like medieval serfs. In fact, 18 percent of adult Americans have student-loan debt, which they are permitted to work off by donating a percentage of their income to the government over 20 or 25 years--just like peasants.

Indeed, America becomes more like medieval society with each passing day. The middle class--once the glory of liberal democracy--gets smaller every year. The nation's elites fly in private jets, work in fortress-like offices, and are protected by private security agencies; they are truly lords and barons surrounded by modern-day moats. Their kids go to the best private schools. And the elites do a good job of protecting their income from taxes.

Meanwhile the rest of us ride the subway or commute to work on crumbling freeways. We pay taxes at a higher rate than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, and we send our kids to mediocre schools.  Defined-benefit retirement plans are fast disappearing, and we put our puny savings into the stock market because the elite have declared that we can earn nothing on our savings if we invest anywhere else.

Everywhere, the non-elites are getting poorer, but the slide into serfdom is most evident in rural America. In my own hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, the little family shops and stores of my childhood are all empty and boarded up. If you want to buy something--almost anything at all--you must go to Walmart. Hundreds of houses have been abandoned, including the one I lived in as a kindergarten child. Drug addiction and suicide are up; decent jobs have disappeared.

Americans know in their hearts that our slide into medievalism will accelerate after the national election regardless of whether we elect a buffoon or a criminal to be our President.  And the elites have decreed that the choice between a buffoon or a criminal is the only choice we have.


Victor David Hanson. Medieval America, Town Hall, October 13, 2016. Available at http://townhall.com/columnists/victordavishanson/2016/10/13/medieval-america-n2231213http://townhall.com/columnists/victordavishanson/2016/10/13/medieval-america-n2231213

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Andrew Kramer of the New York Times reports on Russian skulduggery: Sophomoric journalism

Andrew Kramer wrote a remarkably sophomoric story about Russian skulduggery that appeared on the front page of today's New York Times. Titled "Yet Another Russian Deception, Full of Hot Air," Kramer tells readers what they surely already knew: the Russian military engages in deceptive tactics to befuddle Russia's enemies. Duh!

Even the title of this puff piece is inaccurate. Reading the story, we learn that the Russians have constructed inflatable mock weapons--including jets and tanks--which appear real from a distance. But the decoys are not filled with hot air as the headline suggests--just forced air. Apparently, the headline writer sacrificed accuracy for the sake of cuteness.

Of course, deception is one of the arts of war, as Kramer passingly acknowledged. That's what the Trojan Horse was about, if I recall correctly. The United States assembled thousands of mock airplanes and military vehicles in England during World War II in order to deceive the Germans about the Allies' plans for the invasion of Normandy.

But this is different, Kramer insists: "The Russian doctrine of maskirovka [deception], though differs from deception operations by other major militaries in its blending of strategic and tactical deception and in its use in war and in peace."

What an inane sentence! The New York Times copy editor who let that sentence get by should be fired.

I suspect this story was published to buttress Hillary Clinton's hysterical charge that the Russians are leaking embarrassing emails about her to sabotage her Presidential bid.  Of course this is nonsense. Hillary is exactly who Vladimir Putin and the Russian military would like to have as the American President. After all, the Russians did so well when Obama was at the helm; Ukraine, Crimea, Syria. With Hillary in charge, the Russians will probably open a naval base in Maryland.

We have little hard evidence that Russia is hacking Hillary's emails, but if it is, it is not for the purpose of destabilizing our political processes.  We are doing that quite well on our own. If the Russians are tampering with email, they are doing it, I believe, solely to show their contempt for America's political leaders or perhaps to remind Americans that they are not as stupid as we like to portray them.

The mainline media's coverage of Russian military activities has been remarkably sloppy. Journalists  routinely describe Vladimir Putin as a  macho bully or a "swaggering strongman," as if insults are a suitable substitute for analysis.

But in truth, the Russians are challenging America's status as the world's leading national power. Kramer got one thing right when he quoted Colonel David M. Gantz. "[The Russians] look at war like chess," Gantz observed, "and we look at it as checkers."


