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Euphemism of the Year?

Once upon a time, “juvenile delinquent” was a nice way to say “young criminal.”  As often happens, however, eventually even the euphemism is thought to be too harsh, and so a better one has to be found.  And so one has:  This Obama-administration press release last week talked a lot about “justice-involved youth.” 

Then, to top itself, the administration broadened the euphemism to include criminals of all ages, with Attorney General Lynch referring to “justice-involved individuals.”   

And then, after that, it continued still further in this vein last week, referring to “justice-involved Veterans.”  

After my noting it, the Washington Times picked up on this in an editorial this week, and other conservative sites have now noted it, too.

Law and Loyalty -- Last week the White House also released presidential proclamations for Law Day and Loyalty Day, each observed on May 1.  They are exactly what you would expect from this administration. 

The latter proclamation is not about loyalty at all, and the former is all about one of the Warren Court’s signature decisions, Miranda v. Arizona.  (For a different perspective on the Warren Court’s criminal justice jurisprudence in general, and the Miranda decision in particular, view this clip.)

The Bigger Problem -- In a New York Times op-ed over the weekend, the author asserts that Donald Trump’s “candidacy has brought prejudice into the open, and I’m glad” since it proves that racism is alive and well in America.  My response:

The fact is that there are racists out there, and the fact is that there are people out there who exaggerate the number of racists we have. No serious person thinks that racism has vanished from our country, and only a delusional person denies that the amount of racism in our country has declined dramatically in the past 50 years. The fact that there are some racists does not vindicate the claims of those who would like to believe that we suffer from "systemic racism," just as the fact that we have a black president doesn't prove that there is no longer any racism.

So how do we continue to make progress? We've made discrimination illegal in just about any activity, and racism is not socially acceptable in most circles, and that's all to the good. But the persistence of the racial disparities faced by African Americans is more a result of culture -- and particularly the catastrophic (71 percent) out-of-wedlock birthrate -- than of discrimination, and that has to be acknowledged and addressed, too.

Jayson Blair, Call Your Office  -- From the Washington Post:

"News industry leaders are forever proclaiming that diversity is an organizational priority. Such pronouncements usually come paired with apologies for having failed on this front in the past, along with vague plans to do better.

"New York Times Chief Executive Mark Thompson defied this tradition yesterday in a presentation before a gathering of managers on the business and news sides of the newspaper. He identified three areas toward which diversity efforts must be channeled: recruitment, hiring and promotion.

“Supervisors who fail to meet upper management's requirements in recruiting and hiring minority candidates or who fail to seek out minority candidates for promotions face some stern consequences: They'll be either encouraged to leave or be fired."

I commented:  "It's illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, and sex in recruiting, hiring, and promotion. Oh, and it's also unfair, divisive, inefficient, and immoral."  And:  "Oh, and remember Jayson Blair?"

Onion or Not? -- Well, yes, it’s an Onion article that’s titled, “College Encourages Lively Exchange Of Idea / Students, Faculty Invited To Freely Express Single Viewpoint.”  But you have to admit that it’s hard to distinguish parodies from straight reporting on the higher ed beat.

Thank You Sperry Much -- Many thanks to Paul Sperry, for his recent New York Post op-ed titled, “You're now a racist if you say schools need to be safer.”  In it, he illuminates the Obama administration’s insane application of a “disparate impact” theory to school discipline. 

If a suspension policy does not consider a student’s race, is adopted with no racial intent, and is applied evenhandedly, then it’s not racial discrimination.  Period.  The “disparate impact” approach ignores this and is wrongheaded in all contexts, including this one.

The fact that a school has more suspensions for members of some racial groups than others is not racial discrimination:  It simply reflects the reality that some demographic have more members at some point in time who present discipline problems.  This, in turn, is because of disparities in culture and out-of-wedlock birthrates — again, not because of discrimination.

Finally, kudos to Mr. Sperry for blowing the whistle on those U.S. Senators who would increase the federal funding for this nonsense! 

The Republican Candidates and “Affirmative Action” – Finally, just a brief scorecard on the three remaining Republican candidates and their respective views on racial preferences.  Despite his anti-p.c. reputation, Donald Trump is on record this campaign as saying that he is “fine with affirmative action,” and he criticized Justice Scalia when the late justice raised the “mismatch” point at oral argument in the Fisher v. University of Texas case.  Likewise, last August, there were a number of news stories in which Ohio governor (and presidential hopeful) John Kasich crowed that the state’s minority contracting goal (read “quota”) had at long last been achieved.   But Ted Cruz said earlier this year in this context that the focus should be on merit, not race.  Just saying.

