College-Admissions Fraud; Color Me Unsurprised.

So the completely unsurprising scandal of celebrities buying their stupid offspring into elite so-called universities for credentialing purposes continues. In truth, nothing could be less surprising. Heather MacDonald in City Journal writes:

The celebrity college-admissions cheating scandal has two clear takeaways:  an elite college degree has taken on wildly inflated importance in American society, and the sports-industrial complex enjoys wildly inflated power within universities. Thirty-three moguls and TV stars allegedly paid admissions fixer William Singer a total of $25 million from 2011 to 2018 to doctor their children’s high school resumes—sending students to private SAT and ACT testing sites through false disability claims, for example, where bought-off proctors would raise the students’ scores. Singer forged athletic records, complete with altered photos showing the student playing sports in which he or she had little experience or competence. Corrupt sports directors would then recommend the student for admission, all the while knowing that they had no intention of playing on the school’s team.

None of this could have happened if higher education had not itself become a corrupt institution, featuring low classroom demands, no core knowledge acquisition, low grading standards, fashionable (but society-destroying) left-wing activism, luxury-hotel amenities, endless partying, and huge expense. Students often learn virtually nothing during their college years, as University of California, Irvine, education school dean Richard Arum writes in Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. They may even lose that pittance of knowledge with which they entered college. Seniors at Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Berkeley scored lower in an undemanding test of American history than they did as freshmen, according to a 2007 study commissioned by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. College is only desultorily about knowledge acquisition, at least outside of the STEM fields (and even those fields are under assault from identity politics).

Yep, pretty much covers it, for me at least.

What the pay-to-play admissions scam does not demonstrate, however, is that “legacy” admissions are somehow more corrupt than race-based affirmative-action admission policies—which seems to be the primary lesson that left-wing commentators and politicians are taking from the scandal—or that meritocracy is a “myth” that has now been debunked. Racial preferences are a far more significant deviation from academic meritocracy than legacy preferences, which are not even implicated in the current scandal. An underreported but salient detail in the Singer scam is that he “falsified students’ ethnicities,” according to the New York Times, because “some families and students perceive their racial backgrounds can hurt or aid their chances of getting in to schools that consider race in their admissions decisions.” This is not a mere perception; it is the truth. […]

To be sure, legacy preferences and racial preferences should both be eliminated.

Colleges should adopt a transparent, purely merit-based admissions system based on quantified tests of academic preparedness. Such a system would guarantee that entering freshmen were all equally prepared to compete academically, and would have the additional benefit of putting most college admissions officers out of a job. These self-important bureaucrats view themselves as artistes, using their exquisite insights into character to curate a utopian community of “diverse” individuals. The Harvard racial-preferences trial put such airs on nauseating display. In fact, admissions officers are simply allocating a scarce resource based on their own prejudices and inclinations.

Yes, anything else is smoke and mirrors, or in good flyover country English: Bullshit. If you are going to college, and fewer than half of our kids have anything to gain from it. I personally found two years in that I didn’t. Luckily Purdue was a land grant University so I wasn’t saddled with huge debts for my trouble, and I learned quite a lot, and like most alumni, love the place (as you know). But not finishing has not hurt my career, which has been pretty satisfying and paid the bills, as well.

The real losers here though, are the kids who thought they were getting an education but instead have found out their parents were buying them credentials, but without the skills that must go with those credentials to be useful in the real world.

Until the ‘elite’ schools once again teach how to think instead of indoctrinating leftists, I, as a business type person would simply shitcan any resume with a degree other than engineering, or other stem fields. And yes, Purdue would be favored, I’m a bit corrupt, as well, I prefer excellence over mediocrity.

Brexit Voted Still Again and Buying Indoctrination

via Victory Girls; Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy/Public Domain

So Teresa May’s (very slightly) modified Withdrawal Agreement failed still again in Parliament yesterday. That’s a very good thing since what it primarily did was sell British sovereignty and the legislative role to the EU. The law says Britain leaves on WTO terms at the end of the month, but the cowardly Parliament and government are openly working to thwart the law. What happens now? I have no clue, if you do, tell me. What should happen is a general election and the replacement of every dishonorable member who has forgotten who he works for and what they told him to do. Most of the government and a fair slice of the (not so) Civil Service would be improved by spending some time at Her Majesty’s Tower of London. Sadly, that is the most unlikely outcome. The swamp in Westminster may be deeper and more viscous than the one in Washington.


In other news, now comes news that some 50 people are at some place in the process of being arrested for bribery. It seems they thought their kids needed some extra help to get into those elite schools that educate swamp creatures, so they paid someone to lie for them. Toni Williams at Victory Girls explains.