Andrew E. Kramer. Yet Another Russian Deception, New York Times, October 13, 2016, p. A1. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/13/world/europe/russia-decoy-weapon.html?_r=0

Paul Krugman Putin's Bubble Bursts. New York Times, December 18, 2014. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/19/opinion/paul-krugman-putins-bubble-bursts.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Hungarians vote to reject the European Union's quota for Muslim refugees and get scolded by the New York Times: Is Christian culture worth saving?

The New York Times Editorial Board is displeased with the Hungarians, which must distress them greatly. Last week, Hungarian voters overwhelmingly rejected the European Union's directive for Hungary to accept 160,000 mostly Muslim refugees. The vote was not close; 98 percent of the voters cast their ballots against EU's migrant quotas.

The Times Editorial Board blamed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for the election results. Orban had urged voters to reject the EU's dictate on Muslim refugees, framing the referendum  as an attempt to defend Europe's "Christian values."

The quotation marks around "Christian values," by the way, were inserted by the Times, no doubt to suggest Orban's argument was bogus or insincere.   Of course the Times, unencumbered by any regard for Christian values, wants Hungary to accept Muslim refugees.  Indeed, the Times pooh-poohed any concerns about the security risks that Muslim refugees present, not to mention the threat to an ancient Christian culture.

The Times editorial professed to be knowledgeable about Hungarian history, noting that Western nations accepted roughly 200,000 Hungarian refugees who fled their country after the failed uprising against the Russians in 1956.

But history shows that the Hungarians have won the right to protect their Christian values. Hungarians and their European allies drove the Turks out of Buda in 1686, stopping the advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe..

Robert Royal, author of a brilliant book on the Catholic martyrs of the twentieth century, had this to say about Catholicism in Hungary under Russian rule.
The fate of the [Catholic] Church in Hungary exhibits a regrettable soft tragedy. Historically, the Church there has always been close to the government. When the Communists came to power after the Second World War, many within the Church thought it prudent to continue the traditional pattern Only the Hungarian Primate, Cardinal Joszef Mindszenty, archbishop of Esztergom, resisted vigorously. . . . As a result of his heroic and lonely stand, he was tortured for forty days straight and then, weak and unable to resist any longer, forced to make public statements supportive of the regime. Six hundred priests went to prison with him. All were threatened with deportation and forced labor in Siberia. With their confinement, virtually all heroism in the Hungarian Church disappeared . . . 
Today, as Royal noted, Hungarian Catholicism is not robust. My wife and I attended Mass at St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest last year, and we were surrounded by mostly old people, some of whom seemed surprised to see a couple of Americans show up to celebrate Mass in  the Magyar language.

Nevertheless, the Hungarians should be commended for saying no to an influx of Muslim migrants who will only further weaken Hungary's historic Christian culture and who may well pose a significant security threat.

Of course, the Times has no regard for Christian culture and little concern about Islamic terrorism. The Times Editorial Board members, after all, are surrounded by tight security both at home and at work. I doubt they lost any sleep about the rubes who died at the hands of Islamic terrorists in San Bernardino and Orlando.

But I, for one,  am sympathetic to the Hungarians. Millions of Central Europeans have died for their Christian faith over the last hundred years--victims of Communism and the Nazis. They are entitled to reject the dictates of EU bureaucrats regarding the alarming influx of Muslim refugees--driven out of their countries unfortunately by the consequences of the feckless and vacillating policies of the Obama administration toward the Middle East.

Image result for siege of budapest 1686


Editorial. No Way to Treat Refugees. New York Times, October 10, 2016. Accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/topic/destination/hungary

Robert Royal. The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History. New York: Crossroads Books, 2000.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Department of Education strips ACICS of accrediting authority: It's time to pull the plug on the rapacious for-profit college industry

Turn out the lights
The party's over
They say that
All good things must end

Willy Nelson
Turn Out the Lights

Last month, the Department of Education stripped the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) of its accrediting authority--basically signing ACICS's death certificate. ACICS will appeal of course, and there may be litigation; but for now at least ACICS is essentially out of business.

