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Trump's Incredibly Shrinking America

Donald Trump may have a reputation for making things bigger, but when it comes to his plans for the U.S., he wants to shrink it. He says his tax plan will spur economic growth to 6 percent a year -- a level not seen in more than a decade. But it's hard to imagine how he will do so given his signature issue, which is reducing immigration.

He has announced that he will remove 11.3 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S., and he hopes they will take along their American-born children who are minors. He also says he'll stop admitting new legal immigrants and some temporary workers until every unemployed person living here now has a job, which would reduce the population by another million persons each year. He also announced this week that he will kick out any Syrian refugees admitted by the Obama administration in response to the international refugee crisis.

The effect of this reduction in U.S. population would be to reduce GDP by at least $1.6 trillion and to reduce the labor force by more than 11 million workers, according to a study by the conservative American Action Foundation (AAF). The result would be a massive contraction in the economy that would make the Great Recession we've just experienced look mild in comparison. And, of course, the plan to remove undocumented immigrants would come with a heavy price tag: AAF estimated $400 billion to $600 billion.

How exactly a President Trump would pay for his plan, he never tells us. Maybe he'll "make Mexico pay" for it, just as he promises he'll make Mexico pay for a 1,400-mile wall across its border. But the truth is, Americans would pay -- big time -- in lost jobs and higher prices.

The 11 million illegal immigrants Trump wants to remove own or rent homes, buy cars, food, clothing, TVs and other consumer goods, eat out at restaurants, buy services, and contribute in myriad ways to the economies of the communities in which they live. If they were to disappear, those local economies would feel the impact. Housing vacancies would increase, dealing a major blow to an industry that suffered more than any other during the last recession. Local businesses would have fewer customers, forcing some to close. And prices for many goods, especially food and some services, would increase, hitting all Americans in the pocketbook.

But perhaps even more devastating, Trump's plan to halt legal immigration, what restrictionists like to call euphemistically a "pause" in immigration, would deprive America of the human capital needed for our country to grow and prosper. It is no accident that some of our most innovative entrepreneurs were either immigrants or the children of immigrants: Google co-founder Sergey Brin was born in Russia; Apple's Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian foreign student. Immigrants or their children founded more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies, according to a study by the Partnership for the New American Economy. More than 30 percent of all U.S. Nobel laureates were foreign-born, going back to 1906, and immigrants submit about 25 percent of all patent applications yearly.

But even if we didn't need immigrants to build new companies or to innovate, America's aging population needs them to help support our safety net for the elderly. Even illegal immigrants are helping to keep the Social Security system afloat, contributing $12 billion a year in cash flow to Social Security, which they will never receive back in benefits. Between 1996 and 2011, immigrants overall also contributed $182 billion more to the Medicare Hospital Trust Fund than they receive in benefits -- while the native-born are a drain on the program.

Trump claims to be a smart fellow who knows a lot about money. But if he is elected president, his immigration proposals will tank the U.S. economy. Making America Great Again can't be accomplished by shrinking our population.

Good and Bad from Republicans

“We should not have a multicultural society.”   So says Jeb Bush, and of course he’s right. Kudos to him for saying so, and let’s hope the other candidates quickly agree. 

We don’t all have to eat the same foods, and we should be a welcoming nation, but there is some common glue needed to keep our multiracial, multiethnic society together. Here’s my top-ten list of what we should expect from those who want to become Americans (and those who are already Americans, for that matter). The list was first published in a National Review Online column, and it is fleshed out here in this congressional testimony.

1. Don’t disparage anyone else’s race or ethnicity.
2. Respect women.
3. Learn to speak English.
4. Be polite.
5. Don’t break the law.
6. Don’t have children out of wedlock.
7. Don’t demand anything because of your race or ethnicity.
8. Don’t view working and studying hard as “acting white.”
9. Don’t hold historical grudges.
10. Be proud of being an American.

