Blog plug: Raising Asperger’s Kids

And now for something completely different:

One of my tweeple, aspergers2mom, runs a very interesting blog about her experiences raising two sons with Asperger Syndrome. If you have children or relatives with AS, autism, ADD/ADHD, or PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified), you will find a lot of good stuff there. And if you have friends/significant others who just drive you up the wall with their geekishness, the blog may also be helpful: the line between a real serious geek and a mild AS case is quite blurry. (Like with many things psychological, the difference between a personality trait and a personality disorder — or an intellectual idiosyncrasy and a developmental disorder — is mostly a matter of degree rather than kind.)

Check out today’s post especially. Thanks so much for sharing, Elise.

On being a closeted conservative in academia

Insty linked to two great posts by Megan McArdle on liberal bias in academia. The first, which she got lots of vigorous reactions (and hate mail) too, points out the laughably lopsided distribution of liberals vs. conservatives in academia (we’re talking 200/1 ratios in some disciplines). The second gives a rundown of all the lame excuses proffered by apologists, which she facetiously compares to “oh, women are happier in the kitchen and blacks don’t want responsibility” rationalizations for gender and racial discrimination.

Academia is probably the quintessential New Class career path, and in my day job I get to deal with a great many academics, mostly in the hard sciences. I can testify that even in the hard sciences — where politics is rarely an issue in tenure decisions — there is very strong peer pressure. Let me quote an Email I got:

I was at [a major university in the Midwest] at the time of 0bama’s candidacy and quickly learned to keep my political opinions to myself. I was prepared to like 0bama (potentially the first black president and all) but quickly realized he was going to be at best a crooked hack politician in the Chicago mold, and at worst a radical the likes of which the USA hadn’t seen. Typically I was the only person in the room who did not think 0bama was the second coming of JC [well, he does resemble Jimmy Carter, no? — Ed.], and I lost count how many times I heard remarks to the effect that any opposition to his candidacy could only be motivated by racism. I ended up moving to a red state where at least I could open my mouth with impunity — and even here I am one of only two conservatives in my department and generally avoid the subject of politics. Note my field is [a basic science], not English literature or sociology.

I’m the sort of person who doesn’t give a rat’s backside what anybody thinks of him. Even so, it got to me at times and was a factor in deciding where to live next. I can only imagine how this would affect a person more sensitive to peer pressure — probably “adapt or leave”.

Earlier, Insty reproduced an Email he got from a “conservative in the closet” in academia, with some reminiscences of his own added. (Thankfully, Insty works in an unusually supportive environment. He does point, whimsically, to his usefulness to the university administration as a “token” libertarian — and I am not 100% sure he is joking.) An excerpt from the Email:

I have used this comparison [with being in the closet about one’s sexual orientation] myself, it is apt, and it doesn’t just apply to students. You hide yourself in plain sight. You make comments that are carefully crafted to allow you to make small talk, and which will allow your colleagues to think you’re in agreement with them, but which nevertheless satisfy your own sense of integrity. You never lie. You just make comments and allow them to draw their own conclusions. A classic example is the way I’ll make comments about politics, saying things like “I don’t trust politicians, period.” My liberal colleagues will nod and agree. We’re all in agreement, they believe. It gets easy after a while. You make comments about Marxist ideology that are really rather neutral, such as how you see similarities between Marx’s views, and something else. You leave it unstated that in fact you think this is appalling, while they nod and smile at the continuing relevance of Marxism in today’s society. Everyone is happy. I don’t feel quite so happy when someone says something about “stupid fucking conservatives” (I’m quoting exact words here), but I just nod, and say “ugh-huh”.

I’ve just been watching the first series of Mad Men, and I’m struck by the gay guy Salvatore Romano, and how similar his behavior is to me, only I’m hiding my politics, not my sexuality. There are also the classic moments, whereby fellow believers in academia carefully try to work out if you are one of “us”. I remember one guy who heard me comment on how some architecture reminded me of something I read in The Fountainhead, which was enough to alert him. Later we went out for a drink. I remember the nervous moment (for both of us) where he finally came out and asked me, “so what are your political / economic beliefs?” I chickened out, tempered, and said, “well, perhaps more to the center than most academics” and countered, “what are yours?” Reassured, he was willing to admit to conservative leanings. Then I was willing to admit it too. Then at last we could talk about our true feelings, with it clearly and openly stated that (of course) none of this was ever, ever, ever, to go beyond our own private conversations. (I also learned to never ever, in future, mention Rand within hearing of any academics, in case I accidently revealed myself again.) In another case, the vital clue was our shared interest in science fiction, and over the weeks there followed careful probing concerning which authors we liked, until we eventually discretely revealed ourselves. Now he lends me books saying “don’t let any of your colleagues see you with this.”

When (if) I get tenure, I toy with the idea of coming out of the closet. I don’t think I will though. Perhaps my job will be more secure, but I have to live and work with these people for years to come. I prefer to work in a friendly environment. I don’t want to be the token conservative, and I don’t want to be the one who speaks at meetings while everyone else rolls their eyes and exchanges meaningful glances.

Needless to say, don’t under any circumstances use my real name if you choose to refer to my email. Thanks!

Aside from the “closet” metaphor (make sure to check out this blog, BTW), this behavior reminds me of the submarine warfare tactic known as “silent running“. Make no unnecessary sound, and run the electric engines of the sub at an RPM rate calculated to be minimally detectible by passive sonar.

Megan makes the case that a combination of discrimination, peer pressure, and self-selection is at work. I can second the latter: my guess is that most conservatives would consider “studies” fields to be wastes of time for all considered, and Erin O’Connor of Critical Mass is an example of a tenured literature professor who eventually left academia in disgust. But this should be much less of an issue in hard sciences fields (except, obviously, for environmental science and climate studies).