About 50 people have had arrest warrants issued, been arrested, are negotiating their arrest or are being pursued in connection with a college cheating scandal code named “Operation Varsity Blues”. Parents paying to get their mouth breathing, drooling spawn into schools the little idiots are not qualified to attend. If you missed the press conference today, it was absolutely jaw dropping. Not shocking or surprising just jaw dropping.

While the rest of us honorable schmucks were paying for college board prep tests (my son wouldn’t go) or at least begging our little cherubs to get a good night’s sleep prior to the test (nope to that one, too), these elitists, who are so much better than we are, schemed with a weasel named William Singer to phony up the test scores for the college boards, create phony elite athlete profiles and get their kids into college as athletes or just plain bribe college officials. And, then as if these elitists didn’t disdain us enough, they claimed the costs as charitable contributions on their tax returns. You cannot make this excrement up.

Actress Lori Loughlin (Aunt Becky on Full House) and her husband, Target fashion designer, Mossimo Gianulli are two of the parents caught in the web of lies. From Deadline Hollywood:

Loughlin and her spouse Mossimo Gianulli “agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC,” asserts the grand jury indictment.

Gianulli has been charged.

No real surprise, I think, except the prosecutions. And for that matter, anybody think these spawn went to school to learn anything useful, or just to get a meaningless piece of paper for the wall, and a four (or more) year party. So while the illegality should be punished, I don’t see many victims here, the parents had way more money than sense, the schools have long since giving up educating for indoctrinating, and the kids are there for the sex, and drugs, and rock and roll, or whatever it is now. Hard to get too excited.

Cabaret, Haffner, and Chicago

My friend Brandon Christensen over at Notes on Liberty each evening does a post with a few links, which are often interesting. The day before yesterday had one that struck me, so let’s take a look.

In an article entitled The Unromantic Truths of Weimar Germany, Marilyn Macron is essentially reviewing Blood Brothers by Ernst Haffer. The book was originally published in 1932 and banned a year later by the Nazis. Ms. Macron starts this way.

EVEN HALF A CENTURY ON, Cabaret heavily informs perceptions of Weimar Germany. The popular, Oscar-winning 1972 musical features garter-clad Liza Minnelli and elegant Joel Grey slinking their way through a decadent Berlin underworld of sex and style, and it all seems so glamorous. The reality for most Germans at the time was, of course, colder, duller, and much more miserable.

But no one wants anything to do with misery. It’s not the kind of thing viewers and readers pay money to experience. If you dress up misery with tuxedos and boas, though, and hide the accompanying desperation under makeup and sequins, you get decadence, and decadence sells. German writer Alfred Döblin filtered this aesthetic into his classic 1929 novel Berlin Alexanderplatz. Christopher Isherwood was similarly taken in — his 1937 novella Sally Bowles, later collected in The Berlin Stories(1945), was the basis for Cabaret.

They wrote of Berliners who knew how to commodify decadence. Of aristocratic gangsters who wouldn’t do a job without top hat and tails. Of Apache dancers, Brylcreemed villains, and two-mark whores with fire-red curls. There were discreet champagne lounges in basements, secret entrances, and trapdoors. The observer of this falsified and superficial milieu would find Berlin’s actual criminal underworld deathly dull. Nothing of interest there at all. Except, perhaps, real people with real needs, and few ways to get those needs met.

She’s right though, that undertone that runs through Cabaret does give you a feel for what is coming. A newer version, set in the US, with much the same feel of desperation about it is Chicago, another fine effort, this time about what might have been instead of what was.

Haffner’s writing is of the short-lived Neue Sachlichkeit, or New Objectivity, movement that rejected romanticism and expressionism in favor of realism. His collage of the exploits and exploitation of these boys shows them fully responsible for their actions but also indicts German society as a whole. In this, his prose pairs well with the vitriolic caricatures of Dada/New Objectivist artist George Grosz, a contemporary of Haffner’s who left for the United States in 1933.

Grosz’s works were mainly done in pen and ink to emphasize the starkness of his subject matter. Of his claustrophobic collage A Funeral: Tribute to Oskar Panizza, he sought to portray, he said, “[A] gin alley of grotesque dead bodies and madmen […] A teeming throng of possessed human animals […] think that wherever you step, there’s the smell of shit.” A Funeral is an artistic analogue of Blood Brothers, in which Haffner writes, “And the big beer joints with their lively oom-pa-pah music from early morning on, they are just waiting rooms for armies of pimps, unemployed and casual criminals.”

