Answering Rex Huppke’s Question for Mundelein’s Mayor

Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz believes America is in a moral crisis.

He said so during a Fourth of July speech that wound up grabbing headlines, an address that veered from standard patriotic talk into concern about the recent legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court and the number of unmarried women having children.

Lentz said the court’s ruling on same-sex marriage is “really just one event in a decadeslong adventure in a moral crisis that we’re in.” He then said the “out-of-wedlock birthrate is just crazy high” and cited rates for black, Hispanic and white mothers that were, respectively, 70 percent, 50 percent and more than 30 percent.

“Our nation is in a moral crisis,” Lentz said during a ceremony at the Fort Hill Heritage Museum, “and it’s something that needs to be talked about more.”

OK. Let’s talk about it.

I emailed Lentz and asked about the nonmarital birthrates: “How do you feel about addressing this problem — and as you cited with the statistics you used in your speech, it’s certainly a problem — by making birth control more accessible to teenagers and lower-income women?”

I cited a July 5 article in The New York Times about a state program in Colorado that offered teenagers and low-income women “free intrauterine devices and implants that prevent pregnancy for years.”


The implication in the mayor’s speech — and the reason many found it offensive — is that same-sex marriage and unmarried women having children is a sign of moral erosion. He cited a long-out-of-print anthropological study from the 1930s that he said found cultures with “a strict code of marital monogamy, heterosexual marital monogamy” were the most successful.

What Lentz is describing as a moral crisis is really just a changing world. The fact that he’s not comfortable with those changes makes them a crisis to him, but not to the broad swath of people he was elected to represent.


Those who frame same-sex marriage as part of a moral crisis need to remember that they don’t have to get same-sex married. Their moral crisis is not everyone else’s moral crisis.

To the Mundelein mayor’s point on nonmarital birth rates — which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have actually declined by 14 percent since peaking in the late 2000s — it’s a nuanced subject that can’t be addressed by a woe-is-us mention of morality and the citation of an old study.

What Lentz and others who use the moral crisis trope are effectively saying is: “If everyone would just believe what I believe, then everything would be fine.”

That’s not going to happen. And even if it did, everything wouldn’t be fine. You can believe that gay people didn’t exist and teens didn’t get pregnant back in the good old days all you want, but that’s nonsense.

Were there lower rates of unmarried mothers? Yes, but women had less ability to make decisions for themselves and sexuality in general was unhealthily repressed.

Giving people easy access to contraception and sex education that goes well beyond teaching abstinence can help what Lentz describes as a crisis. And doing so, as with same-sex marriage, doesn’t mean people who morally oppose it have to take part.

– Rex Huppke, Chicago Tribune, July 8, 2015


I was disappointed to read that Mundelein’s mayor didn’t want to engage you regarding the substance of his speech and your question to him.  Since I share his concern about America’s moral crisis, I thought I would publish an answer for you.  You asked the mayor about addressing nonmarital birthrates by “making birth control more accessible to teenagers and lower-income women.”  Here is the problem with birth control, especially for teenagers — it suggests that we as human beings are no better than the animals around us.  We cannot (or will not) control our sexual appetites — we are creatures of lust that must give in to our desires at every turn and therefore the only solution to teenage sexual desire is to surrender to such desire and let teenage boys and girls have sex (encourage them to have sex?)  To use a technical term from moral philosophy, this idea is nonsense!  We are rational creatures that have intellects in addition to appetites — we are better than the animals around us.  We can control our desire and lust and indeed, should control these powerful emotions to channel them where they belong — in the context of a marital bond where they can be used to produce the next generation of children.  That is what our sexual powers were designed for.

This is all moral common sense — and this is why we also know homosexual desires are naturally disordered, as the Catholic Church likes to say.  Again, morality 101 — something we can use our rational abilities to come to agreement on — not the individual opinions of the mayor or Rex Huppke.  I suggest you try and start reading about the basics of the moral natural law.  I good place to start is at Professor J. Budziszewski’s blog (and/or articles and books.)  There you will learn that there is no such things as “same-sex marriage”, that our society can set up such a mirage only with profound and negative consequences for all of us, and that you have zero evidence that women were ever sexually “repressed.”  Incidentally, I find it amusing that you think that those of us who believe there is a moral crisis in America are really saying: “If everyone would just believe what I believe, then everything would be fine.”  Again, you have zero evidence this is true — maybe we just think life would be better than it is now.  And furthermore, why couldn’t we turn around and say the same about you progressive reformers — don’t you think society is better for implementing so-called “same-sex marriage”?

The real question remains who is right — who has the better moral, philosophical, and practical arguments for why society should be ordered the way it is.  Those of us who believe in so-called traditional morality suggest you look around at the consequences of the sexual revolution and we think our case is an easy one to make — the problem is that people don’t like to say no to their appetites!!!

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Punk Rock Movie? More Like Off Key Death Metal

It seems presumptuous in mid-February to declare a movie one of the best of 2015, but “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is so entertaining, so fresh, and so fearless that it seems destined to outshine the bulk of the unimaginative and timid films coming down the pike. A whip-smart script and great concept make it a riot to watch. Its insistence on skewering sacred cows of all stripes makes it one of the most provocative movies in years.

