New on NewsReal – Latest Indicator of Racism: Questioning Obama’s Intellect

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As the White House deals a devastating blow to one Obama conspiracy theory, leave it to leftists to dig up another one to browbeat allegedly-bigoted conservatives with. At the Daily Beast, pseudo-feminist Michelle Goldberg “traces the far-right history of the claim” that something funny’s going on with Barack Obama’s academic background:

Claims about Obama’s educational history date back to September 2008, when The Wall Street Journal attacked him for not releasing his school records, writing in an editorial, “Some think his transcript, if released, would reveal Mr. Obama as a mediocre student who benefited from racial preference.” Since then, Orly Taitz, queen of the birthers, has developed elaborate theories about Obama’s college years. As Taitz argues, Obama himself acknowledged that he was directionless when he started college. How, then, did he get himself accepted into the Ivy League?

Despite purporting to refute the right-wing “fever swamps,” Goldberg won’t actually reference the WSJ piece again, so it’s worth mentioning that it makes substantive points, among them that the ambiguity of Obama’s college days doesn’t square with the prominence of his personal story in his claim to fame. And as Andy McCarthy points out, Obama has a habit of modifying details of his biography for different audiences. (Ace has more solid analysis of Obama’s college days here.)

But not a peep about any of this from Goldberg. Instead of addressing what serious Obama critics have said, she spends the next couple paragraphs shooting down the theories of Orly Taitz, an especially destructive Birther attorney, who speculates that Obama attended Columbia as a foreign exchange student, attended for a mere nine months instead of two years, and even that he got into Harvard Law thanks to the machinations of a Saudi prince.

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New on NewsReal – Barack Obama Is Too Much Like Jimmy Carter, Says…Eric Alterman?

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Conservatives frequently make unfavorable comparisons between Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, but it’s a rarer occurrence to see leftists do the same. So when a lefty zealot like Eric Alterman does precisely that in his latest Daily Beast article, it’s bound to raise eyebrows, though it shouldn’t—where The One reminds right-wingers of Carter through his international and economic ineptness, Alterman sees Obama aping some very different traits from his predecessor:

The gregarious Massachusetts pol, House Speaker Tip O’Neil, could hardly have been more eager to work with a Democratic president after eight years of Nixon and Ford. But when they first met, and O’Neil attempted to advise Carter about which members of Congress might need some special pleading, or even the assorted political favor or two with regard to certain issues, to O’Neil’s open-jawed amazement, Carter replied, “No, I’ll describe the problem in a rational way to the American people. I’m sure they’ll realize I’m right.” The red-nosed Irishman later said he “could have slugged” Carter over this lethal combination of arrogance and naivety, but it would soon become Carter’s calling card.

Alterman doesn’t know just how right he is. The Left can never entertain the possibility that they might be wrong on questions of fundamental principle. Progressive ideology holds itself to be the culmination of man’s intellectual and moral development thus far, enlightenment from which there could be no fundamentally different deviation. John F. Kennedy said the days of “grand warfare of rival ideologies” were behind us, replaced with “more basic discussion” of “technical questions.” If someone rejects the key tenets of the progressive agenda, it must be because he either doesn’t yet understand it properly, or is blinded by his personal biases or interests. Someone simply can’t be enlightened and well-informed, and still reject leftist policies.

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New on NewsReal – Academic Bigotry: Leftist Professor Drops an F-Bomb on College Republicans

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The University of Iowa College Republicans’ Conservative Coming Out Week has a simple message—conservatives are people too, they aren’t alone, and they don’t need to fear discrimination on college campuses like liberal Iowa City. Leave it to faculty left-wingers, then, to demonstrate why conservative students need a little encouragement.

The Iowa Republican reports that Ellen Lewin, UI professor of—what else?—“Anthropology and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies,” didn’t take kindly to the CR’s campus-wide email announcing the event:

Lewin responded to email by writing, “#*@% [F-Word] YOU, REPUBLICANS” from her official university email account.