Trump's 'America First' Movement

Indiana's upcoming primary may well determine the fate of not only the GOP presidential nomination but the party itself. Donald Trump's sweeping victories in the five primaries last Tuesday was a sober wake-up call that the party of Ronald Reagan is no more. If Trump wins a majority in Indiana, as well, it will be nearly impossible to stop him from winning the Republican nomination. Already, major "mainstream" Republicans are jumping on his bandwagon, including two House chairmen this week: Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Jeff Miller of Florida, who chairs the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. But Trump's winning the Republican nomination will doom the party as we've known it for much of the past 40 years.

Trump represents a repudiation of the Republican Party's commitment to smaller government, free trade and an internationalist foreign policy. On the latter, Trump gave his first major policy address this week in Washington. Though it was short on specifics, vacuous and self-contradictory, the overall theme of his speech made clear where his instincts lie. He is first and foremost a nationalist, one who would fit in comfortably with Marine Le Pen's National Front in France, the Danish People's Party or the Freedom Party of Austria -- all populist, anti-immigrant, nationalist movements.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has paid attention to his campaign thus far. His strategy, articulated in every speech from his presidential announcement to his latest rally, has been to appeal to whites who feel left behind economically and overwhelmed culturally and demographically. "Make America Great Again" means keeping foreigners out, reserving American jobs for the American-born, punishing our more "cunning" trading partners -- especially Mexico and China -- building walls and withdrawing from foreign alliances and wars.

This brand of American nationalism is not new. Trump's "America First" slogan is a throwback to the pre-World War II movement against U.S. entry into the war. The America First Committee, whose most famous member was aviator and Adolf Hitler admirer Charles Lindbergh, argued that the United States should build an impregnable defense but stay out of the war in Europe -- a position that was, in the late 1930s, highly popular with the American people. By the time the America First Committee officially formed in September 1940, Nazi Germany had already swallowed Austria, invaded Czechoslovakia, Poland, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and France and launched an air war against Britain.

Most commentators have assumed that Trump's "America First" theme was accidental, that he didn't know its origins. Maybe. He is, after all, the least literate presidential aspirant in recent memory. But it doesn't really matter if he knows what the America First Committee was. Trump's speeches, including the prepared text he read at The National Interest this week, sound eerily similar to, if less articulate than, a speech Lindbergh delivered in New York in April 1941.

Lindbergh claimed, "The America First Committee has been formed to give voice to the people who have no newspaper or newsreel or radio station at their command, to the people who must do the paying and the fighting and the dying if this country enters the war." Lindbergh promised, "There is a policy open to this nation that will lead to success -- a policy that leaves us free to follow our own way of life and to develop our own civilization." He said he spoke for "the citizens who ... had to work too hard at their daily jobs to organize political meetings." He argued: "We must turn our eyes and our faith back to our own country before it is too late. And when we do this, a different vista opens before us."

The America First movement collapsed when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The United States joined the war against the Axis, sent troops, ships and planes to Europe, as well as to the Pacific, and defeated Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito.

The United States emerged from the war as a superpower that would lead the economic and political transformation of much of Western Europe and parts of Asia.

Now Donald Trump wants to channel Charles Lindbergh to build walls around a fortress America, whose civilization he promises to protect from "criminals, drug dealers (and) rapists" from Mexico and elsewhere. This is not a recipe to make America great again but its opposite. And if he succeeds in capturing the Republican nomination, he will turn the GOP into a fringe nationalist movement that will polarize American politics unlike anything we have seen before.

Trade Benefits America

"Trade" has become a dirty word in this year's presidential race, with candidates of both parties bemoaning the American jobs supposedly lost to foreign competition because of our trade policies. Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened a trade war with our most important trading partners, who, he claims, are "killing us." But Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton all fret about the issue and vow to take a harder stance, as well, if elected. Obviously, the message is resonating with the electorate, which makes it more dangerous still. Is there anything that can be done to reverse this sudden anti-free trade frenzy?