Likewise, I want to share with you an excellent post on an exchange of letters between former President Eisenhower and then-gubernatorial-candidate Ronald Reagan on the subject of hyphenated Americans and identity politics.  The post concludes: 
It would be wonderful to hear either a Republican presidential candidate at the Reagan Library [site of the most recent debate], or a Democratic presidential candidate at another event, present the arguments of Eisenhower and Reagan, or paraphrase the language of George Washington in his Farewell Address when he told his fellow countrymen that — before any other political identity — they should consider themselves first and foremost as Americans.

In this regard,  Ben Carson has some intelligent things to say about affirmative action. Donald Trump, not so much (as noted earlier in a previous email). Here, by the way, is an earlier discussion of what candidates ought to say when this subject comes up.  The bottom line, of course, is that Americans should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

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Speaking of politicians:  The civil-rights Left is very excited that Senator Lisa Murkowski has become the first Republican to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act, the second bill that has been introduced to resurrect Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which was effectively struck down by the Supreme Court two years ago.

When the bill was first being introduced, I noted that it was even more extreme than an earlier bill, which was going nowhere. Indeed, according to the maps in this Nation article when the bill was first proposed, a number of states that weren’t covered under Section 5 before will be covered now — and only one that was covered before that won’t be now. And guess which one state that would be? Well, what do you know, the answer is Senator Murkowski’s home state, Alaska.  (The provisions in this particular bill also give Sen. Murkowski a good way to pander to the Native Alaskan population.)

In any event, no new legislation is needed. The Supreme Court struck down only one provision in the Voting Rights Act — which was indeed unconstitutional, and which 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. What’s more, the bills that have been drafted are bad legislation. For example, they contain much that has nothing to do with the Supreme Court’s decision, and they themselves violate the Constitution by prohibiting practices that are not actually racially discriminatory but only have racially disproportionate effects.  

As noted, the bill that Senator Murkowski has endorsed is even more extreme that an earlier bill that was introduced and had gone nowhere. The new bill would not, for example, exempt voter ID, and it would cover more jurisdictions than the earlier bill — indeed, more jurisdictions than the original Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. So we are to believe that there are more racist jurisdictions in 2015 than there were in 1965 — comprising half the country’s population. 

It’s hard to believe that the bill’s sponsors expect it to be taken seriously. More likely it is a bone being tossed to the more extreme parts of their base, who thought the earlier bill — though bad in the extreme — was not bad enough. Too bad that Senator Murkowski has signed on to it.

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Speaking of extreme:  Ta-Nehisi Coates has another very long essay in The Atlantic, this one titled, “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration.” He doesn’t really dispute that strong family structure is important; he just says that it’s not important enough to counteract all the institutionalized racism that African Americans face (like housing segregation, the focus of his reparations essay). 

As for crime, he views any crime-fighting that has a disparate impact on the basis of race as presumptively racist, and he concludes with a strong hint that reparations may therefore be in order (the new essay’s last link is to his earlier long essay on that topic). But there are plenty of non-racist reasons for being against crime, and, Coates’s cherry-picking to the contrary notwithstanding, there is plenty of evidence that those opposing crime have generally done so for those non-racist reasons. Finally, reparations would not be a logical response to any racism in our criminal-justice system, since (1) most African Americans have not been in the criminal-justice system, and (2) most who have been cannot blame racism.


So now Donald Trump will support the eventual Republican presidential nominee if he doesn't secure the spot himself. He has said all along that in order to do so he must be treated with "respect." A reasonable request -- but one he eschews when it comes to how he treats others.

I have to admit I do not fully understand the Trump phenomenon. I spend a lot of time in GOP circles -- not in Washington, but around the country at small gatherings of party activists, mostly in the West. The attendees tend to be older, and overwhelmingly white, though there are usually one or two blacks, Asians or Hispanics at the gatherings, and the attendees talk a lot about what they can do to attract younger and minority members. Most are small-business people or retired, and many of them are women who have raised their families and now devote substantial time to volunteer activities with their churches, civic groups and the GOP. They are polite, well informed and friendly -- but they are mad as heck about what has happened over the last seven years.

Bringing up Trump's name elicits one of two diametrically different responses: horror or admiration. Those who respond with the former tend to be the most business savvy. They have run their own companies or worked in large organizations. They understand the economy and how government operates and most of them consider Trump a showman whose product is Donald Trump. They also know that he's a political chameleon and that he insults groups the party must appeal to if it is to win the White House: women, Hispanics and Asians.