Director Matthew Vaughn mixes a wallop of James Bond with a bit of Austin Powers, stirs in a little “Hunger Games,” adds a flavor of “My Fair Lady,” and finishes it off with a dash of “28 Days Later.” The result may sound odd, but in the hands of the right cook, the flavors blend just right.

– Rebecca Cusey in The Federalist

Dear Ms. Cusey,

I do hate to have to disagree with you so vehemently — you seem like a delightful person and an excellent writer (does Ben hire any other kind?) But I think you miss the mark with this review.

First, let me say that you are quite right to praise director Vaughn and his screen-writers for many of the decisions/risks they took. The villain played by Samuel Jackson is fantastic (how many megalomaniacs want to destroy civilization just to save it from global warming!) and the fact that he would show President Obama going for this scheme is delightful to this conservative.

There are other elements to like including the performances of Colin Firth and the young newcomer Taron Egerton and the always reliable Michael Caine. I also liked the dancer who played the deadly female assassin with CGI blades for her feet.

That said, I thought the tone shifts in the film were very problematic. Specifically, about half-way through the movie the tone changes – at that point it was a PG-13 film and suddenly it turns into a crazed R-rated Tarantino-esque orgy of violence (obviously at the scene in the church). I thought the new tone might have worked, but Vaughn kept shifting back and forth between the two styles and that didn’t work for me — for example, the exploding heads were just silly and might have worked in a different film, but I Kept saying to myself ‘I thought we were now watching a serious and violent film that had upped the stakes for the characters — suddenly we get fireworks heads?’ And then while the world goes mad and thousands of people are killing each other, we cut to the one person who matters for “Eggsy”, his mother and half-sister which seems like a serious scene that belongs in a different film. And how did the world recover so easily from all that mayhem and destruction? The tone shifting was bad and kept me from easing into the film in the second half.

The second key problem is the scene in a “hate church” obviously modeled after Westboro. During the beginning of that scene the church is full and the preacher’s sermon starts out just like any normal, conservative orthodox Christian preacher might preach (with a bit of apocalyptic rhetoric thrown in). We hear about the evils of abortion, homosexuality, divorce, etc. Then the preacher kicks it into full-on hate mode – the message to the viewer? It’s all of a piece – opposition to sodomy and abortion and divorce is just like hate for other races! Was that the screen-writer(s) or Vaughn’s intent? Who knows, but as someone with orthodox Christian views, I didn’t like it.

Finally, what you call “one particularly dirty joke and a very sexy nude hindside in extreme close-up” at the end of the film I call nasty gratuitous sexual material added that was totally unnecessary to the plot. Think about it, especially in contrast to a James Bond film — our hero could have still had a “sexy” scene with the young lady at the end without making it vulgar. Again, it was off-key and created a shift in tone that made the whole second-half of the movie a fail for me. Perhaps a clever and daring failure, but a failure none-the-less. Bring on Avengers: Age of Ultron — I need some traditional superheroes after this mess.

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Movies: I Saw A Few In 2014

Dear Netflix,

Thanks for providing an excellent product/service. We just started using the streaming service in our house in 2014 and thanks to you I was able to catch up on a lot of Asian action films that I had never watched before. By far my favorites were the pair of films “Tai Chi Zero” and Tai Chi Hero”. The action was good but the story telling is zany and fun — the film-makers have a blast with Chinese action-film conventions (stuff like title-cards popping up in the middle of the movie telling you what famous actor is playing which role, wacky graphics to illustrate a point, etc.) The story is coherent (if implausible) but I have to admit the melodrama actually got to me (there is a great father/son sub-plot that was emotional and brought a tear to my eye upon resolution).


I also can’t recommend the Korean film “The Thieves” highly enough — it also had Chinese actors (a lot of action takes place in Hong Kong) and they all did a great job. The story has all sorts of double-crossing and plot twists and the action is fantastic. Well made and slick (the Koreans have been making good movies for awhile now — that’s why Hollywood has been calling, i.e. “Oldboy” and the director of “Snowpiercer”.) Just great entertainment.

Speaking of Hong Kong, the famous producer/director Hark Tsui made two different “Detective Dee” films — both feature awesome special effects and lots of fun action. I could watch another ten Detective Dee films — he is a great character — basically a Chinese Sherlock Holmes!!!

Sticking with Hong Kong, there is also the wonderful Stephen Chow, who’s “Journey to the West” may actually have been released in the U.S. last year (it is only a year old). I can’t recommend the film enough — like the Tai Chi films it is full of humor and great action and also has Chow’s trademark zany special effects and inventive fight scenes. Plus, Qi Shu is easy on the eyes!!!

Finally, in a more serious vein, I saw John Woo’s two part epic of Chinese history called “Red Cliff” focused on the famous Han dynasty Prime Minister Cao Cao. Great battle scenes — maybe even better battles than Peter Jackson’s orcs fighting the dwarves, elves, and men!!!

There were a couple of additional not so great kung-fu movies — the ones above were the best of the bunch.

As for 2014 movie releases I saw in the theater — I thought both Marvel movies were great (I’m a big fan of their stuff and loved “The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”). Marvel’s property the X-Men also had a nice showing with “Days of Future Past” — Fassbender is great as Magneto.