If I’d gotten a dollar for every time I heard somebody refer to academics as “the most self-centered people on the planet” I’d be rich now. And there is indeed a rub, if not necessarily the rub. Like any highly competitive creative field, it self-selects for egomaniacs — and perhaps to the benefit of all concerned. (To give an example outside academia: where would Apple or Microsoft be today if Steve Jobs or Bill Gates were modest, self-effacing people?) Now whenever you put a lot of people of (real or perceived) high talent together, one gets not only the backbiting everybody in academia knows (I’ve seen academic knife-fights to the death over completely apolitical scholarly disputes in physics or chemistry), but also a kind of “esprit de corps”, a feeling of group superiority over other mere mortals. At best, this gets sublimated into an admirable sense of “noblesse oblige”. At worst, one gets what Robert Nozick incisively described as (via Clive):

Intellectuals feel they are the most valuable people, the ones with the highest merit, and that society should reward people in accordance with their value and merit. But a capitalist society does not satisfy the principle of distribution “to each according to his merit or value.” Apart from the gifts, inheritances, and gambling winnings that occur in a free society, the market distributes to those who satisfy the perceived market-expressed demands of others, and how much it so distributes depends on how much is demanded and how great the alternative supply is. Unsuccessful businessmen and workers do not have the same animus against the capitalist system as do the wordsmith intellectuals. Only the sense of unrecognized superiority, of entitlement betrayed, produces that animus.

It is my hypothesis that, more generally, the vast majority of academia subconsciously identifies as members of the New Class (by whatever name they may call “our kind of people”) before everything else, and will naturally tend to favor policies that reflect New Class sensitivities and interests. Big-government philosophies, and especially redistributive “social justice” programs run by bureaucratic elites, have a natural appeal to them.

And academics can rent-seek with the best of them. I have seen liberal academics be apologetic about receiving defense-related funding, but applying for and accepting it nevertheless. Or people who receive research funding for the liberal pet cause du jour while, out of earshot and with a couple in them, admitting to be skeptical about it. I have heard more than one academic tell me flat out that (s)he thinks Al Gore is a huckster, but if his AGW doom talk can scare people into weaning themselves off fossil fuels before they run out then it will have served a useful purpose. And of course, easy availability of funding for research in… is a useful benefit. (With all due respect, but “pia fraus” and “taqqiya” belong in religions, not science.)

Ideally, an academic should seek the truth wherever it can be found, without fear or favor. In the real world, academics are humans and no human foibles are alien to them. One of the most sobering things  I learned in my 4.5 decades on this mortal coil is that in some “real world” matters, farmers and small businessmen without any formal education can exercise more sound judgment than most professors.

ADDENDUM: I should have pointed out the degree to which already existing tendencies are exacerbated by the whole “postmodern” fad. To state that personal perspective may create observer bias, or that it may be worthwhile to look at historical or political events through different eyes, is one thing. To deny the very existence of objective truth (even as a platonic ideal) is another: if there is only the “struggle between competing narratives” (how people who believe in this radically subjectivist notion can take pride in being “reality-based” is a miracle of psychology), then the search for truth (by however imperfect means) degenerates into a sophistry contest. Which is how many conservatives increasingly look upon humanities and “soft subjects” academia (actually, various unprintable versions of “mutual gratification society” are more commonly heard) — and which, in turn, increases the mutual aversion. There is a definite “feedback loop” going on here…

The revolt of the masses and our ruling class

Jerry Pournelle quotes “The revolt of the masses” by Jose Ortega y Gasset:

Doubtless the most radical division of humanity that can be made is that between two classes of creatures: those who demand much of themselves and assume a burden of tasks and difficulties, and those who require nothing special of themselves, but rather for whom to live is to be in every instant only what they already are.

* * *

The mass-man would never have accepted authority external to himself had not his surroundings violently forced him to do so. As to-day, his surroundings do not so force him, the everlasting mass-man, true to his character, ceases to appeal to other authority and feels himself lord of his own existence. On the contrary the select man, the excellent man is urged, by interior necessity, to appeal from himself to some standard beyond himself, superior to himself, whose service he freely accepts.… Contrary to what is usually thought, it is the man of excellence, and not the common man who lives in essential servitude. Life has no savour for him unless he makes it consist in service to something transcendental. Hence he does not look upon the necessity of serving as an oppression. When, by chance, such necessity is lacking, he grows restless and invents some new standard, more difficult, more exigent, with which to coerce himself. This is life lived as a discipline — the noble life.

A superficial, out-of-context reading would make Ortega y Gasset seem like an elitist. However, Wikipedia (of all places) clarifies:

Ortega is throughout quite critical of both the masses and the mass-men of which they are made up, contrasting “noble life and common life” and excoriating the barbarism and primitivism he sees in the mass-man. He does not, however, refer to specific social classes, as has been so commonly misunderstood in the English-speaking world. Ortega states that the mass-man could be from any social background, but his specific target is the bourgeois educated man, the señorito satisfecho (satisfied young man or Mr. Satisfied), the specialist who believes he has it all and extends the command he has of his subject to others, contemptuous of his ignorance in all of them. His summary of what he attempted in the book exemplifies this quite well, while simultaneously providing the author’s own views on his work: “In this essay an attempt has been made to sketch a certain type of European, mainly by analyzing his behaviour as regards the very civilization into which he was born”. This had to be done because that individual “does not represent a new civilisation struggling with a previous one, but a mere negation …”

The members of the over-credentialed, under-educated US “elite” and commentariat fit the image of the señorito satisfecho to a tee.