Those who admire Trump, on the surface at least, don't seem all that different from those who abhor him. The difference is they are angrier, and many of them seem to want to blame immigrants for everything that has gone wrong lately. Trump feeds right into this. They remember how they used to mow lawns, work construction or pick peaches in the summer when they were in school; now their grandkids don't, as one woman told me, "because an 'illegal' comes in and will work for less." They feel like they have been pushed aside. They worry about crime. They don't like the cultural changes that have taken place, from gay marriage to "push '1' for English" at the ATM (or even the ATM itself for that matter; they'd rather speak to a person).

I've encountered only one or two Trump supporters who are belligerent or rude -- but when I ask his supporters whether his style doesn't offend them, the answer is always, "He says what others are afraid to." Which brings me back to the issue of respect. How can a man whose stock and trade is insults expect others to treat him with respect?

The list of Trump's insults since he began his quest for the nomination would take up far more space than I am allotted for this column. Utter a criticism of Trump and he'll shoot back with a gratuitous attack on your intelligence, character or looks, and possibly all three. And in the process he will tell you how smart he is, how successful, how rich and how good-looking. Most analysts attribute this to Trump's outsized ego, but I think it is something else. There is something deeply insecure about Donald Trump, and what he preys on in his appeals to voters is their own insecurity.

Donald Trump isn't an optimist trying to lead us to a better future. He feeds on bitterness and fears about how others have made us weak and vulnerable. He doesn't offer solutions so much as blame. He builds himself up only by tearing others down.

Real winners don't have to do that. They demonstrate their intelligence by coming up with thoughtful things to say, by relying on evidence not assertions, by showing breadth of knowledge rather than repeating the same mantra about being a tough dealmaker no matter what the question. They don't have to talk about others as "weak," "stupid" or "losers." They describe how they might tackle a problem with enough specificity to be credible. If they criticize their opponents, they do it by focusing on their opponents' records and then offering a different approach.

If Donald Trump wants respect, he needs to show some as well. Americans don't like bullies. And we're used to succeeding by working harder, not by pointing fingers at others.

Handicapping the Candidates

If anyone was in doubt that presidential politics is an endurance test, Wednesday's GOP debate surely proved it. For three excruciatingly long hours, the top 11 Republicans fielded questions, some of them inane, from CNN's Jake Tapper and two other questioners who might has well not have been there. If this were a contest on the merits, several of the candidates would drop out based on their performance. But, alas, politics is not a meritocracy -- which won't stop many of us from rating the field anyway.

The two men leading in the polls, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, demonstrated that neither is ready to be commander in chief. Trump doesn't know much about anything except making money -- with help from tax breaks, bankruptcy laws when things don't work out, and selling himself. Carson is a thoroughly decent man with a wonderful personal story and a brilliant medical career, but his answers, especially on the war in Afghanistan, suggest he's not ready to assume command.

Of the nine others, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee should clearly step aside. Paul's isolationism makes him a dangerous choice at this point in history, but his performance in both debates also exposed his slightly weird persona, a combination of testy and wonkish that has little appeal. Huckabee is a polished TV talker, but he doesn't have a whole lot to say.

Jeb Bush was disappointing for the first two hours of the debate. He was a terrific governor, and a very conservative one, but he doesn't inspire. He'd make a good president, but he's a mediocre candidate. Nonetheless, the money he's raised will keep him in the race for a long time.

In a normal presidential year, the three sitting governors on stage -- Chris Christie, John Kasich and Scott Walker -- would be getting more traction. Kasich did well in the first debate but faltered in the second. Walker improved his performance but still couldn't break through. Christie had a good night and showed some of the appeal that drew New Jersey's voters to him. All three should stay in the race for now, and, who knows, one of them might make it onto the ticket, though not necessarily in the top spot.

Ted Cruz was, frankly, a little creepy. He kept looking into the camera when he talked, which made him seem like a robot, and his voice dripped with a studied sincerity. But, like Bush's, his campaign has a lot of cash, and he has a small but loyal constituency. He's likely to stick around, but, unlike a few of the other second-tier candidates, I don't see him with a spot on the ballot in November 2016.