I thought “Transformers 4″ was a mess, but as usual, my city (Chicago) looked great in the movie!!! I’ll probably do a post on some great “Transformers 3” and “4” shots of Chicago.

My favorite film of 2014 by far was “Interstellar” — Nolan at his best and given that I’m a science fiction geek and the father of two girls the movies was like crack cocaine for me.

I liked “Locke” very much — who knew ‘Bane’ could be so entertaining talking in a car for over one hour?

“300: Rise of An Empire” was better than I expected (and Eva Green!) — also very good battle scenes in that film and despite all the historical nonsense, I think the movie conveyed what a trireme naval battle might have been like (in a stylized sort of way).

By far the biggest surprise was Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow” — I wish that movie made more money as it was just fantastic from beginning to end. Special effects were top notch, the action was amazing, the story was great and Tom’s acting was superb — yes, superb. The key was his character — he had to play a jerk who learns how to become a hero and he did a great job in the first half of the film as “jerk Tom Cruise”. It was nice to see him play against type.

“The Raid 2″ was the biggest non-surprise — movie geeks like me were hoping it would be just as amazing as the first film and we weren’t disappointed. The sequel is even more insane and intense than the first film!!!

The final “Hobbit” was movie was O.K. — nothing special but I didn’t hate it the way some Tolkien fan boys did.

Cartoons — with my kids I got to see “The Lego Movie” which was absolutely delightful. I’ve now watched it again on DVD and loved it just as much on the second viewing. “Big Hero 6″ was fun (good, not great) and “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ was good, not great.

So that’s a quick run-down of my movie-watching for 2014. I’m obviously excited about Marvel films coming out in 2015 as well as a little film having something to do with a galaxy far, far away. Also, the new “Mad Max” movie looks mental.

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Welcome to 2015

Dear faithful readers (all three of you — and I think you may all be spam bots),

This blog has been dormant for the second half of 2014 and quite frankly wasn’t that active in the first half of 2014. What can I say — I’m lazy I have many responsibilities and write for a group blog (that will remain nameless to protect my anonymity) and I just don’t have a lot of time to share my goofy thoughts brilliant insight with the rest of the world.

I hope to change that in 2015 — expect to see a lot more activity here with shorter, more frequent posts as well as some longer pieces that I wrote last year but never got around to publishing. So in the spirit of short and pithy blog posts, here is a good one:

I’m catching up on an old The Atlantic magazine (I think it’s time to cancel that lame subscription) and these two headlines on the cover caught my eye:

1) “The Art of Being Lena Dunham”

2) “The Greatest Scams of All Time”

Couldn’t the editors have saved some cover space and just included the article about Dunham with the second article? That’s all for now!

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Star Wars Reacts to Chicago!

Some reactions from a galaxy far, far away concerning Chicago getting the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art:

Yoda: Lakefront in summer, beautiful it is; Norman Rockwell paintings are strong in the force as well.

Princess Amidala: Let’s hope the City Council doesn’t restrict the trade routes to the museum for tourists coming and going from Naboo.

Jabba the Hutt: “Takka Doba Naka Doo Runda Hutt So Inta Yorba.  Jabba He He Doba Ky-Lari Ra He Wanda Runda So Jari.”  Or, in English: “I hope that the Council has paid proper tribute to the Hutt Clans.  Jabba will be happy to speak with a representative of the Council about the envelope of $100 bills he recently received in private on Tatooine.”

Han Solo: “Do I have to kiss Carrie Fisher in the new movies?  Has she lost some weight?…What?  You want to know about Chicago?  I had a bad experience the last time I was there with a one-armed man.”

Chancellor Palpatine: “I have just met with the Mayor and George Lucas and we all agree that the lakefront site and Chicago are a world-class – no, a galaxy-worthy choice for this great museum.”

Darth Sidious: “Patience Rahm, everything is going according to plan…”

Mace Windu: “What the heck is George doing with that fine sista?!  He is strong in the force!”

Lando Calrissian: “Mellody, if you change your mind, the Cloud City would be happy to host you…I mean, the Museum, here.

Jar Jar Binks: “Me so glad Chicago won contest!  Imm’a not so sure how to speak in this’a crazy patois, but Imm’a gonna try it out and maybe I won’t make’a Mellody angry.”

Princess Leia: “Han said what about me!  He just can’t stop being a jerk, can he?  I wish Chicago all the best – I only wish Alderaan could still host the museum.”

R2-D2: “Beep, bop, tweet, whistle, long whistle, low beep, beep, bop.”  Or, in English: “I don’t know how the heck you people understand me, but congratulations to Chicago – do they have droid repair facilities there?”

C-3PO: “Oh dear, I’m afraid Chicago’s murder rate is quite high compared to Endor.”

Count Dooku: “I will have Sauron’s ring and there is noth…wait, I’m in the wrong movie?!  Sorry about that.  The lighting shooting from my hand is all you need to know about Chicago you fool!”

Bossk: “Hissssssssssssss.  Hiss, hiss, hisssssssssssssssssss.”  Or in English: “Wow, you are going deep into third-string characters for these reactions…did I even have dialogue in ‘Empire’?”