Hawaii, tipping, and cultural misunderstandings

Fox News had a segment on about how restaurants in Hawaii are now proposing to add a 15% surcharge to the bill for Japanese tourist.
You say: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?” The rationale is: since Japanese tourists don’t tip (tipping is not customary in Japanese restaurants), the customary 15% tip should be added to the bill so the waiters are not cheated out of their money.
While Japanese are of course the most numerous/visible such group, let’s remove the racial component by pointing out the numerous times I’ve had to remind Belgian and Dutch visitors to the USA about tipping. Now the alleged “excessive parsimony” of the Dutch is a common theme of Belgian jokes about them (the Dutch have similar jokes about the Scottish — neither Belgium nor the Netherlands are big on “political correctness”), but neither the Belgians nor the Japanese have a reputation for stinginess. It’s simply a cultural misunderstanding: waiters in Belgium, the Netherlands (and presumably Japan) are salaried employees and restaurant bills in Belgium, for example, typically state “VAT and service included”. If you were to add a 15% “service charge” to a restaurant bill the Belgian would pay it without a second thought. When I explained to Belgian visitors to the USA or Israel that their tips are the income of the waiters, they understood immediately.
It remains to be seen how mainland American tourists would react if Hawaiian restaurants were to add on a blanket 15% “service charge” to all bills. Yet this would, to a naive outside observer, seem to be the obvious solution…

Ann Althouse: When did the left turn against free speech?

Ann Althouse:

One of the commenters declares that my “assertion that ‘the best test of the truth is its ability to get accepted in the marketplace of ideas’ was probably the most offensive part of her argument.” When questioned about whether I really said that, he comes back with:

She cited a Justice whose name I haven’t retained, as in: “As Justice X says, …” followed by the verbatim passage I quoted.

She cited a Justice whose name I haven’t retained…. Oh, for the love of God, why doesn’t every educated person in America know the name of the Supreme Court Justice who said that… or at the very least know that it’s embarrassing not to know? As if I’d thrown out some abstruse legalistic peculiarity!

And that was part of an argument by the commenter — echoing Bob Wright — that free speech is too dangerous because it might be false and it might inspire bad people to act out in terrible ways.

Remember when lefties were all about free speech? When did that change? Why did that change? Perhaps the answer is: Free speech was only ever a means to an end. When they got their free speech, made their arguments, and failed to win over the American people, and when in fact the speech from their opponents seemed too successful, they switched to the repression of speech, because the end was never freedom.

Indeed. “The only question is about who is to be master, that is all.”

Why they’d rather talk about Sarah Palin

Insty has a new running gag/meme: “Why they’d rather talk about Sarah Palin (cont’d)

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Investors Have Been Fleeing Municipal Bonds. “A few factors can be blamed for this sudden retreat, but the one making all the headlines is the fear that cash-strapped states and municipalities issuing the bonds will renege on promises to investors.”

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:03 am Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): America: Paydown Problems.

As it stands today, the US borrows about 40 cents of every dollar it spends. Curbing the budget deficit has been the stated mission of Mr Ryan, a rising Republican star, for several years. But such calls for action have multiplied in Washington in recent months, igniting what some say is the fiercest debate over fiscal and budgetary policy in decades.

The risks are big. If the government rushes into austerity, cutting too much and too quickly, it could stunt economic recovery. But if the political system cannot forge some kind of consensus on steps to restore US deficits to sustainable levels, the danger is potentially even greater: a sovereign debt crisis in the world’s largest economy.

Fortunately, the country’s in the very best of hands.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:42 am Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Unemployment In The U.S. Is Actually Worse Than Pakistan. “The Eurozone is at similar levels to the US, but when most of the countries that have a higher unemployment rate than the US are collectively referred to as PIGS, it’s not very encouraging.”

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 16, 2011 at 11:28 pm Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): “We’re fine at the moment, and we’re screwed long term.” Well, ordinarily I’d be worried. But with the best and the brightest at the helm, I foresee nothing but smooth sailing.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 16, 2011 at 10:54 pm Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Soaring Global Food Prices.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 16, 2011 at 10:37 pm Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Holiday Spending Record Not As Good As It Looks.

This past season’s revenue marked a 5.7 percent increase over holiday 2009. That’s the strongest gain since 2004. While encouraging, that doesn’t mean shoppers have recovered from the loss of $11 trillion in household wealth. From consumers’ perspective, the economy hasn’t improved dramatically from last year, as credit remains tight, unemployment hasn’t budged below 9 percent, and home values are still depressed. Consumer confidence is hovering at the same level as a year ago and well below the point that signals a stable economy. . . .

In several categories, spending on gifts fell short of shoppers’ 2007 outlay. In 2010, consumers spent $50.7 billion on clothing and accessories like shoes and scarves; in 2007, that figure was $51.3 billion even before adjusting for inflation. Holiday revenue at department stores was $45.3 billion last year, much less than the $50.4 billion that traded hands in 2007.

Read the whole thing. It’s better than last year, but it’s not exactly “Happy days are here again.”

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 16, 2011 at 8:00 am Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): U.S. Satisfaction Remains Near 12-Month Low. “Gallup finds 19% of Americans satisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time — essentially on par with the lowest level of the past 12 months, 17%, registered in December. . . . The current low level of satisfaction is likely tied primarily to the economy.”

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 15, 2011 at 11:25 pm Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Munis Crashing For Third Straight Day, And This Is The Worst Yet.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:49 pm Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): The Worst Combo: Consumer Spending Is Mediocre, Gas Prices Rising, And Retailers Have No Pricing Power. “Things are starting to look a little stagflationary.”

UPDATE: Consumer Confidence Slips Surprisingly on Jobs, Fuel Costs.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm Link

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:43 am Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): AP: Over 1 million Americans seen losing homes in 2011. “The bleakest year in the foreclosure crisis has only just begun. . . . Lenders are poised to take back more homes this year than any other since the U.S. housing meltdown began in 2006. About 5 million borrowers are at least two months behind on their mortgages and industry experts say more people will miss payments because of job losses and also loans that exceed the value of the homes they are living in.”

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:10 am Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): $5 a gallon gas? Washington insiders are wondering if the next real economic crisis facing President Obama is when gasoline prices spike to $4 or $5 per gallon. At today’s press briefing, a White House press spokesman rebuffed queries about the possibility saying ‘there are many people that would get upset at me if I started to opine on oil and gas prices, so I won’t.’”