Education on the issue is sorely lacking. Most people see trade as a zero-sum game. If China sells us more than we sell China, it results in a trade deficit -- which must be bad, right? If products that used to be produced in the U.S. by American workers are suddenly being built in Mexico by Mexican workers, that's bad for us, isn't it? Try convincing a guy who used to build auto parts in Michigan that he's better off overall because those parts are now being manufactured in Mexico. It's a hard sell. But the fact is that all of us benefit from the availability of products imported from lower-wage countries; we're a lot better off, as it happens.

Trump says he would raise tariffs on Chinese and Mexican goods; he's thrown around the figure 45 percent for China and 35 percent for Mexico. He seems to believe that if he did so, China would stop manipulating its currency and Mexico would crack down on illegal immigration. But think, for a moment, about what raising tariffs on these countries' goods would mean for the average American, even if Trump were successful in making this move unilaterally with no retaliation against American goods from the governments he'd be punishing (a fantasy).

Most people want to pay as little as possible for goods, provided that the goods meet their expectations for quality. Americans buy Chinese-made clothing -- and increasingly clothing from other, cheaper sources, such as Malaysia and Vietnam -- because they see value in paying less, even if the quality isn't quite the same. You don't expect a Chinese-made silk blouse to be the same as an Italian-made silk blouse, but you pay a lot less on average for the former. It's the same with electronic goods, toys, furniture, lighting and a host of other Chinese imports.

The United States is the biggest importer in the world precisely because Americans crave goods that other countries can produce at cheaper prices than we can at home. If we were to invoke tariffs, American consumers would end up paying them in higher prices, not the Chinese or Mexican government, or else doing without the products altogether.

Like your smartphone? If so, you'd better hope that Trump's trade fantasies don't become a reality. Several countries contribute to the making of an iPhone. It begins with engineers in the United States, but many of them are foreign-born. Rare minerals from Mongolia go into chips and other components. The gyroscopes come from Italy and France, and the microchips are manufactured in South Korea and Taiwan. Assembly mostly happens in China. The gadgets aren't cheap, but they would cost a whole lot more if every part had to be manufactured and assembled in the United States.

International trade is so interwoven into modern life that it is difficult to see how we could do what Trump and others promise, namely bring back American jobs. Though it is true we have far fewer manufacturing jobs than we did a generation ago, much of the reason has to do with gains in productivity in the manufacturing sector, not jobs being shipped overseas. Again, those gains, which sometimes put individuals out of work, benefit everyone at the cash register.

A far better way to deal with the downside of international trade is to help retrain workers whose jobs have disappeared. That way, they can learn the skills still in demand in the United States. We already provide relief to workers whose jobs have been adversely affected by trade agreements -- including wage supplements for certain workers, health benefits and training -- but the programs are bureaucratic and depend on individuals to take the initiative to find new fields of employment and secure needed training.

Politicians' exploiting American workers' fears and anxieties about trade is nothing new, but we should not change policies that benefit the great majority of Americans with lower prices, access to more goods and opportunities for American companies to excel at what they do best, innovating and providing leading-edge products that are the envy of the world.

Toilets and the Politics of Gender

The name Curt Schilling wasn't familiar to me before ESPN decided to fire the sports commentator and former Major League Baseball pitcher for making allegedly "transphobic" comments on Facebook. For the record, I believe an employer has the right to restrict an employee's public speech if the employer believes that it reflects badly on the company. The First Amendment restricts only the power of the government to impose certain limits on free speech, and last I checked, ESPN was a private corporation.

That being said, the Schilling incident raises important questions. Are Americans being intimidated into accepting public behavior that many feel threatens them -- namely, allowing biologically male or female individuals to use public bathrooms that are designated for the opposite sex?

Schilling's offense was to comment on a crude, disgusting photograph posted on Facebook showing a supposedly transgender female with this caption: "Let him in! To the restroom with your daughter or else you're a narrow minded, judgmental, unloving, racist bigot who needs to die!!!" In response, Schilling posted, "A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don't care what they are, who they sleep with, men's room was designed for the penis, women's not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic."

The incident only amplifies the furor raised when North Carolina enacted a law restricting public restroom and locker room use to individuals based on their birth sex. The state now faces boycotts by entertainers, sports franchises and state governments.

Let's remember that what is at issue here is public behavior, not private, but behavior that also involves an individual's right to privacy in some of the most intimate acts he or she undertakes.