Dear George Lucas (and Mellody Hobson),

Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming to Chicago — we (well, at least me) are excited about the museum and look forward to the designs and can’t wait to learn more about the collection that you’ll be hosting.

Welcome to your new home — and thank goodness the Presidio couldn’t accommodate your needs!

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Neil Steinberg Just Writes Bad Columns

Were I to ask you what color seat you would like on your bus trip to Cleveland, you would probably reply, “But I’m not going to Cleveland.”

Were I to insist, fanning a few fabric swatches before you — maroon, a powdery blue, hunter green — you would answer, “It doesn’t MATTER what color, because I don’t want to take a bus to Cleveland!”

Sadly, this simple logic escapes us when it comes to matters political. We fall to debating specifics — the color of the seat — ignoring a key overarching fact: Some of us want to take the trip; others don’t.

The original intention of this column was to look at the state of Illinois with a cool, dispassionate eye and ask: Is Bruce Rauner right? Are we really much worse off under Gov. Pat Quinn? Rauner points to our 8.7 percent unemployment, second highest in the nation. The Quinn people, however, observe that when he took office, it was 11.4 percent. Rauner focuses on the bloat of government, Quinn on how much has been cut.


Me, I’m Democratic by breeding — my parents are Democrats; my father, in fact, worked for the government, NASA, for most of his career. And by choice. I make that decision by what I call the Baby Conundrum. If you find a baby on your doorstep, you either a) raise it yourself b) take it to the nearest church or c) call the cops.

To me, a) is strange and nobody would do it; b) is theoretical and while Republicans pay lip service, they never call their church to report a fire. The rational person answers is c). You want a government that cares for abandoned babies (fetuses aren’t babies, your Pavlovian bell isn’t ringing) and schools them and treats them when they’re sick. I’ve never heard an argument that explains why that logic falls apart as they get older.

Chicago Sun-Times, March 30, 2014

Dear Neil,

Thanks so much for inspiring me to blog again. I had a list of various topics that was accumulating on my desk for quite some time and quite frankly, I was just being intellectually lazy by not sitting down and doing the hard work of getting my thoughts down on the computer. Then you come along and write one of your more insipid columns and viola! – I am inspired to shake off my lethargy and point out all the flaws in the words that pass for arguments you submitted to your editors at the Sun-Times (shame on them for publishing such dreck – but then their paper used to be worthy of reading every day – today not so much).

I know you think you were being clever and thoughtful in this column – “step back dear reader and try and look at the big picture like I do: ‘Is government good or bad?’” In philosophical argumentation, this could perhaps be considered a species of the classic “straw-man argument”, although really it is just a foolish question having nothing to do with good arguments for American politics and public policy. In the abstract “government” is never all good or all bad – unless you believe in anarchy, which most conservatives and Republican reject, then sometimes government is “good” and sometimes it is “bad” and sometimes it can be both at the same time (and our Founders were acutely aware of this danger which is why they set up a system with so many checks and balances so that both any good or bad done by government would in theory be limited).

So then when you say, “If you think government is a good thing, in the main, then you’re a Democrat. You want preschoolers to get that cup of free morning gruel, want rehab clinics for drug addicts…selling tainted meat, then you want the USDA to be on them like a cloud of hornets” you are basically being ridiculous (and sloppy with your descriptions, e.g. the government doesn’t give “free morning gruel” to all preschoolers – just the poor ones in Head Start, which of course has been shown to provide no educational benefit to kids, but at least they get their gruel!!!)

As for whether or not that list of services can only be provided by some level of government (e.g. how did Americans manage to survive all those years without a state or federal emergency service agency – I mean did they actually help one another or something?) — that’s precisely the question to be answered. Yes Neil, you need to expand your imagination and think to yourself maybe churches and other private charities can do more for those in need. And maybe not every solution to a “problem” should be “fixed”; at times the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And it is not like small government conservatives have never heard of the dreaded “tainted meat” argument! Do some research next time when you want to list important government-run public goods!!

Then you present your “Baby Conundrum” as if this is a hard question for conservatives/Republicans. Of course we would choose (b) — why wouldn’t we want to drop off a baby with a church-run orphanage – especially one that tried to place their charges with loving parents (i.e. a mother and a father). Why bring up the non-sequitur of a fire department? First of all, in many small towns there are volunteer fire departments and very few professionals – they can’t afford to pay for a fully-staffed, unionized department. Second of all, what the heck does putting out fires, which I agree is a perfectly appropriate use of local government powers, have to do with the question of the provision and care of orphans? Try and stay focused Neil – your mind tends to wander when you attempt to prove the “rational answer” to your poorly constructed questions.

As for the Affordable Care Act – well, people of good will can certainly agree to disagree on what the law will or will not accomplish and who it will eventually help and/or hurt. Obviously, I think the law is a mess and is only making our health-care system worse than it already was; although what this has to do with my imagined positions on “race and women” I can only wonder (e.g. are you talking about the way the Democratic party stood for segregation and eugenics during the first half of the twentieth century? I agree it is a shameful record for Democrats and liberals – I wonder how you sleep at night living with such a history.)