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 13, 2011 at 11:15 pm Link
Comments Off.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Jobless claims jump, wholesale food costs surge. More thoughts here.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm Link
Comments Off.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): U.S. On The Way To Losing AAA Credit Rating.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 13, 2011 at 8:47 am Link
Comments Off.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): How a housing slump will slow the jobs train.

It seems impolite to ask, what with employment growth sucking wind already. Companies added just around 100,000 jobs a month over the past year, a rate Fed chief Ben Bernanke dismissed Friday as “insufficient to materially reduce the unemployment rate.”

Not a pretty picture.

But it gets worse. Economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch say one key to a jobs recovery is an improvement in housing — because so much job creation is driven by new businesses that have in recent years been financed in part by home equity borrowing.

This sort of job creation has been missing the last couple years, thanks to the housing crash. If U.S. house prices embark as expected on a new decline, the long-awaited hiring renaissance could be put on hold yet again.

“There has been an adverse feedback loop where low home prices lead to tight credit, hurting jobs and prolonging the housing recession,” writes economist Michelle Meyer.

Much of the concern about another housing downturn revolves around the banks. A sharp house-price decline could lead to more foreclosures, hammering profits and reducing lending, such as it is.

But Meyer points to another effect that could be equally powerful for the jobs market. She notes that falling house prices hit home equity, preventing small business owners from tapping a key source of financing.

It’s a reverse “wealth effect.” Hope and change!

UPDATE: Reader John Murrey emails:

I’ve been a real estate agent with my own business and now work for a Top 10 national bank. The other problem that’s going to occur is a drop in labor mobility that will limit job growth and full employment as workers are trapped in homes they can’t afford, can’t sell in areas where job growth is non existent or negative. This will go a long way towards making lending even tighter as people walk away from those homes or are locked in with few affordable resources to finance a business.

Yes, it’s a vicious spiral.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 13, 2011 at 7:00 am Link
Comments Off.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Man the Lifeboats! Oil Prices Could Scuttle Recovery. I’m paying $3.25 for gas now. I notice that the big rise in gas prices hasn’t gotten much press attention, though.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm Link
Comments Off.

CHANGE: HOUSING MARKET SLIPS INTO DEPRESSION TERRITORY. No wonder they’d rather talk about Sarah Palin.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 12, 2011 at 8:43 am Link

Psychological defense mechanism or red herring? Methinks, a bit of both.

FAIL to the Chief: 0bama dumps his job on Clinton

While I was traveling, the White House saw possibly the most surrealistic event in the history of the US Presidency (or at least since we have media documentation).

Ed Driscoll (whose title I couldn’t resist swiping) sums it up :

Mr. I’ll Stop the Rise of the Seas handed the presidency to one of his predecessors on Friday.  During a press conference in the White House briefing room, the President of the United States handed the bully pulpit over to Bill Clinton.  Obama and Clinton had just held a closed door meeting regarding the Bush tax cut deal and presumably discussed what Obama must do now that he faces a Republican majority in the House. The pair of presidents decided to hold an impromptu press conference.  A few minutes in, Obama walks out, leaving Clinton to hold court with the White House press corps.

Clinton hasn’t been POTUS now for about 10 years, but he showed that he’s still the wonk he always was, citing facts and figures and selling the Obama deal better than Obama has bothered to try.  But Clinton’s performance isn’t the most important part of the story.  The important parts are what Friday’s moment says and what it symbolizes.  As a former President of the United States, Clinton is entitled to be addressed as “Mr. President,” and that’s of course how the press addressed him, which only added to Friday’s confusion: With Obama off to meet his wife and attend a Christmas party, Clinton got to play President for a Day.

Adds Ed Driscoll:

[…W]hat does this moment from Friday communicate to the world?

I doubt that the symbolism of Friday’s presser was intentional. I don’t think that Obama believed that his walking out would be seen as the abdication of leadership that it was. Like the Greek columns and the Berlin speech, Obama probably intended to the imagery to say one thing, but it accidentally said something else entirely. Friday’s press conference struck me as another sign of disrespect for the office he holds, and another of Barack Obama’s misuses of the power with which he has been entrusted. He intended to show unity with the former and still popular President, but actually told the world that he’s no longer up to his job and won’t even bother trying to pretend he is. Roger wrote over the weekend that it showed that America doesn’t have a leader now. That’s right, and it’s very dangerous.

The image that Obama broadcast on Friday was one of serious, and perhaps incurable, weakness. The moment looked like what happens in a corporate setting, when an experienced hand steps in to temporarily take over for a inexperienced executive who has botched a big job and needs time to get his mind right. What happens next in the corporate world is that the junior exec gets some training, or gets sidelined, or gets fired. But we’re not talking about a junior exec. There’s no training available, no sideline to run to, and his contract lasts a couple more years.

Obama has taken the presidency to a moment of such weakness that we have to reach back to Watergate for a comparison, but Obama’s moment wasn’t brought on by scandal. It’s the result of his personality and his lack of preparation for the job, “first class temperament” notwithstanding. And it’s also the result of how he views the job, as a symbol of authority rather than the fact and exercise of authority.

Kim Jong-Il and his successor son are watching, as are Vlad Putin, the Chinese Communists, al Qaeda, the mullahcracy in Iran and every other potential threat or challenger on the planet. If Obama can’t handle his own party or a simple press conference, can he handle Somali pirates, Hugo Chavez or that shopworn 3 am crisis?

On Friday, when he exited the stage and left Bill Clinton temporarily in charge, Barack Obama told the world that he can no longer handle any of that.