When I go to the gym, do I have the right to expect that I will only see other female bodies showering and dressing and that only other biological females will see me doing those things? If a man is standing at a public urinal, does he have the right to expect that everyone who enters has the same biology? Isn't there an implicit expectation of privacy in these settings?

At my local YMCA, a sign outside the women's dressing room cautions that boys older than 6 are excluded, and I have never seen an adult male take a female child of any age into the men's dressing room. A family dressing room is available, which presumably offers privacy for those who can't meet the parameters. A similar accommodation could be made for transgender individuals, but the LGBT community has rejected this compromise.

No doubt many Americans' aversion to sharing toilet facilities with people of the opposite sex is cultural. The first time I went to Paris as a young woman, I was astounded when I discovered that men and women shared the same bathroom, albeit with stalls that provided maximum privacy. It was awkward for me as an American woman to stand next to a male stranger while washing my hands after answering nature's call. And most American restrooms aren't set up like unisex European facilities, with only stalls or single toilet rooms and full doors.

It doesn't make anyone a bigot not to want to share bathroom and dressing functions with those who are not of the same sex. The LGBT community insists that "gender" is different from sex and that individuals have the right to choose how they wish to identify in terms of gender. But hormone treatments and plastic surgery do not, in fact, change men into women or women into men.

Transgender individuals should be treated with dignity, as all human beings should. They should be accorded the right to call themselves whatever they wish, and politeness requires that the rest of us should accord them the courtesy of complying. But when their right to self-identification comes up against others' right to privacy, we need to find a resolution that accommodates both interests in the public square.

We can honor the needs of a minority -- a very small one indeed -- without trampling the privacy rights of the great majority. A few unisex bathrooms and private dressing rooms in big institutions would solve the problem without much fuss. But this is not about problem-solving; it's about abandoning nature in favor of the politics of gender.

Some Funny Anti-PC Items

The Washington Post Magazine’s end-page is always a column by humorist Gene Weingarten, who’s very funny but extremely liberal.  His column this week, however, makes fun of Bowdoin College’s political correctness, which I recently wrote about, in the sombrero scandal

Mr. Weingarten’s column is styled a plea for forgiveness and addressed to the Bowdoin student government; he wants forgiveness for his daughter having dressed up as an Indian (complete with feather, horrors!) many years ago. It’s very funny, and if even a big liberal like Gene Weingarten agrees things have gotten out of hand, then maybe there’s hope.

Another funny item is the Stanford Review’s demands for change.  Sample:  “WE DEMAND that Stanford recognizes that half-lives matter, and establishes a committee to fund the Chemistry and Physics Departments accordingly.”  It’s also very funny, and — I hope — also evidence that this shark has been jumped.

Alas, not all Stanford students are as enlightened as those on the Review.  But our friend and frequent ally Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, does a great job here of setting straight that campus’s students wildly indignant about nearly everything.  (Readers of a certain age will get the “s.w.i.n.e.” reference in the preceding sentence; others can look here.)

Better Thinking through Politically Correct “Diversity”? – Not so much, according to a spate of sources last week.  See our friend John Rosenberg (reporting on some recent social-science research on social-science research) here, some other researchers here, Jonathan Haidt’s interview with Tyler Cowen here, and even (sort of) Russell Jacoby here.

Hiring Discrimination at the University of Louisville – There’s an important article in the Spring 2016 issue of Academic Questions, giving chapter and verse on how affirmative action in faculty hiring works at the University of Louisville.  As I’ve noted before, the law is more hostile to such preferential selection in faculty hiring than it is to student admissions — there’s no “diversity” exception to the ban on discrimination, for example — but schools don’t seem to care. 

A Couple of We-Told-You-So’s –  One of my co-contributors at National Review Online is David French, and he noted last week that “The Cost of Radical Police ‘Reform’ Is Blood on Chicago’s Streets.”  And this week (in hard copy) the Washington Post — yes, again the Washington Post — has a story headlined, “Chicago grapples with a staggering rise in homicides amid police shake-up.”  Related to David’s article and the “Ferguson effect” is yet another recent Washington Post article, headlined, “Police are dying by gunfire at over twice last year’s rate.”