All very interesting, and I wonder if it has implications for our time. For aren’t we seeing the same things, decadence, missing fathers, self-harming or more or less defeated mothers leading to feral young people, surviving however they can? How different is Haffner’s Berlin to present-day London, or Chicago? I don’t know and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know. But what I really don’t want is to find out they are the same. Neither the United States nor Weimar Germany survived the thirties as they were before. Neither did the world.

The book is now on my wish list. And do read the linked review.

As for Haffner himself, Macron tells us…

Beyond being a creative risk, Haffner’s humane depiction of the gang members turned out to be a grave political error: the Nazis banned and burned Blood Brothers within a year of its publication, during the notorious May 1933 Bebelplatz book burning. Sometime after, the writers’ union affiliated with the Third Reich, the Reichsschrifttumskammer, summoned him to appear. It is believed that he did.

Haffner was never seen again.

There is a lesson in that, as well.

CPAC: Trump

I’m going to delay the Sunday Funnies, this week. Because I want you to watch America’s best comedian, America’s best cheerleader, and best of all America’s president, at CPAC, for a bit over 2 hours.

 

One of my British friends commented:

The CPAC speech today, by Donald Trump, is a must watch, much of it off script. Everything you would want from a speech. I cannot imagine any of the lamebrains in this country ever being able to do anything like this.

Well, he’s correct, but I can’t imagine many people anywhere who could do this. We got very lucky when Donald Trump decided to run.

And yes, there is an executive order coming that will deny federal funding and research to universities that do not protect free speech. Good.

And more and more, decent honest people all around the world, are seeing through the globalist and media (redundancy alert) deceit, and recognizing what we saw in 2016, a good basically decent man who loves America, and knows that generally what is good for Americans is good for the common people everywhere.

CPAC, and Breitbart

I started blogging in 2011, never intending to do as much politics as I do, but it grabbed me and has never really let go. One of the things that braced me to it, was CPAC, which I had never heard of. What an enlightenment it was, to find there were others who thought as I did (and do).

Then there was Andre Breitbart, the happiest warrior for truth, justice, and the American way anyone could imagine. Combine the two, and you have this, via Nice Deb, Andre Breitbart at CPAC 2012, including the introduction by Sonnie Johnson.

What a feeling that was, I all but sat here and cheered, and then the unthinkable, he was gone, the first of many things we lost that year, including a lot of our political naivete. Not too mention the Presidency. But what Andrew talked about that year at CPAC is still true, they still want to destroy us, and they will if we let them. Here’s what I wrote, seven years ago, yesterday. How long it seems.

I imagine that most of us know already that Andrew Breitbart, of the “Big” sites, died last night. Age 43 is too young but, that is out of our hands.

Let’s talk a bit about things here. I and most of you who are about my age tend to put important thoughts into the written word. It’s the way we (and hundreds of generations before us) were trained. To thrill at the powerful, poetic, or moving word image. For instance, who amongst us doesn’t instantly recall the scene of  “Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor“. Words, and sentence construction matter.

But you know, the generation behind mine, started changing that, due to a convergence of technology, it became possible for normal, everyday people to use the spoken word, film, all aspects of multimedia to move humanity, in ways that those of us that are limited to the spoken word, never could. Most of us have come at least part of the way, many of you farther than I have, but all of us a considerable way. It’s good, I think. I also think it reckons back to our prehistory, before the written language when all knowledge was what you had seen, or been told.

Andrew Breitbart epitomized that change, he was a tireless champion of individual freedom to rank with Thomas Paine, if not higher. He is was almost exactly half a generation younger than me. He did a wonderful job of focusing attention on those things that impinged on individual freedom. A Champion of Freedom, indeed. Incidentally, the phrase comes from Sean Hannity in a phone interview with Martha McCallum this morning. That alone tells you how the world has changed, that I feel no need to further identify those two people because I’m confident that you all know who they are.

Breitbart, personally, always reminded me of Theodore Roosevelt, with his zest for life, his utter fearlessness, and his unsurpassed zest for life and battle, and his jutting jaw. He will be missed. But we will see him again when we rejoin the Armies of Freedom on the other side.

So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.

And so we lost a warrior and a leader, but we are still here because as he said if you can’t sell freedom, you really do suck. Get to selling.

CPAC 2019 goes on as we speak, I imagine we’ll have some videos from that one day soon.

 

A Stab in the Back: Brexit

Click to embiggen

Samizdata brings us “this twitter thread from Matthew Goodwin.”