Natalie Ginty, a University of Iowa Student and Chairwoman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans, demanded an apology from Lewin’s supervisors.  “We understand that as a faculty member she has the right to express her political opinion, but by leaving her credentials at the bottom of the email she was representing the University of Iowa, not herself alone,” Ginty wrote to James Enloe, the head of the Department of Anthropology.

“Vile responses like Ellen’s need to end. Demonizing the other party through name-calling only further entrenches feelings of disdain for the other side. I am sure you understand that nothing is ever accomplished by aimless screams of attack,” Ginty concluded.

In an email to the College Republicans, Professor Lewin wrote, “This is a time when political passions are inflamed, and when I received your unsolicited email, I had just finished reading some newspaper accounts of fresh outrages committed by Republicans in government.  I admit the language was inappropriate, and apologize for any affront to anyone’s delicate sensibilities.  I would really appreciate your not sending blanket emails to everyone on campus, especially in these difficult times.”

Lewin followed up on Tuesday with this gem:

I should note that several things in the original message were extremely offensive, nearly rising to the level of obscenity.  Despite the Republicans’ general disdain for LGBT rights you called your upcoming event “conservative coming out day,” appropriating the language of the LGBT right movement.   Your reference to the Wisconsin protests suggested that they were frivolous attempts to avoid work.  And the “Animal Rights BBQ” is extremely insensitive to those who consider animal rights an important cause.  Then, in the email that Ms. Ginty sent complaining about my language, she referred to me as Ellen, not Professor Lewin, which is the correct way for a student to address a faculty member, or indeed, for anyone to refer to an adult with whom they are not acquainted.  I do apologize for my intemperate language, but the message you all sent out was extremely disturbing and offensive.

And, of course, UI President Sally Mason weighed in with a pitifully noncommittal statement about celebrating diversity and respecting differing viewpoints…without naming anyone who may have failed to display that respect. Let’s hear it for leadership.

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New on NewsReal – What Donald Trump’s Popularity Means for the Rest of the 2012 Field

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Before I sat down to write this article, I pinched myself just to make sure I was awake and today’s subject wasn’t some weird dream. But alas, talking heads on both sides of the political spectrum really are seriously entertaining the possibility of President Donald Trump.

At the Daily Beast, Jim DeFede reports on why several Florida Tea Partiers have said they’re backing the Donald:

“We need a real businessman,” said Linda Kogelman, 63, a retired postal worker. “The lawyers don’t know how to run the country. They bow down to too many people.” Kogelman said no one else in the Republican field excites her.

“There is no one there,” she continued. “Romney is old hat. Newt is old hat. It’s just the same old same old. We need new blood.”

Her husband, Ken, 64, who closed his crane business in 2009 because of the downturn in the economy, nodded in agreement.

“They’ve destroyed this country,” he spit. Who?

“The Democrats.”

Standing nearby, 78-year-old Richard Walters was holding on to a letter he had written. He was hoping to be able to hand it to Trump.

“I used to be the Rolls Royce dealer in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach,” said Walters, who is now retired. “And he was one of my customers.”

Fond memories of The Donald?

“I didn’t like him,” Walters said. “He was an arrogant bastard. But I love him now. He is the only person in this country who can right the ship.”

Lest you think DeFede has cherry-picked some outliers to exaggerate Trump’s popularity, note that The Donald has some formidable poll numbers in the Republican primary field (he fares worse, however, in general election match-ups). Among the conservative punditocracy, the reaction is more mixed—Sean Hannity has been giving Trump substantial interview time, while Mark Levin has been intensely critical, and with good reason—Trump has flip-flopped on abortion, healthcare, and his party affiliation, used to be far more favorable to Barack Obama (calling George W. Bush “evil” in the process), and has donated substantially to Democrats.

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New on NewsReal – Boston Professor Hails Obama for Declaring War on Deficits. Wait, What?

