Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cruising the Web

So after President Obama's actions in Syria have totally failed, he's reduced to looking to Russia and Iran to calm things down.
When President Barack Obama spoke at the United Nations today, he opened the door wide to cooperation with Iran and Russia in an effort to end the Syrian civil war that has shattered the Middle East, spawned ferocious new terrorist forces, and driven millions toward the frontiers of Europe to seek safety.

In what was generally a boilerplate paean to democracy, the rule of law, and the virtues of diplomacy, Obama conceded “nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria,” where “realism dictates that compromise will be required.”

Reality also demonstrates that Obama’s efforts to shape a policy over the last four years of violence have been utter failures, with the latest humiliations including the defection of U.S.-trained Syrian rebel forces to the ranks of al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate.
George Will pointed out on Fox News last evening that civil wars do not end in compromise. Will ran through a history of world civil wars from the English to the Chinese civil wars. None of them ended in compromise. That's not how history works. But then we've long established that Barack Obama knows very little about history. Perhaps if he did, he would have a sense of what a terrible thing it is for us to abdicate our role in the Middle East to Russia and Iran.

Bret Stephens summarizes the self-deceptions of our President's foreign policy.
Barack Obama told the U.N.’s General Assembly on Monday he’s concerned that “dangerous currents risk pulling us back into a darker, more disordered world.” It’s nice of the president to notice, just don’t expect him to do much about it.

Recall that it wasn’t long ago that Mr. Obama took a sunnier view of world affairs. The tide of war was receding. Al Qaeda was on a path to defeat. ISIS was “a jayvee team” in “Lakers uniforms.” Iraq was an Obama administration success story. Bashar Assad’s days were numbered. The Arab Spring was a rejoinder to, rather than an opportunity for, Islamist violence. The intervention in Libya was vindication for the “lead from behind” approach to intervention. The reset with Russia was a success, a position he maintained as late as September 2013. In Latin America, the “trend lines are good.”

“Overall,” as he told Tom Friedman in August 2014—shortly after ISIS had seized control of Mosul and as Vladimir Putin was muscling his way into eastern Ukraine—“I think there’s still cause for optimism.”

It’s a remarkable record of prediction. One hundred percent wrong. The professor president who loves to talk about teachable moments is himself unteachable. Why is that?
Obama said that it was all so and, for him, 'nuff said.
When you’ve defined your political task as “fundamentally transforming the United States of America”—as Mr. Obama did on the eve of his election in 2008—then your hands are full. Let other people sort out their own problems.

But that isn’t all. The president also has an overarching moral theory about American power, expressed in his 2009 contention in Prague that “moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon.”

At the time, Mr. Obama was speaking about the end of the Cold War—which, he claimed, came about as a result of “peaceful protest”—and of his desire to see a world without nuclear weapons. It didn’t seem to occur to him that the possession of such weapons by the U.S. also had a hand in winning the Cold War. Nor did he seem to contemplate the idea that moral leadership can never safely be a substitute for weapons unless those leaders are willing to throw themselves at the mercy of their enemies’ capacity for shame.

In late-era South Africa and the Soviet Union, where men like F.W. de Klerk and Mikhail Gorbachev had a sense of shame, the Obama theory had a chance to work. In Iran in 2009, or in Syria today, it doesn’t.

Then again, that distinction doesn’t much matter to this president, since he seems to think that seizing the moral high ground is victory enough.
But none of that matters since history is on our side. I guess there is some goddess of history out there making sure that things go the right way. So the United States can just state platitudes and consider that enough of a foreign policy.
It’s easy to accept this view of life if you owe your accelerated good fortune to a superficial charm and understanding of the way the world works. It’s also easier to lecture than to learn, to preach than to act. History will remember Barack Obama as the president who conducted foreign policy less as a principled exercise in the application of American power than as an extended attempt to justify the evasion of it.

From Aleppo to Donetsk to Kunduz, people are living with the consequences of that evasion.

As a result we get this almost joke of a headline from the Washington Post: "Obama seeks clarity on Syria strategy as Russia enters the battle space."
Even as Russian President Vladi­mir Putin started sending tanks, aircraft and additional personnel to Syria’s Mediterranean coast early this month, Obama told his top national security advisers to step back and assemble a sharper picture of how various proposed initiatives would fit together into a coherent whole and improve what is a largely stagnant conflict.

Putin’s moves have further delayed and complicated decision-making on plans that include sending U.S. arms directly to Kurdish and Arab rebels in northeastern Syria, and scaling back and revamping a failed U.S. military training program for other Syrian opposition fighters.

The Russian leader’s objectives remain a mystery to the White House, leading Obama to conclude that the best way to find out is to ask him directly.
Really - we're seeking clarity while Russian tanks are on the ground. Do they really doubt what Putin's objectives are? Do they think that Putin has any other goal than expanding Russia's power and influence into the Middle East.