One critical point about vote for #Brexit is that it marked the first moment when a majority of British people formally asked for something that a majority of their elected representatives did not want to give. It was always destined to lead us here

Contrary to popular claims, we now know from a dozen + studies that Leavers knew what they were voting for. They had a clear sense about how they wanted to change the settlement; they wanted powers returned from the EU & to slow the pace of immigration

We also know that for large chunks of the Leave electorate this vote -a rejection of the status quo- was anchored in high levels of political distrust, exasperation with an unfair economic settlement & a strong desire to be heard & respected

I do not think that it is hard to imagine what could happen if Brexit is delayed, taken off the shelf altogether or evolves into a second referendum that offers Remain vs May’s deal, which Leavers would view as an illegitimate ‘democratic’ exercise

We have evidence. (1) Professor Lauren McLaren has already shown that even before the first referendum people who wanted to reform the existing settlement but who felt politicians were unresponsive became significantly more distrustful of the entire political system

(2) Professor Oliver Heath (& others) have found that as British politics gradually converged on the middle-class at the expense of the working-class the latter gradually withdrew from politics, hunkering down and becoming more apathetic

This is partly why the first referendum was so important, where we saw surprisingly high rates of turnout in blue-collar seats. Because for the first time in years many of these voters felt that they could, finally, bring about change.

And we’d already seen an alliance between middle-class conservatives and blue-collar workers to try and bring about this change when they decamped from mainstream politics in 2012-2015 to vote for a populist outsider

So I think that we do know what the effects of a long/indefinite delay to Brexit, or taking it off the table altogether, will be. Either we will see a return to apathy & ever-rising levels of distrust which will erode our democracy and the social contract from below, or …

Another populist backlash, anchored in the same alliance of disillusioned Tories & angry workers who -as we’ve learned- are very unlikely to just walk quietly into the night. If anything, this will just exacerbate the deeper currents we discuss here

More on that thought later. But yes, this is very close to what I am hearing, almost entirely Brexiteer. Over at Law and Liberty, Samuel Gregg takes a close look at the politics involved and such.

That, however, is not how most of the British political class sees Brexit. As in the lead-up to the referendum, gloom-and-doom is being voiced from across the political spectrum at Westminster. This owes something to the fact that Prime Minister Theresa May’s tenuous hold on the House of Commons—not to mention her own Tory party—means that her government has to negotiate with multiple groups with wildly divergent views of what Brexit should be or if it should even occur. To say that this process has not been going well is an understatement. It’s further complicated by the fact that many government ministers and MPs from all parties, the majority of the civil service and large segments of the press opposed Brexit, have never accepted the referendum result, and resent the entire exercise.

Keep reading but my take is that Britain has the same problem that we do, the bureaucracy has revolted and taken over the joint with the acquiescence (often verging on outright support) of the legislators themselves. The voters no longer matter to many of these.

Dan Mitchell tells us that economically a Hard (I actually prefer WTO) Brexit will be far more beneficial to Britain than any deal, let alone the travesty of May’s withdrawal agreement. He’s right and he’s also where we found the picture that leads this article. More sense and more cartoons in the article.

My views on Brexit haven’t changed since I wrote “The Economic Case for Brexit” back in 2016.

It’s a simple issue of what route is most likely to produce prosperity for the people of the United Kingdom. And that means escaping the dirigiste grasp of the European Union.

And finally, Mark America takes a look at the Brexit situation noted in our first link, in an American historical context.  His conclusion is the same as mine.

What happens when a referendum is held, but three years later, the government responsible for enacting the results of the referendum has failed to comply?  We’re about to learn the answer to that question, as the people of the UK have been betrayed by their government.  The people voted for “Brexit” very nearly three years ago.  Their government promised to carry out their wishes.  They wanted to leave the European Union.  Instead, rather than accede to the lawful demands of the people, the government has conspired to ignore those results, spending most of the intervening time trying to re-litigate the case in order to convince the public that it should not “Brexit.”  At this point, given this coup d’etatagainst the rule of law, the people of the UK would be justified in any action undertaken to forcibly remove the current government, cast off the parliament, and reform government anew.

Keep reading, he makes the case as well as anyone I’ve read. Well, except this guy:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

With his pen, Thomas Jefferson that day secured for America the support of about a third of Britain’s population. And now again, those same words call Britain itself, to hold itself to the higher standard that the English speaking world has always embraced. Will they? That is up to them. Remaining free, whatever the cost, is a judgment each of us must make for ourselves. But, I know what my decision would be. We shall see what sounds the Gales of April bring to our ears.

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