The two clear debate winners were Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina. Both were in command of the issues and able to field questions in ways both substantive and personal. Judging by the applause in the room, both have personalities that excite people.

Rubio's biggest handicap is also his strength: He's young and looks even younger. But if this election is about the future, Rubio is the candidate who will draw in voters who might not have voted Republican in the past two. He handled the tough issue of immigration well, speaking about the need to reform legal immigration, which is the key to dealing with illegal immigration. If the questioners had been better informed, they would have challenged some of the ridiculous things Trump and others had to say on the issue, starting with the reality that illegal immigration is down to a 40-year low.

Fiorina was clearly the biggest winner, however. She was an impressive and commanding presence on stage. Fiorina's biggest drawback is that she has never won an election. In a year when being an outsider may be a plus, this may not hurt her in the GOP primaries, but it could prove a big problem come the general election.

Many Americans regret their choice to elect a virtual unknown and inexperienced candidate in 2008 (which doesn't quite explain why they voted for him again in 2012), although Fiorina has a far more impressive resume than Barack Obama's before becoming president. She's actually run things and made tough choices in her career, and Obama hadn't when he was elected. But the last time Americans elected a president who'd never held office was 1952 -- and Dwight D. Eisenhower had just led the Allied forces to victory against the Nazis.

It's still early, but if this were a horserace, I'd put my money on Rubio or Fiorina to place come November 2016.

Pop Quiz

Who is the famous African American being quoted here?:

[Although crime] is born of poverty, we must also realize that crime is generated by a lack of values that has largely gone unaddressed in our nation as a whole and in the black community in particular. Soaring unwed birthrates, absentee fathers, an aversion to work, an unwillingness to embrace societal standards and time-honored discipline — all these factors have contributed to the problems we must now confront.

Choose from:
A.  Ben Carson, surgeon and presidential candidate
B.  Thomas Sowell, scholar and columnist
C.  Bill Clinton, our first black president
D.  Eric Holder, former U.S. attorney general

The answer is D, in 1994, when he was serving in the Clinton administration. 

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The New York Times had an article last week on a new school-discipline report being released that documents how, in 13 southern states, black students are suspended or expelled at higher rates than white students. But of course this is discrimination only if black students are not misbehaving more than white students, and there is no effort to answer that question in just-released report. It is unlikely that all racial and ethnic groups misbehave at the same rate, given various cultural differences; see this article in the Journal of Criminal Justice titled “Prior problem behavior accounts for racial gap in school suspensions.” 

The executive summary of last week’s report makes a big deal about these being southern states, presumably to make the suggestion of discrimination more plausible. One could quibble a bit about the 13 states selected (why West Virginia and not Maryland, Delaware, or Oklahoma?), but I was more amused by the emphasis that 55 percent of the nation’s suspension of black students and 50 percent of their expulsions took place in the South. That’s because, if you do the math, 51 percent of the nation’s black population is in those 13 states, so they are not out of line with the rest of the country.  

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Last May, the Manhattan Institute sponsored a symposium titled, “Prospects for Black America:  The Moynihan Report Turns 50.” The various panel discussions were videotaped and are available online. I’m working my way through them and just finished watching the third one, “Restoring the Family,” which is a terrific and lively discussion among Ron Haskins, Glenn Loury, and Bob Woodson, moderated by Kay Hymowitz and introduced by Jason Riley. It’s really, really good — and you won’t be tempted to stop watching it once you start, which is a good thing, because the last question from the audience at the end is a fitting finale.

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Here’s a short letter we recently sent to Scott Maddox of the Tallahassee city commission:

We enjoyed your recent op-ed here — especially the part questioning the "disparity study."  These studies are always a waste of money:  Their only purpose is to try to justify racial preferences in government contracting, and such discrimination is wrong whether it's legal or not, and in our view cannot be justified even as a legal matter by a disparity study.  The measures that can (and should) be undertaken to ensure that no one is discriminated against in government contracting should be race-neutral (duh) and do not necessitate a disparity study.  … Please keep up the good fight against government waste — and against racial discrimination by the government, whether of the politically correct or politically incorrect kind!