ACICS accredited 245 post-secondary institutions, mostly for-profit colleges.  These institutions are scrambling to find a new accrediting agency, which is a life-or-death issue for them. DOE requires colleges to be accredited by  a government-approved accrediting agency in order to receive federal student aid money.  Without regular infusions of federal cash, none of these colleges would last a month.

According to Inside Higher Ed, more than 100 colleges that were accredited by ACICS have applied for accreditation with another accrediting body--the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).  ACCSC also accredits for-profit colleges (more than 300), and many for-profits will probably find a new accrediting home with this agency.

But, as Willy Nelson once observed, when the party's over, someone should turn out the lights. And the party is about over for the rapacious for-profit college industry.  

Corinthian Colleges and ITT have filed for bankruptcy, leaving thousands of students in the lurch. As state and federal regulatory agencies step up the pressure on the predatory for-profit college industry, more for-profit schools will close. DOE has more than 250 proprietary schools on its "Heightened Cash Monitoring" watch list,an indication that the financial viability of this industry is shaky.  Publicly traded for-profits have seen their stock prices plummet as investors bolt for the exits.

Shutting down the for-profit colleges will be messy. The for-profits have been incredibly litigious, and they will certainly sue to protect their interests. But with each passing day, more unsuspecting and unsophisticated young people takes out student loans to attend  for-profit colleges; and many of them never recoup their investments. Indeed almost half of the people who take out federal student loans to attend a for-profit college default within five years of beginning repayment.

It is going to be ugly, and its going to be complicated. But the time has come to turn out the lights on the for-profit college industry, which has harmed so many innocent and unsuspecting American young people.


Scott Jaschik. Slight Drop in Colleges in Heightened Cash MonitoringInside Higher Education, July 25, 2016. Accessible at https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2016/07/25/slight-drop-colleges-heightened-cash-monitoring?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=8991789a59-DNU20160725&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-8991789a59-198564813

Paul Fain, Hundreds of colleges, many for-profits, seek a new accreditor. Inside Higher Ed, October 6, 2016. Accessible at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/10/06/hundreds-colleges-many-profits-seek-new-accreditor

Adam Looney & Constantine Yanellis.  A Crisis in student loans? Brookings Institution, September 10, 2015. Accessible at: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/projects/bpea/fall-2015_embargoed/conferencedraft_looneyyannelis_studentloandefaults.pdf

Monday, October 10, 2016

America's "Men Without Work": It's not their fault

Almost a third of American men in their prime working years are not working. Thirty-two percent of men older than 20 are out of the labor force--double the rate in 1948. And a lot of unemployed men aren't even looking for work. According to Nicholas Eberstadt,  author of Men Without Work, only 15 percent of American men in the 25-54 age group who didn't work in 2014 said they were unemployed because they could not find a job.

Of course some of these men are disabled, but the percentage of men sitting on the sidelines because of some certified disability seems too high. Eberstadt reports that there were 134 workers for every officially disabled person in 1960 (as summarized by George Will). Today, there is one disabled person for every 16 workers--in spite of the fact that the American workplace has become much safer over the last 50 years.

Eberstadt argues that unemployment has become a "viable option" for millions of American men, and George Will implicitly scolded this vast population--saying these unemployed men have chosen a life of "protracted idleness."

But I know some of these men, and I think most would prefer to be working. Here are some examples of men I know personally.

  • A friend who worked in the petrochemical industry was laid off in his 50s when the company he worked for merged with another company. He found various part-time jobs at minimal pay and then took his Social Security benefits early--at age 62. He and his wife are living frugally on Social Security income and modest savings.
  • A guy I know worked as an architectural draftsman but he didn't upgrade his skills when  computer-assisted drawings (CAD) fundamentally changed the nature of his craft by greatly speeding up the drafting process and making it less expensive. He is not lazy. I've seen his enormous garden, from which he derives a substantial amount of his food.
  • Another friend worked many years in public education and gained a reputation for being an effective disciplinarian in chaotic urban schools. But the work burned him out, and he took his state pension early. He does carpentry work and cabinet work from time to time, but essentially lives off his pension.
I  come in contact with unemployed men all the time, and few of them are happy. No wonder the suicide rate for middle-aged white Americans has gone up substantially in recent years, along with death from alcohol- and drug-related causes.