No-one at the bridge

UPDATE: Victor Davis Hanson: Our “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” moment

Change: Narcissism no longer a psychiatric disorder

Via Insty , we learn news that must be a great relief to the current occupant of 1600 Penn and his dwindling band of sycophants:

CHANGE: Narcissism no longer a psychiatric disorder. Well, that’s a relief:

[More here. In fairness, the basic idea apparently is narcissism being reclassified as a symptom of a deeper personality disorder rather than a disorder in itself. The change, being pushed by researchers, is vociferously opposed by practicing clinical psychiatrists — apparently not the first example of a rift between researchers and clinicians in the community.]

C2 commenter “buzzsawmonkey” had some pithy comments in yesterday afternoon’s C2 thread:

“Any discipline in which something can be declared a “disorder” or not by vote is the province of charlatans.”

Reply to Lucius Septimius in #220:

I was working for the ACLU in the ’70s, on gay-rights issues (if you can believe it), when the American Psychiatric Association decided by vote that homosexual behavior was “no longer a disorder.”  While this was certainly useful to me in my professional capacity, even then I realized that any outfit that could decree what was or was not a “disorder” by vote of its membership was of necessity a fraud from top to bottom.”

But… “the science is settled”, dontcha know!

Third Culture Kids

On the plane between “home base” and “forward base”, I spent some time reading the book “Third culture kids” (TCK), which was recommended to us by a friend.

This being a revised edition of the book, there are a fair number of references to 0bama as the first “third culture president” that grow tiresome after a while. The writing is also not as penetrating or engaging (two different things) as I would have liked, but still the concept helped me make sense of some things in my own family (and others like us).

Even today, in the Internet and Web 2.0 age, most children spend their formative years in one culture and one culture only: their “home culture” or “passport culture” as the authors alternatingly refer to it. They may be more exposed to superficial elements of other cultures than ever (thanks to modern means of communication), but their “deep culture” is firmly rooted in one place.

Some children grow up “cross-culturally”. For example, they may be born and partly raised in one country, and then their parents may immigrate to another for economic reasons or as refugees from war or persecution. Or their parents may be from different backgrounds and they end up living in the culture of one parent. Such children deal with both a “passport culture” and a “host culture”, and different ways of (not) coping with the duality may ensue: some children may fully identify with the host culture, others fully and ostentatiously with the passport culture, yet others may try to harmoniously blend aspects of both.

(A more complex variation on this theme occurs when both parents hail from different “passport cultures” while the family lives in a third “host culture”: say, a Chinese/African mixed couple living as immigrants in the USA.)

The term “third culture kids” was originally coined by sociologist Ruth Hill Useem to refer to a different phenomenon, that unifies children of career military (“army brats”/”navy brats”/”air force brats”), diplomatic personnel, executives in international corporations, international aid workers, transnational NGO personnel, and religious missionaries. Adults in these groups may be, at first sight, radically different from each other in their outlooks on life — for instance, UN types and career military are typically on opposite poles of the liberal-conservative axis — yet they share commonalities in their circumstances that put a shared imprint on their children for life.

The TCK is typically born in one “home culture” but spends much or all of their formative years in one or more “host cultures” where their parents are on assignment. The “third culture” they deal with is the interstitial one created by their parents and others in the same situation, be it military base life, expat enclaves, or the corporate/bureaucratic/diplomatic “expat ghetto”.

What makes TCKs unique? As summarized here on the State Department website:

Because TCKs have developed a unique culture of their own that incorporates elements of varied cultures, they often feel more at home with other TCKs, with no regard for nationality, rather than those of the passport culture (Storti, 1997). Roa (1995) explains that many TCKs experience cultural marginality in which they do not fit perfectly into any specific culture where they have lived, but on the other hand, fit comfortably on the edge or margin of any one of them. In essence, they feel at home anywhere and nowhere at the same time. TCKs who feel at home anywhere may exhibit constructive marginality in which they feel different from others, but are able to use their differences constructively (Schaetti, 1996). Those who experience encapsulated marginality have a feeling of being trapped or encapsulated by their sense of being different. Therefore, they may feel at home nowhere and might have a sense of falling off the edge of the cultural mainstream (Schaetti, 1996).

[…]

TCKs who have experienced re-entry [to the USA] state that entering another international posting is easier that re-entering one’s passport country (Schaetti, 1998). They may feel out of place and alienated […]  they tend to cope rather than adjust, becoming “a part of” and “apart from” any situation (Smith, 1991). The TCKs who exhibit encapsulated marginality and fel[t] isolated may have difficulty in maintaining commitments and may avoid solving problems up-front (as they have learned that problems tend to move away).

I have seen this in my own household. One of us (while polyglot) was substantially raised in a single country and “passport culture”, while the other (a military brat) was raised all over the USA (and the rest of the planet) and became a classic TCK in that sense. We lived together for a long time in a country we both have religious ties to (Israel), but while the non-TCK quickly grew roots in the country, the TCK never truly did.

What about people who never left the USA but moved all over it? Sure, they do not (typically) deal with more than one language (except perhaps Spanish, or sometimes French in Louisiana), and large retail and restaurant chains create an “Anytown, USA” experience, but still, once one peers beyond these things, the major geographic regions in the USA (the Northeast, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, West Coast, Deep South, Southwest,…., and the Republic of Texas) offer a variety in local attitudes to life not unlike, say, that between different countries in Europe. One gets a “TCK experience writ small”.

(to be continued, hopefully)

Jonathan Last: 0bama, American Narcissus

Jonathan Last’s cover story for the Weekly Standard lays out Barack Hussein 0bama’s obsession with his favorite subject: himself.

See also this postscript. (And Bill Kristol: “What about compliments?”) The Naked Emperor doesn’t just have the huge ego that seems to be an occupational disease of politicians (regardless of party): there is something pathological going on. Pity the nation ruled by narcissists.

UPDATE: via Correspondence Committee, the following gag-inducing comment from one of the narcissist’s chief enablers:

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, quotes White House senior adviser and longtime Obama friend Valerie Jarrett: “I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. … He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability — the extraordinary, uncanny ability — to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. … So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. … He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”

Yeah, and I am the Queen of England.