Finally, this business about religion being a “private matter” – this is apparently the approved new Democratic/liberal talking point. Too bad that’s not how the Founders conceived of the First Amendment, that’s not how religious people like Martin Luther King Jr. conceive of their religious beliefs, and that’s not how anyone goes about their life – everyone uses some sort of personal philosophy or belief system to inform their public decisions and opinions. While we guarantee the diversity of religious practice (even though your Jewish beliefs are false, you are allowed to practice them thanks to the First Amendment), we also guarantee through the First Amendment the right of a free people to use their religious beliefs to inform their moral outlook and “make [their] neighbors/employees do what they don’t want to.” Indeed, Neil, you do the same thing every time you go to the polls and vote for your favored legislation that your neighbor doesn’t want enacted – that’s how democracy works and unless you reject living under a government whose policies you don’t agree with (e.g. by refusing to pay taxes) that’s how you and religious folks have always lived together in this country.

Maybe it is time to go back to reporting — your column days are numbered.

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Ron Unz is Silly

The notion of individuals and businesses carrying their own weight seems just as alien to the sort of present-day Republicans whose perspectives are welcome within the confines of the elite media. For example, a long New York Times column by Prof. Gregory Mankiw, a former top economic advisor to President George W. Bush, suggested that it was unfair and morally wrong to expect businesses to cover the costs of their own employees since the responsibility was obviously that of our society as a whole. Whereas Hillary Clinton famously declared that “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child,” the sort of thinkers who will probably be advising her Republican opponent in 2016 are suggesting that “It Takes an Entire Country to Run a Business” (or at least to pay the business’s employees). Back when I was younger, I think this notion was called “Communism,” but these days it’s considered Mainstream Republicanism.


Meanwhile, some of the more mainstream conservative critics of a minimum wage hike are certainly living up to their “Fox-tard” reputation. For example, National Review’s Jim Geraghty just ran a column ridiculing the impact of a $10.10 minimum wage by pointing out that only 1.1% of American workers earn the current minimum wage of $7.25. He argued that since such a tiny number of workers likely to benefit from the proposed change, Obama and the Democrats were merely engaging in populist demagoguery on the issue, and his absurdly innumerate reasoning was Tweeted out to a vast audience of fellow “Fox-tards,” probably numbering a million or more. As it happens, almost 31% of American wage-earners would get a raise under a $10.10 minimum wage, and 31% is considerably larger than 1.1% but statistics do tend to confuse some people.

The careless words or careless thinking of Republicans do sometimes get them into trouble, especially if they follow certain ideas to their logical conclusions.

After all, it is totally obvious that every argument currently advanced against the idea of raising the minimum wage is an equally strong argument for lowering it, but individuals who take that position quickly regret doing so. Just a few days ago, the media reported that a wealthy Republican financier running for governor of Illinois had told an audience that his state needed to cut its minimum wage to regain economic competitiveness, and that “pro-poverty” suggestion seems likely to swamp his candidacy, notwithstanding his desperate retraction and even his newfound support for a federal $10 minimum wage.

– from “Rightwingers for Higher Wages”

Dear Ron,

Really? You want to be taken seriously by conservatives and this is what you write in defense of your minimum wage proposal? You should be ashamed of yourself, but then you are a guy who proudly links to all sorts of nasty kooks and crazies without any shame whatsoever.

Be that as it may, I was particularly amused to see you’ve picked up the cudgel once again for the minimum wage — yes, I’m quite sure it has given you “new found respect” among all sorts of liberals who would otherwise be hostile to your views since you recognize the truth of biological human differences. But the reason all of us proud “Fox-tards” think you are nuts (although truth be told, I only occasionally watch television news, and I think Greg Gutfeld is the best thing on Fox), is that you always seem to avoid the best arguments against the minimum wage — now why would that be? As you know, basic supply and demand suggests that when you artificially raise the price of something, you’ll force consumers of that good (in this case low-wage labor) to use less of it. Now, given an inelastic demand (i.e. a vertical, or almost vertical demand curve), this effect could be small. And obviously you like to highlight all the economists who find this to be true (or you make arguments that mirror these economists analyses) and ignore all the analysts/economists who disagree.

Furthermore, you twist the argument folks like Mankiw are making with respect to the Earned Income Tax Credit. A worker is either worth $X to a business or he isn’t (with respect to the bottom line) — a business is not a social service agency, or a government agency, etc. We can of course, tax businesses separate and apart from taxes on the general population; but why those taxes should fall on business owners and not the general population is not clear with respect to a minimum wage (which is just a special kind of tax on business owners who employ low-wage labor). There is no special reason that those business owners should be forced to pay to help a low-wage worker raise his family at the same time they are forced to help a low-wage teenager make extra money for a new iPod. But a minimum wage makes no distinctions between the two while putting a special burden on a class of business owners who are being singled out simply because they provide a service that doesn’t require much in the way of skilled labor. If we all like that service, and at the same time want to help low-wage workers who have to support families, why shouldn’t we all pitch in — that’s Mankiw’s argument.

Finally, I’ve gone over Jim Geraghty’s numbers multiple times and you are a jerk for calling him innumerate, especially when he linked to his sources and you fail to provide a link to yours (or your reasoning). Presumably, you define “wage-earner” differently than “worker”, which is fine; but again, Jim linked to his source so it would be honorable of you to link to yours (e.g. this source suggests that only 5.2% of “workers paid hourly rates” would be impacted by a raise in the minimum wage, unless you are also assuming that there is some sort of cascade effect from raising the minimum wage — but again, you don’t explain your assumptions, you just throw out snark).