And in the run-up to the Supreme Court’s decision last year on whether “disparate impact” lawsuits may be brought under the Fair Housing Act, I warned that, if the Court said yes, then landlords would be pressured to stop excluding tenants based on their criminal records.  Well, the Court went the wrong way, and this week the New York Times has a story about the Obama administration’s expected “guidance” that will indeed limit the use that landlords make of tenants’ criminal records.

A Mixed Civil-Rights Bag in Congress – Just a quick update on recent civil-rights goings-on in Congress. 

The good:   Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), bless his heart, continues to harass the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, this time by requiring it to play by the same rules it wants the companies it regulates to play by.   Also good:  There has been anti-disparate-impact legislation introduced by Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ), and there’s more in the works

The bad:  The House (isn’t that supposedly controlled by the Republicans, by the way?) has passed some bad legislation with gender preferences in it. 

And the ugly:  Some Senators want to give arguably the worst agency in the federal government, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, more money to spend on policing campus sex.

*          *          *

Finally, the New York Times this week published my response to Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s disappointing op-ed:

“Representative Jim Sensenbrenner calls for the passage of his Voting Rights Act of 2015 to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. But no new legislation is needed.

“The Supreme Court struck down only one provision in the Voting Rights Act — which was indeed unconstitutional and was never a permanent part of the act anyway — and there are plenty of other voting rights laws available to ensure that the right to vote is not violated. And notwithstanding Mr. Sensenbrenner’s suggestion to the contrary, those provisions can be used to stop discriminatory voting practices before they affect any election.

“The bill that Mr. Sensenbrenner has drafted is not only unnecessary but also affirmatively bad. For example, it does not protect all races equally from discrimination; it includes dubious expansions of federal power that have nothing to do with the Supreme Court’s decision; and it itself violates the Constitution by prohibiting practices that are not actually racially discriminatory but only have racially disproportionate effects.

“The bill is not really bipartisan. It is intended to give a partisan advantage to the left, which is why nearly all its support comes from those across the aisle from Mr. Sensenbrenner.”

Silliness at the White House Science Fair

The White House had its annual science fair last week, but every week is political correctness week at the White House, so the president warned that we must

work through some of the structural biases that exist in science.  Some of them — a lot of them are unconscious.  But the fact is, is that we’ve got to get more of our young women and minorities into science and technology, engineering and math, and computer science.  I’ve been really pleased to see the number of young women who have gotten more and more involved in our science fairs over the course of these last several years.

And as I said to a group that I had a chance to meet with outside, we’re not going to succeed if we got half the team on the bench, especially when it’s the smarter half of the team.  (Laughter.)  Our diversity is a strength.  And we’ve got to leverage all of our talent in order to make ourselves as creative and solve as many problems as we can.

Now, as I discussed years ago, it’s fine to make sure that no one discounts a STEM career because of his or her race, ethnicity, or sex, and maybe it’s even okay for the president to encourage more students to think about STEM careers if we think that for some reason our country needs that. But all the currently fashionable talk about “structural” and “unconscious” bias is just that — fashionable talk — and what’s more, I conclude, “whether we want to save someone from a missed opportunity for the student’s sake or the country’s or both, the relevance of race, ethnicity, and sex is limited at best. A missed career opportunity is a shame for anyone, and if the country faces a shortfall in profession X, then we shouldn’t care about the color or plumbing of those filling the breach.”

As for the president’s joke about girls being smarter than boys, can you just imagine what would happen if he or anyone else made such a joke at the expense of women?  Why, he’d be pilloried before you could say, “Larry Summers.” 

Can You Say, “Quota”? – There is an article on Inside Higher Ed this week, “Diversifying the Humanities,” that discusses growth in the number of degrees in the humanities awarded to minority students at the undergraduate level, but worries that the growth is “uneven,” since “[m]ost of the gains are attributable to Latino students.”  What’s more, there are “declines — with the exception of philosophy — in the number of doctoral degrees in the humanities awarded to minority students” (emphasis added).

Forgive me for not panicking.  Indeed, I worry less about the bean-count than I worry about the bean-counters.  Here’s my posted response:

Two points. First, whether the identified shortfalls are a problem or not depends on why there is a shortfall. Is it because of discrimination? Is it because of some other lack of opportunity that can or should be addressed? Or is it because of a lack of interest in one field compared to more interest in another?