Just because video: Ronnie James Dio, “Dream on”

Most people who hear the name Aerosmith think of classic hard rock tracks like “Walk this way”, but for me, hands down the best song Steven Tyler ever wrote was the atypically sensitive ballad “Dream on”, which became the band’s first single and (minor) hit.

The late lamented Ronnie James Dio, supported by Yngwie Malmsteen on guitar, laid down a cover version that, if anything, outdoes the original. Below is a video. The lyrics can be viewed here.

Enjoy!

Pampered populists

Victor Davis Hanson (via Insty): “It’s surreal to see President Obama play the class-warfare card against the Republicans while on his way to vacation on the tony Maine coast, and even more interesting to note that now gone are the days when the media used to caricature Bush I (“Poppy”) for boating in the summer off the preppie-sounding Kennebunkport. The truth is that the real big money and the lifestyles that go with it are now firmly liberal Democratic. . . . The more the polo-shirted Obama seems obsessed with golf, and the more he seems to prefer the landscape of the elite (who navigate the Ivy League, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Upper East Side, Cambridge, etc.), the more we wonder whom exactly he’s railing about.”

On a related note, also at Insty, a long list of reader responses to the dynamite  essay about “America’s Ruling Class” I summarized here.

America’s ruling class vs. its country class

This essay (via Insty) is a must-read indeed. The moneygrafs:

Never has there been so little diversity within America’s upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time America’s upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and “bureaucrat” was a dirty word for all. So was “social engineering.” Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday’s upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed. All that has changed.Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. . . . Today, few speak well of the ruling class. Not only has it burgeoned in size and pretense, but it also has undertaken wars it has not won, presided over a declining economy and mushrooming debt, made life more expensive, raised taxes, and talked down to the American people. Americans’ conviction that the ruling class is as hostile as it is incompetent has solidified. The polls tell us that only about a fifth of Americans trust the government to do the right thing. The rest expect that it will do more harm than good and are no longer afraid to say so. . . . Our ruling class’s agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof. . . . In this clash, the ruling class holds most of the cards: because it has established itself as the fount of authority, its primacy is based on habits of deference. Breaking them, establishing other founts of authority, other ways of doing things, would involve far more than electoral politics.

Now just who are this “ruling class”? Basically, the same people Thomas Sowell refers to as “the Anointed” and various people (such as Insty and your obedient servant) refer to as “The New Class”. This portrait, however, cuts to the bone:

Who are these rulers, and by what right do they rule? How did America change from a place where people could expect to live without bowing to privileged classes to one in which, at best, they might have the chance to climb into them? What sets our ruling class apart from the rest of us?

The most widespread answers — by such as the Times‘s Thomas Friedman and David Brooks — are schlock sociology. Supposedly, modern society became so complex and productive, the technical skills to run it so rare, that it called forth a new class of highly educated officials and cooperators in an ever less private sector. [NCT notes: in this meaning, the term was originally coined by John Kenneth Galbraith; in the context of critiques of Marxism, it was coined by Milovan Djilas to refer to what in Soviet Russia was known as the “nomenklatura”, and in George Orwell’s “1984” as the Inner Party.] Similarly fanciful is Edward Goldberg’s notion that America is now ruled by a “newocracy”: a “new aristocracy who are the true beneficiaries of globalization — including the multinational manager, the technologist and the aspirational members of the meritocracy.” In fact, our ruling class grew and set itself apart from the rest of us by its connection with ever bigger government, and above all by a certain attitude.

Other explanations are counterintuitive. Wealth? The heads of the class do live in our big cities’ priciest enclaves and suburbs, from Montgomery County, Maryland, to Palo Alto, California, to Boston’s Beacon Hill as well as in opulent university towns from Princeton to Boulder. But they are no wealthier than many Texas oilmen or California farmers, or than neighbors with whom they do not associate — just as the social science and humanities class that rules universities seldom associates with physicians and physicists. Rather, regardless of where they live, their social-intellectual circle includes people in the lucrative “nonprofit” and “philanthropic” sectors and public policy. What really distinguishes these privileged people demographically is that, whether in government power directly or as officers in companies, their careers and fortunes depend on government. They vote Democrat more consistently than those who live on any of America’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Streets. These socioeconomic opposites draw their money and orientation from the same sources as the millions of teachers, consultants, and government employees in the middle ranks who aspire to be the former and identify morally with what they suppose to be the latter’s grievances.

Professional prominence or position will not secure a place in the class any more than mere money. In fact, it is possible to be an official of a major corporation or a member of the U.S. Supreme Court (just ask Justice Clarence Thomas), or even president (Ronald Reagan), and not be taken seriously by the ruling class. Like a fraternity, this class requires above all comity — being in with the right people, giving the required signs that one is on the right side, and joining in despising the Outs. Once an official or professional shows that he shares the manners, the tastes, the interests of the class, gives lip service to its ideals and shibboleths, and is willing to accommodate the interests of its senior members, he can move profitably among our establishment’s parts.

If, for example, you are Laurence Tribe in 1984, Harvard professor of law, leftist pillar of the establishment, you can “write” your magnum opus by using the products of your student assistant, Ron Klain. A decade later, after Klain admits to having written some parts of the book, and the other parts are found to be verbatim or paraphrases of a book published in 1974, you can claim (perhaps correctly) that your plagiarism was “inadvertent,” and you can count on the Law School’s dean, Elena Kagan, to appoint a committee including former and future Harvard president Derek Bok that issues a secret report that “closes” the incident. Incidentally, Kagan ends up a justice of the Supreme Court. Not one of these people did their jobs: the professor did not write the book himself, the assistant plagiarized instead of researching, the dean and the committee did not hold the professor accountable, and all ended up rewarded. By contrast, for example, learned papers and distinguished careers in climatology at MIT (Richard Lindzen) or UVA (S. Fred Singer) are not enough for their questions about “global warming” to be taken seriously. For our ruling class, identity always trumps.