And this is typical rhetoric from our peace partners, Iran.
Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Monday afternoon, discussing matters such as the Hajj pilgrimage disaster and the Iran nuclear deal. Rouhani also jabbed the “Zionist regime” of Israel and demanded it surrender its nuclear weapons. He topped off his speech by concluding that U.S. and Israel are to blame for regional terrorism
Yeah, that's the source of terrorism in the Middle East. Does anyone buy that?

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Hold off on any feeling of relief that Obama and President Xi of China have reached an agreement on cyber security. As the WSJ writes, it's all a mirage.
All of this is an elaborate way of saying that the two sides agreed to nothing. Though Mr. Obama hailed the deal for creating “architecture to govern behavior in cyberspace that is enforceable and clear,” it transparently is neither. Mr. Xi still insists that his government “does not engage in theft of commercial secrets in any form,” or encourage Chinese companies to do so, as he told The Wall Street Journal last week. So what’s the problem?

As for enforceability, the line about abiding by “respective national laws” gives the game away. In China the Communist Party is by definition above the law, as are the companies and entities it controls. If Mr. Xi won’t admit to the problem, his minions won’t either. Knowing this, U.S. officials will also be reluctant to disclose much of what they know about Chinese cyber-espionage abuses lest they compromise U.S. sources and methods.

All of this means the Chinese are unlikely to be deterred from engaging in the kind of cybertheft that has served them so well, such as the 2007 hack of one of the military contractors building the F-35 fighter jet, which allowed the Chinese to develop the copycat J-20 and J-31 stealth planes. Other victims of suspected Chinese cyberespionage include Canada’s once-giant Nortel Networks, which was driven into bankruptcy in 2009 partly due to the hacking, as well as media companies like Bloomberg and this newspaper.

The agreement gives Mr. Xi the opportunity to play the diplomatic games China has specialized in for years regarding the South China Sea, known to Beijing-watchers as “talk and take.” In the South China version, Beijing has become adept at negotiating endlessly with its Asian neighbors over disputed claims and codes of conduct—all while seizing control of disputed reefs, building islands, and interfering in maritime traffic. To adapt Clausewitz, diplomacy for the Chinese is the continuation of cyberespionage by other means.

The agreement also ignores China’s cyberassaults on U.S. government targets, such as last year’s mega-hack of the Office of Personnel Management. Washington may have good reasons not to codify principles that would prohibit the U.S. from responding to such an attack, but if so it would be good to know if the Administration is forgiving the OPM hack.

In his press conference with Mr. Xi, Mr. Obama said the U.S. would use sanctions and “whatever other tools we have in our tool kit to go after cybercriminals, either retrospectively or prospectively.” But nearly seven years into his Presidency, Mr. Obama isn’t famous for follow through.

The cyber accord looks like another case of Mr. Obama claiming an imaginary moral high ground that sounds tough but is likely to be unenforceable. Expect more digital theft until Beijing pays a price for it, presumably in a future U.S. Administration.
President Obama putting his faith in paper promises from states that are historically bad actors? That seems to be his whole approach to foreign policy around the world except for the countries that are our allies.

Abraham Miller at the American Spectator expresses what I believe: "Compassion for refugees should not mean cultural suicide." Unless refugees are going to acculturate to American society, we can't absorb them.
Cultural equality is a myth fostered by a multicultural vision that exists mostly in college classrooms. A culture of repression is not equal to a culture of tolerance, unless one is willing not to see tolerance as a virtue.

If the West were obligated to take in and resettle refugees from every strife-torn nation, there would no longer be a West. It would be overrun by refugees who refuse to be acculturated, and who carry their internecine conflicts into the refugee camps themselves, where Christians and Yezidis fear to go because of Muslim bullying, where even among Muslims nationalism revives ancient conflicts.

Although Germany is nominally a Christian nation, Muslims bully Christians out of German government-provided public housing, showing that even in the face of common adversity, there is no such thing as multiculturalism among the refugees. The same cultural oppression has taken place in Sweden.

In speaking of the refugee problem, President Obama has appealed to our historic roots as a nation of immigrants. Yes, we are a nation of immigrants, and between 1880 and 1920 we received, almost without restriction, all those that Europe sent to us, whether Sicilian Catholics, Scandinavian Protestants, or the Christian Orthodox of Eastern Europe. Despite their differences, they had one thing in common. They did not just yearn to come to America; they yearned to be Americans.

No nation can afford to open its doors to those who choose to be a people apart, absorbing the largess of a society, including its welfare, medical care, and education, while seeking to establish a parallel world. That’s not an immigration policy that advances a culture. It is one that causes its disintegration.
But in these days when diversity seems to be the highest goal for some people, acculturation is an alien and imperialistic concept.

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Chris Edwards of CATO likes a lot of Trump's tax policy proposal, but notes a real problem with it.
So a missing detail from the Trump proposal is his plan for the EITC. By zeroing out income tax for 31 million additional tax filers, he would automatically be boosting spending through the EITC. The refundable, or spending, part of the EITC is already $60 billion a year. Would Trump push that spending even higher?