I’m quite sure you’ll ignore this tiny blog from an anonymous writer, but I hope the folks who do stumble across my piece and were inclined to take Unz seriously, will stop it right away!

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I recently read “What Went Wrong: The Collapse of the Israeli Palestinian Peace Process,” which appeared (behind a firewall) in Political Science Quarterly in the summer of 2001. (The essay is available online to subscribers and those with access to various academic data bases). I’ve not seen anywhere a more careful and substantial debunking of the main talking points of Israeli hasbara, from the notion that the war was forced upon Israelis who in 1948 were otherwise all too happy to accept the UN’s partition resolution, to the idea that Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians everything they could conceivably have wanted for an independent state at Camp David in 2000, only to have Yasser Arafat walk away. Both propositions are simply false, though they have become–through constant media repetition—very nearly the American received wisdom. Since there is no reason to think that Bibi Netanyahu is more inclined to allow the Palestinians a viable state than Barak was, there really is little chance that Kerry’s mission will succeed—unless of course the Palestinian leadership has been sufficiently corrupted and bribed to sell out legitimate Palestinian aspirations.

Since Slater’s exemplary scholarship is not easily available on the internet, I will quote at length several of his paragraphs, which challenge the conventional wisdom but should be part of it.

The evidence is now irrefutable that David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, and the other leading Zionists “accepted” the UN compromise only as a necessary tactical step that would later be reversed, a base from which Israel would later expand to include all of biblical Palestine. In many private statements, Ben-Gurion was quite explicit, as in a 1937 letter to his son: “A partial Jewish state is not the end, but only the beginning. The establishment of such a Jewish state will serve as a means in our historical efforts to redeem the country in its entirety. . . . We shall organize a modern defense force . . .and then I am certain that we will not be prevented from settling in other parts of the country, either by mutual agreement with our Arab neighbors or by some other means. . . . We will expel the Arabs and take their places . . . with the force at our disposal.” A year later, Ben-Gurion told a Zionist meeting: “I favor partition of the country because when we become a strong power after the establishment of the state, we will abolish partition and spread throughout all of Palestine.” And “Palestine,” as understood by the Zionists, included the West Bank, Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan Heights, southern Lebanon, and much of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

– from “Kerry’s Quest for an Israel-Palestinian Peace: What You First Need to Know

Dear Scott McConnell,

Here is a serious question for you and all the so-called conservatives at The American Conservative Liberal. Why would you be quoting someone like Slater who retails in slander?

I found that with a quick Google search…you and the editors should be ashamed of yourself.

Have you made any effort to get at the truth? Of course not — for some reason you decided that the Jews are the villains in the Middle-East and everything else falls into place after that decision.

Where are the adults at that magazine who are willing to stand up to this nonsense? Shameful.

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He Never Said “Rivers of Blood”

The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature. One is that by the very order of things such evils are not demonstrable until they have occurred: At each stage in their onset there is room for doubt and for dispute whether they be real or imaginary. By the same token, they attract little attention in comparison with current troubles, which are both indisputable and pressing: whence the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future.

Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: ‘if only’, they love to think, ‘if only people wouldn’t talk about it, it probably wouldn’t happen’. Perhaps this habit goes back to the primitive belief that the word and the thing, the name and the object, are identical. At all events, the discussion of future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils is the most unpopular and at the same time the most necessary occupation for the politician. Those who knowingly shirk it deserve, and not infrequently receive, the curses of those who come after.

A week or two ago I fell into conversation with a constituent, a middle-aged, quite ordinary working man employed in one of our nationalized industries. After a sentence or two about the weather, he suddenly said: ‘If I had the money to go, I wouldn’t stay in this country.’ I made some deprecatory reply, to the effect that even this Government wouldn’t last for ever; but he took no notice, and continued: ‘I have three children, all of them have been through grammar school and two of them married now, with family. I shan’t be satisfied till I have seen them settled overseas. In this country in fifteen or twenty years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.’

I can already hear the chorus of execration. How dare I say such a horrible thing? How dare I stir up trouble and inflame feelings by repeating such a conversation? The answer is that I do not have the right not to do so. Here is a decent, ordinary fellow Englishman, who in broad daylight in my own town says to me, his Member of Parliament, that this country will not be worth living in for his children. I simply do not have the right to shrug my shoulders and think about something else. What he is saying, thousands and hundreds of thousands are saying and thinking – not throughout Great Britain, perhaps, but in the areas that are already undergoing the total transformation to which there is no parallel in a thousand years of English history.

In fifteen or twenty years, on present trends, there will be in this country 3 1/2 million Commonwealth immigrants and their descendants. That is not my figure. That is the official figure given to Parliament by the spokesman of the Registrar General’s office. There is no comparable official figure for the year 2000, but it must be in the region of 5-7 million, approximately one-tenth of the whole population, and approaching that of Greater London. Of course, it will not be evenly distributed from Margate to Aberystwyth and from Penzance to Aberdeen. Whole areas, towns and parts of towns across England will be occupied by different sections of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population.