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The Washington Post last week had a breathless piece about how more people support “affirmative action” for women than for minorities, even though the same people think there is more discrimination against minorities than against women.  My response: 

A methodological point:  It's a problem that "affirmative action" is not defined, since it can mean different things to different people — everything from the original meaning (taking positive steps to ensure equal treatment) to quotas achieved via preferential treatment (the common current meaning).  A legal point:  The Supreme Court has long rejected societal discrimination as a justification for preferential treatment.  A cynical point:  Maybe the reason that more people favor affirmative action for women than for minorities is because there are more women in this country than there are minorities — and people favor preferential treatment for their group, deserved or not.

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And speaking of quotas, I’ll end with two other short points: 

The use of quotas seems to have created problems in India, too, hasn’t it?  That made the front page of the New York Times this week. 

But the Obama administration is continuing to push companies to get their numbers right, with its most recent target being, well, Target.  The company had asked an outside vendor to come up with some pre-employment tests to use for screening candidates, but the administration didn’t like the fact that the tests had a “disparate impact” on the basis of race, ethnicity, and sex.

The Refugee Crisis

The refugee crisis facing Europe is the worst since the end of World War II, and it will not end anytime soon. Some 9 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes by war, including an estimated 4 million who have fled the country. The U.N. estimates that there are now 60 million refugees as the result of conflicts worldwide.

While Germany is leading the way in welcoming 800,000 Syrian refugees, it is unlikely that any European country will be able to keep up so generous a policy for long. Nationalist, anti-immigrant parties are gaining ground in France, the Netherlands, Austria and elsewhere in Europe. A flood of Muslim refugees from the Middle East and Africa will no doubt fuel a backlash that adds to these parties' appeal. It is a dangerous situation that could turn the immediate crisis into a decades-long political upheaval.

Europe has done a poor job of turning immigrants, especially from the Middle East, into Europeans. France, which, like the United States, has at least a nominal assimilationist ethos, has nonetheless failed to integrate its large Muslim population, which now accounts for about 8 percent of the population. England, too, has large populations of unassimilated Muslims, including more than a million who live in enclaves in London, as well as in cities like Birmingham. The British Muslim population has more than doubled in the past 10 years and now comprises 5 percent of the country's total. Germany's Muslims now account for 6 percent of its population, which will grow another 1 percent with the expected inflow of new refugees.

These numbers are far lower than the U.S. immigrant population -- which now stands at 13 percent -- but there are big differences in the experience of immigrants in the U.S. versus Europe. Despite the claims of anti-immigrant groups in the U.S., America's immigrants quickly assimilate into the social and economic mainstream. There are many reasons for this -- not least that virtually all Americans have foreign roots -- but we also believe in the importance of assimilating newcomers quickly.

The Germans should be applauded for their generosity in welcoming so many Syrians -- but if those Syrians are to become fully integrated, it will take a massive effort and a change in the mindset of German elites and the population as a whole.

The biggest problem will be to help these refugees find jobs. Most Western countries, including the United States, provide temporary assistance to refugees, including housing, food and cash to help them through the initial stages of resettlement. Unlike immigrants who are expected to pay their own way -- and do so in the U.S. -- refugees are by definition people who have to flee quickly without being able to gather the resources to set up a new life. Most of the Syrians have paid thousands of dollars to human smugglers who got them past borders and into Europe in the first place, and so these refugees' personal resources are exhausted.

The cost of settling refugees will be substantial, but Germany, at least, seems willing to bear it. The challenge is to wean them off of assistance programs as quickly as possible -- and here the record is much worse in Europe than in the U.S. Unemployment among refugees and immigrants in general in Europe is substantially above what it is for the native-born.