Much less does membership in the ruling class depend on high academic achievement. To see something closer to an academic meritocracy consider France, where elected officials have little power, a vast bureaucracy explicitly controls details from how babies are raised to how to make cheese, and people get into and advance in that bureaucracy strictly by competitive exams. Hence for good or ill, France’s ruling class are bright people — certifiably. Not ours. But didn’t ours go to Harvard and Princeton and Stanford? Didn’t most of them get good grades? Yes. But while getting into the Ecole Nationale d’Administration or the Ecole Polytechnique or the dozens of other entry points to France’s ruling class requires outperforming others in blindly graded exams, and graduating from such places requires passing exams that many fail, getting into America’s “top schools” is less a matter of passing exams than of showing up with acceptable grades and an attractive social profile. American secondary schools are generous with their As. Since the 1970s, it has been virtually impossible to flunk out of American colleges. And it is an open secret that “the best” colleges require the least work and give out the highest grade point averages. No, our ruling class recruits and renews itself not through meritocracy but rather by taking into itself people whose most prominent feature is their commitment to fit in. The most successful neither write books and papers that stand up to criticism nor release their academic records. Thus does our ruling class stunt itself through negative selection. But the more it has dumbed itself down, the more it has defined itself by the presumption of intellectual superiority.

But why?

Our ruling class’s agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof. Like left-wing parties always and everywhere, it is a “machine,” that is, based on providing tangible rewards to its members. Such parties often provide rank-and-file activists with modest livelihoods and enhance mightily the upper levels’ wealth. Because this is so, whatever else such parties might accomplish, they must feed the machine by transferring money or jobs or privileges — civic as well as economic — to the party’s clients, directly or indirectly. This, incidentally, is close to Aristotle’s view of democracy. Hence our ruling class’s standard approach to any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems, is to increase the power of the government — meaning of those who run it, meaning themselves, to profit those who pay with political support for privileged jobs, contracts, etc. Hence more power for the ruling class has been our ruling class’s solution not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for hurricanes and tornadoes, global cooling and global warming. A priori, one might wonder whether enriching and empowering individuals of a certain kind can make Americans kinder and gentler, much less control the weather. But there can be no doubt that such power and money makes Americans ever more dependent on those who wield it. Let us now look at what this means in our time.

Go forth and read the rest. Going from the national to the transnational plane — and tying in with the previous post — see also this related classic article by John Fonte, “The coming ideological war within the West“.

Robin of Berkeley: Will the real racist please stand up?

“Robin of Berkeley” reflects on the aftermath of the Oakland riots,. Read the whole thing, but this passage is particularly salient:

A colleague said this to me the other day. “That police officer should be found guilty. But if he’s not, they have every a right to riot.”

She was simply expressing the typical liberal view. But let’s pick this apart.

If thousands of Jews or Chinese or white males looted stores and burned cars, would the public be so tolerant? I don’t think so. Are we really talking tolerance here, or something else entirely — a colonialist, superior attitude?

Put bluntly, when liberals say that “they” have a right to riot, what’s the implication here? Is it that blacks are primitive, out-of-control Neanderthals? Those Jews, Chinese, and white males are expected to have self-control. No such expectations exist for designated victim groups like blacks and Latinos.
By treating blacks as a special class, liberals marginalize and infantilize. Liberals also set the bar insultingly low.

Obama and his handlers knew that white liberal guilt could be exploited to their advantage. They realized that Obama would be insulated from scrutiny.

But it’s not just guilt; it’s also a white feeling of superiority. Because you have to see yourself as on top to offer special treatment to those on bottom.

Obama has been the Teflon President because of the color of his skin. Liberals are giving him a free ride.

We see it every day when criticism of Obama evokes cries of racism. But who are the real racists here?
Are the racists those conservatives who hold everyone accountable to the same standards? Who believe that people should be judged by their character and their behavior, not their race, creed, or color?

Or are the racists those white liberals who treat Obama like some delicate flower? While liberals still eviscerate George W. Bush, any judgment of Obama is off limits.

It’s not just whites who are enabling Obama by acting like his protectors. Blacks voted en masse for Obama. Sadly, what has he offered them?

From the start, it was obvious that Obama, though half-black, had never done anything for the black community. In Chicago, his actions hurt blacks.

Obama was a huge supporter of Tony Rezko, a notorious slumlord, now a felon. When Obama served in the state senate, black residents picketed Rezko’s offices to protest their rat-infested, unheated apartments.

And what has Obama done to help blacks since he’s been president? One of Obama’s first actions as president was eliminating the DC school voucher program that offered poor black kids the chance for a better life.

Obama and the Democrats have created record debt and crushed the economy. A depressed economy hits minority groups especially hard.

And then there is Obama’s push for amnesty for illegals. How is giving jobs to millions of illegals going to help blacks, who have unconscionably high unemployment rates?

But there is one perk Obama has afforded the black underclass — the right to behave brutally. Obama’s Justice Department dropped charges for those New Black Panthers who allegedly threatened and harassed people at election sites.

This encouragement to act out is deeply cynical and manipulative. It’s designed to control racial minorities and promote social unrest.

Although Obama has only agitated, not uplifted, Americans, most liberals regard him as their icon. To them, Obama is the Great Black Hope.

Liberals handle Obama with kid gloves. In the meantime, they turn a blind eye to his dangerous policies, like flirting with radical Islam. Liberals make excuses for the plummeting economy, blaming their usual bogeyman: conservatives.

They refuse to see Obama without the rose-colored glasses. Why? Because when it comes to Obama, liberals see a black man deserving of special treatment.

Will the real racist please stand up?

One black intellectual, Thomas Sowell, saw through this liberal conceit decades ago. He refers to the minorities on which these extremely dubious (for ultimately toxic) blessings are bestowed as “mascots of the anointed”.