Nothing is more misleading than comparison between the Commonwealth immigrant in Britain and the American Negro. The Negro population of the United states, which was already in existence before the United States became a nation, started literally as slaves and were later given the franchise and other rights of citizenship, to the exercise of which they have only gradually and still incompletely come. The Commonwealth immigrant came to Britain as a full citizen, to a country which knows no discrimination between one citizen and another, and he entered instantly into the possession of the rights of every citizen, from the vote to free treatment under the National Health Service. Whatever drawbacks attended the immigrants – and they were drawbacks which did not, and do not, make admission into Britain by hook or by crook appear less than desirable – arose not from the law or from public policy or from administration but from those personal circumstances and accidents which cause, and always will cause, the fortunes and experience of one man to be different for another’s.

But while to the immigrant entry to this country was admission to privileges and opportunities eagerly sought, the impact upon the existing population was very different. For reasons which they could not comprehend, and in pursuance of a decision by default, on which they were never consulted, they found themselves made strangers in their own country. They found their wives unable to obtain hospital beds in childbirth, their children unable to obtain school places, their homes and neighbourhoods changed beyond recognition, their plans and prospects for the future defeated; at work they found that employers hesitated to apply to the immigrant worker the standards of discipline and competence required of the native-born worker; they began to hear, as time went by, more and more voices which told them that they were now the unwanted. On top of this, they now learn that a one-way privilege is to be established by Act of Parliament: a law, which cannot, and is not intended, to operate to protect them or redress their grievances, is to be enacted to give the stranger, the disgruntled and the agent provocateur the power to pillory them for their private actions.

In the hundreds upon hundreds of letters I received when I last spoke on this subject two or three months ago, there was one striking feature which was largely new and which I find ominous. All Members of Parliament are used to the typical anonymous correspondent; but what surprised and alarmed me was the high proportion of ordinary, decent, sensible people, writing a rational and often well-educated letter, who believed that they had to omit their address because it was dangerous to have committed themselves to paper to a Member of Parliament agreeing with the views I had expressed, and that they would risk either penalties or reprisals if they were known to have done so. The sense of being a persecuted minority which is growing among ordinary English people in the areas of the country which are affected is something that those without direct experience can hardly imagine. I am going to allow just one of those hundreds of people to speak for me. She did give her name and address, which I have detached from the letter which I am about to read. She was writing from Northumberland about something which is happening at this moment in my own constituency:

Eight years ago in a respectable street in Wolverhampton a house was sold to a Negro. Now only one white (a woman old-age pensioner) lives there. This is her story. She lost her husband and both her sons in the war. So she turned her seven-roomed house, her only asset, into a boarding house. She worked hard and did well, paid off her mortgage and began to put something by for her old age. Then the immigrants moved in. With growing fear, she saw one house after another taken over. The quiet streets became a place of noise and confusion.

Regretfully, her white tenants moved out.

The day after the last one left, she was awakened at 7 a.m. by two Negroes who wanted to use her phone to contact their employer. When she refused, as she would have refused any stranger at such an hour, she was abused and feared she would have been attacked but for the chain on her door. Immigrant families have tried to rent rooms in her house, but she always refused. Her little store of money went, and after paying her rates, she had less than £2 per week. She went to apply for a rate reduction and was seen by a young girl, who on hearing she had a seven-roomed house, suggested she should let part of it. When she said the only people she could get were Negroes, the girl said ‘racial prejudice won’t get you anywhere in this country’. So she went home.

The telephone is her lifeline. Her family pay the bill, and help her out as best they can. Immigrants have offered to buy her house – at a price which the prospective landlord would be able to recover from his tenants in weeks, or at most in a few months. She is becoming afraid to go out.

Windows are broken. She finds excreta pushed through her letterbox. When she goes to the shops, she is followed by children, charming, wide-grinning piccaninnies. They cannot speak English, but one word they know. ‘Racialist’, they chant. When the new Race Relations Bill is passed, this woman is convinced she will go to prison. And is she so wrong? I begin to wonder.

The other dangerous delusion from which those who are wilfully or otherwise blind to realities suffer, is summed up in the word ‘integration’. To be integrated into a population means to become for all practical purposes indistinguishable from its other members. Now, at all times, where there are marked physical differences, especially of colour, integration is difficult though, over a period, not impossible. There are among the Commonwealth immigrants have come to live here in the last fifteen years or so, many thousands whose wish and purpose is to be integrated and whose every thought and endeavour is bent in that direction. But to imagine that such a thing enters the heads of a great and growing majority of immigrants and their descendants is a ludicrous misconception, and a dangerous one to boot.

We are on the verge of here of a change. Hitherto it has been force of circumstance and of background which has rendered the very idea of integration inaccessible to the greater part of the immigrant population – that they never conceived or intended such a thing, and that their numbers and physical concentration meant the pressures towards integration which normally bear upon any small minority did not operate. Now we are seeing the growth of positive forces acting against integration, of vested interests in the preservation and sharpening of racial and religious differences, with a view to the exercise of action domination, first over fellow immigrants and then over the rest of the population. The cloud no bigger than a man’s hand, that can so rapidly overcast the sky, has been visible recently in Wolverhampton and has shown signs of spreading quickly. The words I am about to use, verbatim as they appeared in the local press on 17 February, are not mine, but those of a Labour Member of Parliament who is a Minister in the present Government.