This is not the case in the U.S., where unemployment is low among immigrants. Foreign-born workers in the U.S. had an unemployment rate of only 5.6 percent in 2015. In the European Union, the unemployment rate of the foreign-born was 21.5 percent in 2013 and even higher in countries like Spain and Greece. Jobless young Muslims throughout Europe have been fertile recruiting ground for ISIS, and they are among the perpetrators of domestic terrorism in England, France and Spain

President Obama has directed the State Department to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year as part of the United States' contingent of 70,000 authorized refugees. It is the right thing to do, but it will only be a Band-Aid on the hemorrhage that is occurring in the Middle East. Only an end to the war can ultimately stem the flow, and Obama has shown no real commitment to enforcing red lines against the murderous Assad regime, nor has he stopped the spread of ISIS in the region.

Thankfully, the American people and our traditions of assimilating newcomers will at least lead to better lives for those Syrians lucky enough to be among the refugees who end up here with jobs, instead of out of work in Europe.

All Lives Matter

The murder of two journalists near Roanoke, Va., this week is another horrifying chapter in what is becoming a story of rekindled racial animus in this nation. That it took place so close to the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s inspiring "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28 is a reminder that we have retreated from that Promised Land where we would, in King's words, "be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."

Vester Lee Flanagan II, the man who murdered Alison Parker, a 24-year-old reporter, and her 27-year-old cameraman on live TV and then killed himself, left no doubt about his motives. In a display of sadistic narcissism, Flanagan filmed the killing and then posted it on social media and left a record of racist diatribes. He claimed in a rambling rant faxed to ABC News two hours after the shooting, "What sent me over the top was the church shooting," in Charleston, S.C., in June, in which a white racist massacred nine African-Americans. Flanagan purchased a gun two days later and began planning his revenge, including, according to his tirade, carving the initials of the dead blacks into the bullets intended for his white victims. An eye for an eye.

The killings in Charleston shocked the nation. How could it be, we asked ourselves, that racism can still wreak such carnage when we have come so far in achieving an end to the pervasive discrimination and racial hatred that once infected so much of the nation? The deaths of these innocent black men and women in a church meeting hall in 2015 consumed the media, pushed the South Carolina legislature to vote overwhelmingly to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds, and sparked much soul-searching among the American people.

It is doubtful that the racial motivation in Flanagan's evil deeds will provoke a similar response. There is no national black leader today of the same stature and moral fortitude to warn as King did in 1963: "In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred."

When Dylann Roof gunned down parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, he did so, he later told police, in the hopes of igniting a race war. That grandiose and disgusting fantasy will not likely play out, but all murders and other attacks fueled by racial hatred should nonetheless worry us, whether white-on-black or black-on-white or any other combination of inter-ethnic violence thus motivated.

We are used to hearing of the dangers of white racism, and unfortunately, we receive reminders all too frequently that it still exists, even if less widespread and less common than in the past. I am not one who believes we should diminish our focus just because things are better now than they once were. That we have anyone who seeks to harm others because of the color of their skin is a matter of shame and concern. These acts deserve attention, and we should not shrug them off. But neither should we ignore the implications when members of racial or ethnic groups commit similar racist acts.

Racism -- no matter the color of the perpetrator -- is vile. We have come a very long way in ending formal racial, ethnic and sex discrimination, but it seems we have a way to go in achieving King's dream: "that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

King spoke those words to all Americans. They were intended not just for civil rights activists, but also for the followers of Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X, his black contemporaries who eschewed nonviolence in favor of fomenting racial hatred, as well as supporters of white racists like Bull Connor and George Wallace. Where is the voice in today's African-American community who will proclaim the message that All Lives Matter and none should be cut short as a matter of racial animus or revenge?

Tom Klingenstein’s Excellent Idea

Tom Klingenstein — who, I am proud to say, is on the Center for Equal Opportunity’s board of directors — has an excellent idea that he discusses in his new essay at the Claremont Review of Books. Here’s the first paragraph:

I begin by offering the trustees of my alma mater, Williams College, a bit of advice: Establish a board level standing committee on free expression (COFE). Provide COFE with the staff and independence of the college’s outside audit firm. COFE’s purpose, to ensure free expression, is analogous to that of the audit committee.  Free expression is at least as important as financial soundness, and there is no reason to believe that the former requires any less oversight than does the latter. To an “Eph” who claims there is no free speech problem at Williams, I ask two, admittedly barbed, questions: How could you possibly know? Do you recommend that Williams disband the audit committee?