In all events, these passages [in the article] are disturbing: “These declines could complicate the efforts of colleges that have pledged to make set percentages of their new hires or faculties as a whole come from minority groups.” And “This could create particular problems for departments under pressure to be sure that offerings in literature, history and other fields are taught by diverse professors.” Can you say, “Quota”? Recruiting, hiring, and promoting with an eye on skin color and national origin is illegal.

Harvard vs. Freedom of Association -- That’s how Harvey A. Silverglate and Timothy C. Moore see the latest chapter in the sexual-assaults-on-campus saga, which involves the school’s all-male clubs.  Naomi Schaefer Riley is equally dismissive. 

Dealing with Student Protestors – Over at Inside Higher Ed, there is a piece on “Quelling Racial Tensions,” calling for the application of conflict-resolution principles in campus racial protests.  My posted response:

I have to say that most of this seems to me to be better addressed to the typical protestor than to the typical dean. Similarly, the central point in this piece is that “dealing with racial conflict is a problem of affirming the dignity of the other” — and what dean denies the dignity of the other? And perhaps I missed it, but it’s interesting that IHE has so far failed to cover the way student protestors were handled recently at Ohio State.  The administrator there certainly was respectful, but he made it clear that those who break campus rules will be punished. Period. As Abraham Lincoln told the Lyceum, “There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.”

And, if your time is limited, don’t waste it on reading the IHE article; instead read the post regarding the Ohio State matter, to which I link in my comment above.

Look in the Mirror

Will Republicans learn the right lessons from the debacle that is the Trump candidacy? I am doubtful, because for many, it requires a good, hard look in the mirror. Donald Trump didn't create the masses supporting him, he simply played into their fears and prejudices, which have been nursed for the last decade by conservative talk show hosts, cable news programs, websites, grassroots groups and not a few GOP elected officials.

Like Trump's presidential campaign announcement, it began with immigration. It seems like an eon ago that Trump declared, "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best ... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us [sic]. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

This sweeping denunciation -- not of illegal immigration, mind you, but of Mexicans and the government of Mexico -- would have been enough in normal times to sink most candidates. But the media, including the so-called mainstream media, gave him a pass, and many on the right embraced his supposed candor.

National Review's editor Rich Lowry wrote a column "Sorry, Donald Trump Has a Point," arguing, "For all its crassness, Trump's rant on immigration is closer to reality than the gauzy cliches of the immigration romantics unwilling to acknowledge that there might be an issue welcoming large numbers of high-school dropouts into a 21st-century economy." I responded immediately with my own NRO piece, "Stop Defending Donald Trump." But it took the magazine months to decide that Trump was unhinged and a danger to the conservative movement.

The right has made opposition to immigration -- increasingly legal immigration as well as illegal -- the sine qua non of conservatism for some time now. Conservatives who argue, as I do, that our immigration system needs a dramatic overhaul are routinely denounced as open-borders traitors because we favor making it easier for workers with needed skills to immigrate legally and giving legal status to those illegal immigrants whose labor we depend on -- and who have paid taxes and broken no other laws.

There is certainly room for legitimate debate about immigration policy among conservatives. One can argue for lower immigration levels, more diversity among the immigrant pool, and certainly for better border security in good conscience. But suggesting that immigrants are "taking jobs from Americans" and that they have "high rates of criminality" -- neither of which is true -- feeds into a narrative that was ripe for the extremism that Trump has spouted.

Organizations like the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA pump out mendacious studies purporting to show that all the jobs that have been created in the last decade have gone to immigrants, and that immigrants disproportionally fill our prisons. These, in turn, make headlines on Drudge, fill hours of rant on talk radio, get serious treatment from conservative news outlets and then turn into direct mail fundraisers from grassroots conservative organizations. Is it any wonder then, that when Trump comes along and spews his venom, it comes back to bite conservatives who would never think of talking about the issue in Trump's vulgar, hate-filled rhetoric?

But the problem isn't only immigration. Government itself has become the enemy for many conservatives. Instead of arguments for limited government and smaller bureaucracies, many on the right have begun to sound more like anarchists than Burkean conservatives. Republican elected officials -- even staunchly conservative ones -- get labeled as Republican In Name Only, so that all who serve in public life become immediately suspect. If you can't trust anyone who holds office now, an outsider like Donald Trump has a natural opening.