In my opinion, this doleful trend cannot be explained by laziness. There are lots of reasons.

First, the nation's economy has failed working-class and middle-class Americans--which is what Donald Trump has been saying with considerable effect. Millions of Americans have been shoved out of the workforce as low-skill and medium-skill jobs have gone overseas.  And of course, our multinational corporations don't give a damn about the millions of Americans who have been thrown out of work. Profits are greater if goods are manufactured by exploited Asians rather than middle-class Americans.

Second, Americans have been betrayed by our educational system. The United States has a crummy educational system. Too many people graduate from high school without the  minimum reading and math skills they need to find a job or to profit from postsecondary education. 

And postsecondary education is a disaster. Our government is shoveling money into predatory for-profit colleges that have ripped off our most vulnerable young people--minorities and first-generation college students. Our elite liberal arts colleges obsess on race and sexual identity and care more about creating "safe spaces" than they do about producing problem solvers. Our public institutions have become vast bureaucratic mazes run by spineless and clueless administrative robots.

No wonder so many working-age men are unemployed. They didn't get the skills they needed to be productive workers in our post-industrial economy. Many of them tried to get those skills and wound up with no skills and a lot of student-loan debt.

Third, American cultural institutions no longer respect and support the American family. There was a time when our government, our churches, and our civic institutions honored the American family; and it was universally understood that the foundations of our culture rested on extended families that nurtured children and provided essential support for their members in times of trouble. I thank God I am part of such a family. 

But all that is falling away. And this distressing trend, in my view, contributes to a vast subculture of working-age men who do not work. At one time family obligations and a personal sense of honor prompted men to work to support their families--even if that meant working for poverty wages under humiliating conditions.

But many men no longer recognize family obligations. They do not work and save so their children can go to college. Rather their children are expected to take out loans to pay for their college education. They do not recognize a moral responsibility to be the breadwinner for their wives and children; women are expected to work. In fact, our society celebrates the fact that it now takes two working adults instead of one to support a family--as if every working woman is a lawyer or a brain surgeon instead of working as clerk in convenience store, which is the reality for millions of working American women.

It's not their fault

In short, the high percentage of unemployed men cannot be explained by indolence. Our culture, our government, our colleges and schools, and our post-industrial economy have conspired to create a world in which millions of American men see no point in working. And to suggest--as some commentators have done--that this calamitous trend is attributable to laziness completely misses the mark.


Nicholas Eberstadt. Men Without Work: America's Invisible Crisis (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, 2016).

George Will, America's 'quiet catastrophe': Millions of idle men. Washington Post, October 5, 2016. Accessible at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americas-quiet-catastrophe-millions-of-idle-men/2016/10/05/cd01b750-8a57-11e6-bff0-d53f592f176e_story.html?utm_term=.d45b9f19bab9

Anne  Case and Angus Deaton. Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white
non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century.  Accessible at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/10/29/1518393112.full.pdf

Editorial. Death Among Middle Aged Whites. New York Times, November 5, 2015.

Katherine A. Hempstead and Julie A. Phillips. Rising Suicide Among Adults Aged
40–64 Years: The Role of Job and Financial Circumstances.  American Journal of Preventive Medicine 84(5):491-500 (2015). Accessible at: http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(14)00662-X/pdf

Jason Iuliano. An Empirical Assessment of Student Loan Discharge and the Undue Hardship
Gina Kolata. Deaths Rates Rising Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds. NewYork Times, November 3, 2015. Accessibe at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/health/death-rates-rising-for-middle-aged-white-americans-study-finds.html

Betsy McKay. The Death Rate Is Rising for Midle-Aged Whites. Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2015. Accessible at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-death-rate-is-rising-for-middle-aged-whites-1446499495