An “Eph,” by the way, is the name given a matriculant at Williams College, in honor of its founder, Colonel Ephraim Williams. You learn something new every day. 

An additional thought:  A good chair for the school’s new COFE would be Bill Bennett (Williams class of ‘65).

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The Center for Equal Opportunity works closely with the two remaining conservative members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow.  And, as it happens, each of them deserves a shout-out this week.

Ladies first:  The Heritage Foundation last week published an outstanding new paper by Ms. Heriot, whose day job is as a law professor at the University of San Diego. The paper’s title is “A ‘Dubious Expediency’:  How Race-Preferential Admissions Policies on Campus Hurt Minority Students,” and here’s the teaser:  “Mounting empirical research shows that race-preferential admissions policies are doing more harm than good. Instead of increasing the numbers of African Americans entering high-status careers, these policies reduce those numbers relative to what we would have had if colleges and universities had followed race-neutral policies. We have fewer African-American scientists, physicians, and engineers and likely fewer lawyers and college professors.”

On to Mr. Kirsanow:  I had written for National Review Online a short post on school discipline last month, and I’d now like to follow up with this link to an excellent letter that Mr. Kirsanow has written to Arne Duncan on the Obama administration’s bad law (“disparate impact”) and bad policy (with unintended consequences) in this area.

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Another item, which is not really in CEO’s bailiwick but which I thought was interesting nonetheless, involving something of a discrepancy in recent obituaries in the New York Times versus the Washington Post. It’s interesting, that is, that Times obituary last week of actor Dean Jones — most famous for his roles in various Disney movies — discusses his becoming a born-again Christian in the 1970s, his subsequent work in Christian-themed films (one of which my Sunday school class used), and his founding in 1998 of the Christian Rescue Committee — now the Christian Rescue Fund — “a support group for Christians, Jews and others who have been persecuted for their faith.”  The Associated Press obituary, run by the Washington Post on the same day, is fairly lengthy, too, but doesn’t mention any of this.  Score one for the Times

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But only one, I’m afraid.  There was also a front-page story in the business section of the New York Times last week, talking about recent efforts to increase the number of African Americans working in Silicon Valley.  The gist of it is that there are a lot of people out there who might make good in the high-tech world, but they are either overlooked or don’t even consider entering that industry.   Thus, people are beginning initiatives like the “Hidden Genius Project” to find these people.

I’m prepared to believe that there are undiscovered diamonds in the rough out there, but it’s a mistake to assume that such diamonds come in only one or two colors.  There is, that is, no reason to exclude whites and Asian Americans from these efforts — assuming, of course, that the aim is actually to find the best qualified people, and not just to achieve a politically correct racial and ethnic mix through the use of quotas.

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The Center for Equal Opportunity hopes that you and yours had a wonderful summer!

At Length and Ad Nauseam

My email this week features two long quotes, and I’m warning you beforehand that neither should be read on an empty stomach.  But you’ll see that at least I’m not being partisan.

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Here’s the set-up for the first item:  I’ve noted before that those bemoaning the “institutional racism” of Amerikkka seem to have very little idea of what it is they would propose as a corrective in 2015.  They can’t ask for laws abolishing slavery or Jim Crow or prohibiting racial discrimination; they can’t demand an African American president or attorney general either.

There was more evidence of this over the weekend, in a long interview for the New York Times of prominent African American intellectual Cornel West.  He was asked, “When it comes to race in America in 2015, what is to be done?”  And here’s his answer, his complete answer:

Well, the first thing, of course, is you’ve got to shatter denial, avoidance and evasion. That’s part of my criticism of the president. For seven years, he just hasn’t or refused to hit it head-on. It looks like he’s now beginning to find his voice. But in finding his voice, it’s either too late or he’s lost his moral authority. He can’t drop drones on hundreds of innocent children and then talk about how upset he is when innocent people are killed. You can’t reshape the world in the image of corporate interest and image with Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and then say that you’re in deep solidarity with working people and poor people. You can’t engage in massive surveillance, keeping track of phone calls across the board, targeting Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and others, and then turn right back around and say you’re against secrecy, you’re against clandestine policy.