It is difficult to see an easy way out of the morass that has become the conservative movement. Conservatism has managed to hold together despite the inherent strains among its various elements, in large part because winning elections was considered important enough to minimize differences. Libertarians and economic conservatives might not have embraced social conservatives' agenda, (and vice versa) but they were willing to make peace in order to elect representatives who were at least marginally better than the alternative Democrat. Deficit hawks might have worried that defense conservatives would pile up more debt, but they knew prospects were worse if Democrats were elected. Paleo-cons could sit side-by-side with neo-cons with some uneasiness, but not outright enmity.

No more. These arrangements now look like quaint relics of a genteel past, not the realpolitik of election victory. We conservatives are likely to lose the 2016 election as a result, and, frankly, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Follow the Rules

As a Colorado Republican, I'm not thrilled with the way my state party participates in the presidential nominating process. There is no GOP primary in which I can voice my preference for a presidential nominee, as there was in both Virginia and Maryland, where I lived previously.

I thought about running for delegate to the Republican National Convention so that I could play a real role in picking the nominee. But when I checked out the process, I realized it is long and laborious and key dates conflicted with my travel schedule, so I gave up on that plan.

Am I a "disenfranchised" voter, as Donald Trump suggests? Hardly.

Neither party picks its nominee in a strictly democratic fashion. We don't have a national primary in which voters directly select the nominees of the parties. And even if we did, how exactly would we determine who got on the ballot? Either some winnowing system would have to take place at some stage or elections would become free-for-alls.

Trump has benefited from the current system, earning only about 35 percent of the votes cast so far but 42 percent of the delegates. He may well fall short of the requisite number of delegates needed to secure the nomination in the end, but he has as good a chance -- more of a chance, actually -- than anyone else running to earn them.

While other candidates have had to devote time, money and energy into introducing themselves to voters and organizing delegates, Trump has been able to get billions of dollars in free exposure from a fawning media hoping to boost ratings. Now he's whining that the system is rigged against him.

Really? The rules for selecting delegates have been set for months. Trump claims to be the master of detail -- so what happened? I managed to find the necessary information on Colorado's system back in February. I Googled it, found where my precinct's caucus was taking place and realized I'd be out of town -- but urged my husband to attend, even if I couldn't. So Trump, who claims to be a brilliant manager, couldn't manage to get his delegates to run and win at local and county caucuses and, ultimately, at the Colorado state convention and now cries foul?

I don't know what's worse, Trump the megalomaniac or Trump the crybaby.

One of the reasons the parties have in place a lengthy, complicated system for selecting nominees is that it tests their mettle. We don't live in a direct democracy; we are a republic. We choose others to represent us at every stage of the political process. It isn't about accumulating the most raw votes; it's about understanding and working the complicated system each step of the way. Trump isn't trying out for "American Idol"; he's supposed to be auditioning for commander in chief.

Trump has been able to rely on his celebrity status to draw large crowds at his events for months. He's been able to turn those supporters into voters in states that have held primaries, and he's done especially well in states with late or same-day registration and open primaries, in which party affiliation doesn't bar his Democratic and independent supporters from casting Republican ballots. What he hasn't done well is establish grass-roots political operations in caucus states or in primaries in which only Republicans can vote.

Trump hasn't even been able to organize his own family to vote for him in New York's upcoming primary. His daughter Ivanka, who has been a high-profile part of his campaign from nearly day one, didn't change her registration as an independent voter in time to be able to cast her vote Tuesday for her father.

And Trump's son Eric apparently wasn't registered at all, yet he's out there telling others to vote for his dad. Any other candidate would be embarrassed by this negligence, but Trump blames New York's GOP for setting rules that don't allow last-minute registration or party crashing.

Grousing about the system has taken Trump about as far as he can go. But it won't get him to the White House. It's fashionable to complain about career politicians these days, but a little professionalism is necessary in politics. Picking a president shouldn't be a beauty or popularity contest. We expect candidates to learn the rules and play by them. If a candidate can't bother to do so, why should we believe he'd follow the rule book of the Constitution once in office?

Renaming Campus Buildings?

Maryland's Stadium was recently renamed.I wrote at little about his earlier, but I’d like to add a couple of other thoughts regarding campus demands to rename buildings, statues, and the like commemorating individuals whose views on minorities and women have not stood well the test of time. 