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To love your country is to hate red ink.

Sounds like a Tea Party slogan, doesn’t it? This concise declaration of fiscal responsibility would look at home on many a conservative bumper or amid a sea of protest signs, but incredibly, it was uttered by Boston University history professor Andrew Bacevich as—I kid you not—a glowing endorsement of President Barack Obama’s April 13 speech on the federal budget. On the Daily Beast, Bacevich declares that the 44th president has “expanded the operative definition of patriotism to encompass belief in balanced budgets”:

This is surely a good thing. So too is the president’s willingness to finger the essence of the problem: a widespread desire for an endless free lunch—people coveting government benefits without a willingness to pay for them.

Obama also performed a useful service in pointing out that any serious effort at deficit reduction will have to target the Big Four: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security.

Regarding that last category, the president promises to reassess not only military missions and capabilities, but also America’s role in the world. In our post-unipolar moment, such a reassessment is long overdue. Yet to have more than cosmetic results, Obama will have to take on some very sacred cows and some very powerful interests.

I defy you to find a more surreal reaction to Obama’s remarks. We’ve previously discussed how Diamond Barry’s proposed budgets have been so bloated they call for new taxes by the trillions to sustain them. The president might have said on Wednesday that he wants to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next twelve years, but as Mark Knoller of noted right-wing mouthpiece CBS News reports:

Budget totals issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in February project 10 years of deficits totaling $7.2 trillion between 2012 and 2021. Another two years at that rate would bring the 12 year total to $8.6 trillion.

The Obama 12-year plan would cut the projected deficit total in half, but would leave another $4 trillion in deficits that would be added to the National Debt, which now stands at $14.27 trillion.

Separately, OMB expects the Debt to double over the next ten years to a mind-boggling total of $26.3-trillion in 2021. It’s estimated the Debt that year would cost U.S. taxpayers $928-billion in interest payments. Four trillion dollars in deficit reduction would reduce the Debt to just over $22-trillion, and still inflict $700-billion in interest on the federal budget.

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New on NewsReal – Why Do College Conservatives Seem to Be Lagging Behind the Paulestinian Fringe?

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We can’t expect to defeat the Left if we don’t take the time to reflect on the state of the Right. One of conservatism’s biggest inter-movement issues, the race between mainstream conservatives and the radical paleo-libertarian alliance represented by Ron Paul, recently caught the attention of Keith William Neely, a Vanderbilt University student who wrote a Huffington Post article identifying the “Radical Right” as the “real threat to conservatives on college campuses.”

Don’t let that headline fool you; it may sound like the start of another by-the-numbers HuffPo hit piece, but Neely’s piece is really a substantive take on a serious problem facing the Right:

Radical organizations on the right, in hopes of garnering more attention for their ideas, have resorted to increasingly provocative tactics to spread their message on America’s college campuses. And to some degree, it’s been effective. Polling at the latest CPAC suggests that nearly half of its attendees were between the ages of 18 and 25, temporarily dispelling the old political adage that a conservative at 25 has no heart and a liberal at 35 no brain […]

At Vanderbilt for example, a local chapter of the radical libertarian organization Young Americans for Liberty has found limited success in putting on large events like the one on March 26th, where they prominently displayed the ‘National Debt Clock’ alongside photocopied images of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to illustrate the need for disbanding the Federal Reserve. At public events, they wear Guy Fawkes masks to advertise their presence, and have even been known to target conservatives with their extremist ire. At the recent IMPACT Symposium, members of the organization passed out leaflets pejoratively branding both Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty and Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol as ‘neo-cons’.