0bama election: “A perfect storm of shallow stupidity”

This comment, on an article about foreign central banks going for gold, just encapsulates… it all (via Insty):

John|6.25.10 @ 10:39AM|#

The election of Obama was really the penultimate expression of our social and political neurosis. Think about it. He was black so he allowed people to feel good about themselves voting for a black man. Racial neurosis check. He was young, so it allowed people to think they were going to relive JFK. Boomer nostalgia neurosis, check. And he was from the upper middle class uber educated doucheoisie. Status and class neurosis check.

It was really all there. A perfect storm of shallow stupidity.

Friday Night songfood for thought: Rush, “The Weapon”

This is Rush live, from the Grace Under Pressure tour. Forget the goofy intro: the song begins at about 1:20. (Never figured out how to make a YouTube embed in WordPress start at a specific time stamp.)

As nearly always, the music is by Lifeson and Lee, and drummer Neil Peart wrote the lyrics. It’s not my favorite Rush song musically, but the lyrics have gone through my head countless times.

We’ve got nothing to fear but fear itself
— Not pain or failure, not fatal tragedy
— Not the faulty units in this mad machinery
— Not the broken contacts in emotional chemistry

With an iron fist in a velvet glove
We are sheltered under the gun
In the glory game on the power train
Thy kingdom’s will be done

And the things that we fear
Are a weapon to be held against us…

He’s not afraid of your judgement
He knows of horrors worse than your Hell
He’s a little bit afraid of dying —
But he’s a lot more afraid of your lying

And the things that he fears
Are a weapon to be held against him…

Can any part of life be larger than life?
Even love must be limited by time
And those who push us down that they might climb —
Is any killer worth more than his crime?

Like a steely blade in a silken sheath
We don’t see what they’re made of
They shout about love, but when push comes to shove
They live for the things they’re afraid of

And the knowledge that they fear
Is a weapon to be used against them…

Celibacy, the new celebrity trend?

The newly married (congratulations!) Cassy Fiano blogs on the new woman celebrity sex trend: celibacy. Somehow I don’t see this become a male celebrity trend, at least not for long.

In any case, the woman speaking out in the article looks like a classic swing (no pun intended) of the Hegelian pendulum of history: from random “hookups” with men she met on the subway to celibacy. In the process, she seems to have rediscovered the classic Freudian concept of “sublimation”.

Cassy has a lot of choice things to say about a certain type of feminism and its denial of women being wired differently from men in this regard.

Darwininan psychology goes mainstream

No time to blog it, but this is definitely an interesting read. (H/t: Pi Guy)

Was Robert A. Heinlein foreseeing this when he wrote this line? “Morals — all correct morals — derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level.”

Thomas Sowell: Race and resentment

Thomas Sowell has a “read the whole thing” article on race and resentment. The salient grafs:

Recent stories out of both Philadelphia and San Francisco tell of black students beating up Asian American students. This is especially painful for those who expected that the election of Barack Obama would mark the beginning of a post-racial America.[…]

Those who explain racial antagonisms on some rationalistic basis will have a hard time demonstrating how Asian Americans have made blacks worse off. Certainly none of the historic wrongs done to blacks was done by the small Asian American population who, for most of their history in this country, have not had enough clout to prevent themselves from being discriminated against.[…]

Resentments and hostility toward people with higher achievements are one of the most widespread of human failings. Resentments of achievements are more deadly than envy of wealth.

The hatred of people who started at the bottom and worked their way up has far exceeded any hostility toward those who were simply born into wealth. None of the sultans who inherited extraordinary fortunes in Malaysia has been hated like the Chinese, who arrived there destitute and rose by their own efforts.

Inheritors of the Rockefeller fortune have been elected as popular governors in three states, attracting nothing like the hostility toward the Jewish immigrants who rose from poverty on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to prosperity in a variety of fields.

Others who started at the bottom and rose to prosperity– the Lebanese in West Africa, the Indians in Fiji, the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, for example– have likewise been hated for their achievements. Being born a sultan or a Rockefeller is not an achievement.

Achievements are a reflection on others who may have had similar, and sometimes better, chances but who did not make the most of their chances. Achievements are like a slap across the face to those who are not achieving, and many people react with the same kind of anger that such an insult would provoke.

In our own times, especially, this is not just a spontaneous reaction. Many of our educators, our intelligentsia and our media — not to mention our politicians– promote an attitude that other people’s achievements are grievances, rather than examples.

When black school children who are working hard in school and succeeding academically are attacked and beaten up by black classmates for “acting white,” why is it surprising that similar hostility is turned against Asian Americans, who are often achieving academically more so than whites?

This attitude is not peculiar to some in the black community or to the United States. The same phenomenon is found among lower-class whites in Britain, where academically achieving white students have been beaten up badly enough by their white classmates to require hospital treatment.

These are poisonous and self-destructive consequences of a steady drumbeat of ideological hype about differences that are translated into “disparities” and “inequities,” provoking envy and resentments under their more prettied-up name of “social justice.”

Asian American school children who are beaten up are just some of the victims of these resentments that are whipped up. Young people who are seething with resentments, instead of seizing educational and other opportunities around them, are bigger victims in the long run, whether they are blacks in the US or lower-class whites in the UK. […]

People who call differences “inequities” and achievements “privilege” leave social havoc in their wake, while feeling noble about siding with the less fortunate. It would never occur to them that they have any responsibility for the harm done to both blacks and Asian Americans.

I have for a long time wondered why the Tenth Commandment is “thou shalt not covet” (לא תחמוד), as “coveting” something is not an act but an intent. However, it is covetousness that will lead to violating all of the others.

The “what is Barack Obama” debate?

Michael Ledeen discusses the debate that broke out between David Goldman (a.k.a. “Spengler”) and John Podhoretz on exactly what is Barack 0bama. Ledeen himself takes a middle position, but feels Podhoretz should have done better fact-checking. We link, you decide — it’s a good read.