First, as I noted before, since none of us is without sin, requiring sinlessness for commemoration means no one will be commemorated.  Yet even those who were terrible sinners in one area might be visionaries in another.  So a Woodrow Wilson Civil Rights Center might be a bad idea, but not a Woodrow Wilson Center for Loopy Progressivism.  Note, by the way, that the Left seems happy to name things after people who are actually convicted criminals, so long as the person is their convicted criminal:  Consider the recent proposals to honor former D.C. mayor Marion Barry. 

Second, one suspects, alas, that denigrating the Nation’s (and the West’s) founders — and thus the Nation (and the West) itself — is part of the long-term game here. If anyone who ever owned a slave or profited in any way from the slave trade or thought that a woman’s place is in the home is to be consigned to the memory hole, well, that’s it for a lot of our big names, isn’t it? 

Nor do I doubt that there’s a powerful subtext here:  “You should feel bad about yourself and your country because people of your color did bad things once upon a time to people of another color.”  The idea is to intimidate and to shut people up, the better to advance the Left’s agenda. But this backward-looking message is not good for race relations, being all about blame, envy, and resentment, about feeding guilt and refusing to forgive.

Nor is a backward-looking focus a helpful one for young African Americans in particular. The following analogy might be apt. Suppose that an ante bellum Southerner criticized Yankees for having bad manners. He might well have been right. But, in hindsight, we would all agree that, bad manners or not, the Yankees (or, more precisely, the abolitionists) were right about slavery, and to focus on bad manners at a time when that abhorrent institution was alive and well showed, to put it charitably, a lack of perspective.   

Or, to give a funnier example, recall the scene in the original movie version of Mel Brooks’s The Producers, where the Nazi playwright is bemoaning the fact that Churchill is more fondly remembered than Hitler, notwithstanding the fact that Hitler was a better dresser, a better dancer, and a better joke-teller. Well, maybe, but still ….

In 2016, for the Left to be focused on renaming buildings and removing statues — when 71 percent of African Americans are being born out of wedlock, and that is the real obstacle to black progress — shows a similar lack of perspective. To live well and prosper, the focus must be on seizing opportunities in the present and preparing for the future, not obsessing over wrongs in the past.

Emory Protestors Admit “Mismatch” Problem – As Harvey Klehr says in his good discussion of the recent pro–Donald Trump sidewalk chalkings at Emory University:

Citing the fact that “not all Black students are adequately prepared for the rigor of Emory University” and that a number are “unprepared for the academic rigor of Emory’s pre-professional academic track,” the students demanded special tutoring programs and facilities for minority students. Instead of asking whether Emory’s affirmative action policies on admission and financial aid were leading to the admission of students who struggled to succeed in a very competitive environment, the administration responded by pledging to create task forces and hold conversations to address the demands.

Tragedy:Farce :: 1968:2016 – I’m starting to read comparisons of 2016 to 1968, given the sorry state of the world in general and American politics in particular. But I must say that, if this is an example of history repeating itself, perhaps it’s also an example of the first time being tragedy and the second time being farce. 

Consider, for example, race relations. In 1968 the Justice Department was putting an end to Jim Crow, but in 2016 the feds are telling us that the problem is overaggressive traffic ticketing. On the world stage, ISIS is surely a threat to the United States, but compared to the Soviet Union?  Plus, there’s no draft and no hippies. 

And consider our politicians. Can Donald Trump match George Wallace’s credentials in the bigotry department? He cannot. Is Ted Cruz as tricky as Dick Nixon? Don’t be silly. Is Hillary Clinton scarier than Hubert Humphrey? Okay, I’ll give you that one.

Flint, Race, and the New York TimesLast week there was a front-page, above-the-fold headline (hard copy) in the New York Times:  “Report on Flint Cites ‘Injustice’: Race Is Said to Play a Role in Inaction.”  And it’s true that the Flint Water Advisory Task Force report that is the subject of the article makes that claim (see pages 54-55).  But no evidence is cited in the report for the proposition that race played a role in any of the lamentable actions or inactions involved — none.  The closest it comes is a footnote to a Huffington Post (!) article, but that article also contains no such evidence.  The reasoning is that something bad happened here, and the people involved were black, and so therefore what happened must have happened because the people involved were black.  To deny this is, I suspect, likewise proof of racism.

Addendum:  The next day, an editorial in the Times (“The Racism at the Heart of Flint’s Crisis”) repeated and sharpened the charge, but naturally also failed to produce any evidence.