Remember YAL? I had a run-in with them last year, in which YAL writer Wesley Messamore wrote a crappy rebuttal to one of my Ron Paul takedowns and couldn’t defend it, so he instead demanded a video debate and declared victory when I said I wasn’t interested. YAL also shills for anti-American cyber anarchist Julian Assange, dislikes copyright laws, and writes insipid, self-worshipping poetry, so I’m glad to see someone else calling out these pretenders to the conservative mantle. Neely’s examples are hit and miss, though—I’ve also noticed the Paulestinians’ creepy interest in Guy Fawkes imagery, but opposing the Federal Reserve, however misguided they may be (an issue I readily admit I haven’t studied enough to pontificate on) doesn’t strike me as manifestly insane.

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New on NewsReal – Has the Ayn Rand "Cult" Brainwashed the Tea Party?

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Leftist Rule for Engaging Conservative Ideas #1: conservatives’ motives are never what they claim. It must be rigorously asserted that right-wingers are invariably driven by impulses more sinister than making people better off or trying to find solutions to the problems we face. New Republic senior editor Jonathan Chait knows that lesson by heart—on the Daily Beast, he argues that from the lowliest Tea Partier all the way up to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Right is animated by a view of “the poor as parasites” and “the rich as our rightful rulers,” a dogma we’ve picked up from philosopher Ayn Rand:

Ayn Rand, of course, was a kind of politicized L. Ron Hubbard—a novelist-philosopher who inspired a cult of acolytes who deem her the greatest human being who ever lived. The enduring heart of Rand’s totalistic philosophy was Marxism flipped upside down. Rand viewed the capitalists, not the workers, as the producers of all wealth, and the workers, not the capitalists, as useless parasites.

John Galt, the protagonist of her iconic novel Atlas Shrugged, expressed Rand’s inverted Marxism: “The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains.”

In 2009 Rand began popping up all over the Tea Party movement. Sales of her books skyrocketed, and signs quoting her ideas appeared constantly at rallies. Conservatives asserted that the events of the Obama administration eerily paralleled the plot of Atlas Shrugged, in which a liberal government precipitates economic collapse.

To be sure, Rand’s ultra-capitalist works have enjoyed a surge in popularity recently, a predicable response to our leaders overreaching in the opposite direction. But it’s not quite true to suggest Rand is universally embraced on the Right; for instance, consider National Review’s March 2009 symposium on Rand, which on the whole takes a dim view of the author (in fairness, she’s much more popular at Big Hollywood).

I haven’t read her, and have no strong opinions about her philosophy either way, but I can certainly tell when mainstream conservative thought is subjected to class-warfare caricatures:

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New on NewsReal – Miraculous GOP Turnaround Causes Michael Moore to Drop the Act and Ask Obama to Disenfranchise Wisconsin

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In a stunning development, a clerical error in Wisconsin has transformed what many expected to be a long, ugly legal battle favoring the Left into an almost certain victory for the Right, outraging leftists like Michael Moore, to the point where the radical “documentarian” has stopped bothering to hide his disdain for the democratic process.

The intense Wisconsin Supreme Court race between the incumbent Republican, Justice David Prosser, and his Democrat challenger, state DNR enforcer JoAnn Kloppenburg, ended Wednesday with the latter declaring victory based on the Associated Press’s calculation of a 204-vote lead. Prosser didn’t budge, and most predicted an onslaught of recounts and vote fraud litigation to ensue.

But on Thursday evening we learned that Waukesha county clerk Kathy Nickolaus had erroneously passed on the county’s data to the AP without the numbers from the city of Brookfield, which shifted the lead to Prosser by more than 7,000 votes. Leftists are predictably outraged that hijacking the judiciary to thwart Governor Scott Walker’s public-sector union reforms won’t work after all, though none have topped the overreaction of Moore, who tweeted last night:

Republicans created the rule: “Whoever declares victory first, wins!” When will Obama Justice Dept impound ballots and stop the shenanigans?

Much has been said about the totalitarian impulse and anti-constitutionalism behind modern leftism, but rarely is it expressed so overtly by one of their own. Moore wants the federal government to forcibly prevent the certification of a state election and give the office to someone based strictly on her own, premature and entirely unofficial, declaration of victory?