So that, unfortunately, if he had come right in and asserted his moral authority over against Fox News, over against right-wing, conservative folk who were coming at him — even if he lost — he would have let the world know what his deep moral convictions are. But he came in as a Machiavellian. He came in with political calculation. That’s why he brought in Machiavellians like Rahm Emanuel and Larry Summers, and others. So, it was clear it was going to be political calculation, not moral conviction.

How can anyone take your word seriously after seven years about how we need to put a spotlight on racism when, for seven years, you’ve been engaged in political calculation about racism? But then you send out your lieutenants.

You send out all your Obama cheerleaders and bootlickers and they say to his critics that he is president of all of America, not black America. And we say white supremacy is a matter of truth. Are you interested in truth?

It’s a matter of justice. Are you interested in justice? It’s a matter of national security. Are you interested in national security? Well, we talk about black America. We’re not talking about some ghettoized group that’s just an interest group that you have to engage in political calculation about. When you talk about black people, you’re talking about wrestling with lies and injustice coming at them and their quest for truth and justice. If you’re not interested in truth and justice, no politician ought to be in office, and not just the president. So, we’ve actually had a major setback in seven years; a lost opportunity.

So, in other words, what Professor Cornel West thinks American race relations needs in 2015 is,  … well, I guess all he can think of is a president who talks more about race relations.

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Here’s the set-up for the second item.  Last week, there were a number of news stories in which Ohio governor (and presidential hopeful) John Kasich was quoted as crowing about how the state’s minority contracting goal (read “quota”) had at long last been achieved.   Here is the statement that was released.  Nothing to brag about, in my view, if you are committed to nondiscriminatory government contracting:

For the first time in history, the State of Ohio has reached the goals of its Minority Business Enterprise program by purchasing a record 19 percent of eligible goods and services through minority-owned businesses while spending a record $228.5 million. Ohio’s MBE program, established in 1980, mandates that state agencies set aside 15 percent of their annual purchases for goods and services for certified minority-owned businesses.

“More than 30 years ago, as a member of the Ohio Senate, I joined in voting for a more inclusive approach for those seeking to do business with state government,” said Ohio Governor John Kasich. “Casting that vote, I never envisioned it would take three decades to achieve it. For far too long, Ohio has failed to live up to expectations that were set into law. By making this a priority, we are now able to help more small businesses from all backgrounds take part in our state’s economic success. That is reason to celebrate.”

Out of the eligible expenditures for goods and services purchased during Fiscal Year 2015, a total of 17.21 percent were set aside for MBE-certified businesses. Another 2.20 percent of eligible goods and services were purchased from MBE-certified businesses through open-market contracts, for a total of 19.41 percent of eligible goods and services purchased through MBE-certified businesses.

Under Governor Kasich’s  leadership, the state has made steady progress in expanding its base of suppliers by identifying more qualified minority businesses and encouraging them to work with the state to supply the goods and services it needs to operate. As a result of this effort, the state set an initial record in Fiscal Year 2014 with $165 million in minority business expenditures followed by this new record of $228.5 million in Fiscal Year 2015.

On Dec. 17, 1980, House Bill 584 was signed into law, establishing the MBE program, which mandated that state agencies set aside 15 percent of their annual purchases for goods and services for certified minority-owned businesses.

As a member of the General Assembly in 1980, Governor Kasich voted to support House Bill 584 and after becoming Ohio’s governor made its achievement a priority of his administration.

Since 2011, the state has made steady progress in identifying set-aside opportunities, certifying minority-owned businesses and matching them with state contract opportunities. State agencies, boards and commissions now produce annual spending plans that project set-aside contract and procurement opportunities for qualified MBE-certified businesses the aggregate value for which is at least 15 percent. …

As I said, there’s not much in this program that Governor Kasich ought to be bragging about, at least if he thinks that the government should be trying to ensure that it awards its contracts to the lowest qualified bidders, regardless of skin color or what country their ancestors came from.

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One last item, which I hope will be easier on your stomach.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that I would be appearing at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting on a panel discussing voting-rights issues.   A video with snippets from that discussion has been posted now here, and you can see some of my remarks at the 7:15–9:30 mark.