The Sikh communities’ campaign to maintain customs inappropriate in Britain is much to be regretted. Working in Britain, particularly in the public services, they should be prepared to accept the terms and conditions of their employment. To claim special communal rights (or should one say rites?) leads to a dangerous fragmentation within society. This communalism is a canker: whether practised by one colour or another it is to be strongly condemned.

All credit to John Stonehouse for having had the insight to perceive that, and the courage to say it.

For these dangerous and divisive elements the legislation proposed in the Race Relations Bill is the very pabulum they need to flourish. Here is the means of showing that the immigrant communities can organize to consolidate their members, to agitate and campaign against their fellow citizens, and to overawe and dominate the rest with the legal weapons which the ignorant and the ill-informed have provided. As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding.

Like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood’. That tragic and intractable phenomenon which we watch with horror on the other side of the Atlantic but which there is interwoven with the history and existence of the States itself, is coming upon us here by our own volition and our own neglect. Indeed, it has all but come. In numerical terms, it will be of American proportions long before the end of the century.

Only resolute and urgent action will avert it even now. Whether there will be the public will to demand and obtain that action, I do not know. All I know is that to see, and not to speak, would be the great betrayal.
entical. At all events, the discussion of future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils is the most unpopular and at the same time the most necessary occupation for the politician. Those who knowingly shirk it, deserve, and not infrequently receive, the curses of those who come after.

Dear Mr. Powell,

I hope you are looking down upon your people in heaven, regretfully aware that your prophetic vision has come to pass (and then some!) Soon after this speech, you later projected that Britain’s non-white population would grow from 1.2 million, in 1968 to 4.5 million in 2002 (in 2001 it was 4,635,296). You were also right about “whole areas, towns and parts of towns across England will be occupied by sections of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population.” Quoting Virgil didn’t do any good — the so-called intelligensia of your noble country didn’t want to listen to your message, just like the intelligensia ignore the warnings smart folks try to make about immigrants in this country. But you were a class act who tried your best to do what was right — I can only hope we who follow in your footsteps here in America do the same.

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When It Comes To Education, Nobody Knows Nothing

I ask the Serras if there’s anything CPS could do to keep middle-class families. Sue says it should add more high schools with special programs for kids “who aren’t in the top 1 percent, but maybe they’re in the top 10 percent.”

She also thinks CPS needs to make its neighborhood high schools more attractive. “Let’s say there was a big plan to completely rehab Mather—to put an addition on it, and bring in new staff and a new principal, and introduce some kind of cool curriculum, some new style of learning. It would have made us think a lot harder about staying.”

Sandro’s not so sure. “In my mind, it always comes back to the home.” He says he means the home of the children who’d be his daughters’ classmates. “Do they have a good home environment?”

Sandro says he realizes that many parents on the south and west sides have children in schools far worse than Mather. “I’m so empathetic for those folks because they don’t deserve that,” he says. “Crime and poverty is higher in those areas. It’s a formula for disaster. I don’t see how you can function on the level of funding we have now.”

He thinks the city should increase taxes for its schools, and the state should also spend far more on education. He notes that Illinois ranks last nationally in school funding. “That’s an absolute atrocious joke,” he says.

– from the Chicago Reader’s September 24, 2013 cover story “Three families tell us why they ditched CPS”

Dear Sandro (and Steve Bogira, who should know better),

I thought the portrait of you and your family sketched out by the writer Steve Borgia in the above referenced article was absolutely delightful. You, your wife and your daughters would make great neighbors up here on the northwest side (where you should have moved in the first place so you had a good local elementary school and high school — but you would have missed out on some city amenities, so I guess it might not have been worth it for you and your wife and at the time). Anyway, I think you make an excellent point about the home environment of our State’s children, even better than you realize. Because quite frankly, there is not much that even the best school can do for kids who don’t have the smarts or come from screwed up homes. And even more quite frankly, you are going to find a lot of those kids on the south and west sides of Chicago — and spending more money on those kids isn’t going to help one bit.

In addition, it is very misleading for you say “the state should also spend far more on education…Illinois ranks last nationally in school funding”. Most common-sense, fair readings of those statements would suggest that on a per-pupil basis, Illinois spends less than other states on education — which is not true. Steve Bogira’s sneaky link tells the real story — Illinois happens to fund schools mostly through property taxes rather than some sort of state sales tax or the lottery (although we use those methods as well). But if you check out this link you find that Illinois is actually ranked number 22 out of 50 states with respect to per-pupil spending — and it is worth pointing out that number 2 is the well-functioning, high-achieving schools of Washington DC and number 50 is the cesspit of crumbling schools and burnouts living in the state of Utah (can you detect a hint of sarcasm — if not, you should). Can you tell me anything different about the schools in Utah and DC besides the fact that Utah spends only $6,212 per student and DC spends almost three times as much at $18,475? And what’s funny about both Utah and DC is that neither system is particularly diverse — but one gets good outcomes and one doesn’t. I wonder why…

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