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New on NewsReal – Three Guesses Who Andrea Mitchell Thinks the Ryan Budget Will Hurt the Most

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Unfounded accusations of racism over political disputes usually anger me like few other things can, but lately I find myself reacting to them more with yawns than scowls. It’s the law of diminishing returns in action—overdo something, and it ceases to be effective.

Alas, Andrea Mitchell still hasn’t gotten the memo. NewsBusters’ Alex Fitzsimmons reports that the MSNBC host and her Democrat guest see the specter of bigotry behind Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) 2012 budget proposal:

“Representative Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget, released today, includes reforms, what they call reforms, and also big cuts in housing assistance, job training, and food stamps,” warned Mitchell. “All of which would have a very big impact on particularly poor and minority communities, some say.” Mitchell was mum as Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) bandied ludicrous assertions about the 2012 Republican budget, which would slash spending by nearly $6 trillion over 10 years mostly by reforming unsustainable health care entitlement programs.

“It’s clearly a nervous breakdown on paper and it will do enormous damage, I think, to the vulnerable populations of this country,” predicted the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, who added that the House Budget Chairman’s proposed cuts to non-defense discretionary spending would “devastate the poor,” particularly in America’s racial minority groups.

Citing a concise Jennifer Rubin piece, Fitzsimmons points out that the Ryan plan’s welfare reductions are modest by historical standards, and that it in fact merely “pare[s] back such programs to 2008 levels.” If anything, it sounds like the Ryan plan can be best described as a welcome opening act, but not enough to escape the hole we’ve dug for ourselves. CATO’s Michael Tanner writes that it “cuts spending by $6.2 trillion over the next ten years” yet “still adds $6 trillion to the national debt.”

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New on NewsReal – The Obama Presidency in Review, and a Preview of Hope and Change 2012

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To nobody’s surprise, President Barack Obama has formally announced that he will seek reelection with a video that’s clearly geared toward motivating fans rather than attracting newcomers, as it’s decidedly light on reasons why the incumbent Democrat should be given four more years in the White House.

Fortunately, Newsweek White House correspondent Daniel Stone gets a bit more specific on the Daily Beast, laying out the case he expects Team Obama to make. Let’s take a look at his points, as well as the flip side.

Last week’s economic report showed an unemployment rate continuing to fall—incredibly slowly. It’s not good enough, but it still is progress, Obama will say. Defending the actions the administration took—especially the $987 billion Recovery Act—will fall to Joe “the stimulus sheriff” Biden, who will be fortified by a team of crack researchers preparing colorful graphs showing lines with positive slopes. Obama the president had trouble arguing the hypothetical that “we’d be worse off if I did nothing,” but Obama the candidate might have better luck. Any Republican will publicly doubt him, but would only be able to offer the same hypothetical that he or she would have done any better.

On the other hand, Obama’s going to have to explain the fact that he explicitly claimed his stimulus plan was needed because it would prevent unemployment rising to 8%, we passed it…and unemployment rose past 8% anyway. He’ll have to answer for record job losses. And while the latest economic news is encouraging, it’s tentative—labor force participation is still low, and Obama is unlikely to support one policy that could accelerate recovery further still:

The United States has stood alone while the rest of the developed world has moved forward with a pro-growth strategy of slashing corporate tax rates. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that its 30-nation membership cut corporate tax rates an average of 7.1 percentage points in the past decade, and the United States will have a federal corporate tax rate one-third higher than the OECD average of 25.7 percent.[2] When Japan’s corporate tax rate is lowered, the United States is one of three nations that will not have reduced the rate.

Corporate taxes are considered the most inefficient of all tax systems. They increase the cost of capital and slow economic growth. Nearly every economist believes that that tax burden falls on individuals, namely the workers and shareholders of the company. A more efficient corporate tax system would increase economic growth and boost the labor market.[3]

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