I like many features of Trump’s overall tax plan. But taking more people off the tax rolls is not a good way to keep the government limited. If something is “free,” people will demand more of it. Under Trump, 31 million more households would have an incentive to demand more spending from Washington.
Jordan Weissmann of Slate notes the similarities between Trump's and Jeb Bush's tax proposals.
Trump, you may recall, has built a very lucrative, low-risk real estate business slapping his name on other people's buildings. Now, rather amusingly, he seems to be applying the same approach to the world of campaign policy production. Don't be surprised if he starts promising 5 percent growth soon.

Kevin Williamson is fed up with these pie-in-the-sky tax proposals.
The Trump tax cuts would not be very large for lower-income households, because those households don’t have a lot of federal income taxes to cut. But there are a lot of them. Trump’s plan—which resembles Jeb Bush’s plan to a suspicious degree—would by Team Trump’s own reckoning take 31 million households off the tax rolls, and it would substantially reduce taxes for a lot of households making more than $50,000 a year, too. The idea that this is going to be made revenue-neutral by dickeying around with deductions—while sheltering all of the big, popular deductions, such as the one for mortgage interest—is pure fantasy.

All the cheap talk about “hedge fund guys” and carried interest isn’t going to make up that lost revenue, either, especially when you add in the cuts to the corporate income tax, etc. For all of the awed talk about hedge funds, their profits are not nearly large enough to rely upon taxing them heavily to close our national fiscal gap. Certainly not under Trump’s plan: Bumping a couple of hedge funds and private equity firms from the top long-term capital gains rate of 23.8 percent to a top personal tax rate of 25 percent isn’t going to generate a lot of revenue. In fact, it very well may constitute a tax cut for at least some of those financiers, who do pay ordinary income tax rates on a substantial share of their incomes.

Trump’s other big idea—also one of Barack Obama’s big ideas—is to attempt a forced repatriation of companies’ overseas profits, offering a sweetheart rate (10 percent) to soften the blow. This moves in precisely the wrong direction: The United States maintains a counterproductive tax system that presumes to tax the worldwide activity of U.S.-based companies; most advanced countries use a “territorial” system, meaning that they tax activity within their actual jurisdictions. (It is not clear where the U.S. government imagines that it gets the power to take a piece when a U.S. company builds a widget in South Korea and sells it in Switzerland.) This would simply create yet another incentive for U.S.-based firms to move their headquarters abroad to jurisdictions with less insane tax and regulatory environments, or to engage in ever-more-complex tax-avoidance shenanigans.

Thoughtless? Criminally simple-minded? Sure, but par for the course for a guy who just went on 60 Minutes and proposed inventing Medicaid.

Republicans need to get it through their heads: This country doesn’t need another tax-cut plan—it needs a spending-cut plan.
He's exactly right that it is a myth to think we will get economic growth simply by cutting taxes without cutting spending. And that just isn't happening.
Every Republican tax-reform plan should be rooted in this reality: If you are going to have federal spending that is 21 percent of GDP, then you can have a.) taxes that are 21 percent of GDP; b.) deficits. There is no c.

If, on the other hand, you have a credible program for reducing spending to 17 or 18 percent of GDP, which is where taxes have been coming in, please do share it.

The problem with the Growth Fairy model of balancing budgets is that while economic growth would certainly reduce federal spending as a share of GDP if spending were kept constant, there is zero evidence that the government of these United States has the will or the inclination to enact serious spending controls when times are good (Uncork the champagne!) or when times are bad (Wicked austerity! We must have stimulus!). So even if we buy Jeb Bush’s happy talk about growth, or Donald Trump’s, the idea that spending is just going to magically sit there, inert, while the economy zips forward and the tax coffers fill up, is delusional.

There are no tax cuts when the government is running deficits, only tax deferrals.

Paul Reyes of CNN and Tim Teeman of Daily Beast were exactly right - Stephen Colbert was unnaturally obsequious when he had Donald Trump on last week. As Reyes writes,
Donald Trump hit "The Late Show" Tuesday night, and Stephen Colbert fans might have expected some fireworks, given that the host has mocked Trump mercilessly over the years. But that's not what happened.

Instead, we got a virtual bromance -- a disappointment and a missed opportunity. Trump dialed down his usual self, leaving Colbert to come off -- as Trump might have put it -- like a "low-energy person."

....We know that Colbert is capable of putting politicians on the hot seat from his years of skewering lawmakers (as his alter ego) on "The Colbert Report." More recently he has done insightful, newsworthy interviews with Joe Biden and Ted Cruz. So it makes no sense that Colbert would apologize to the man who has insulted Mexicans, immigrants, women, TV anchors and his fellow candidates.

So the Washington Post gave Carly Fiorina three Pinocchios for saying she went from secretary to CEO even though they agree that it is factually correct but that it is still not truthful because they say so.
Fiorina uses a familiar, “mailroom to boardroom” trope of upward mobility that the public is familiar with, yet her story is nothing like that. In telling her only-in-America story, she conveniently glosses over the only-for-Fiorina opportunities and options beyond what the proverbial mailroom worker has. As such, she earns Three Pinocchios.
So now telling truthful facts about her own biography because she didn't discuss what came in between. Does anyone think that saying she went from secretary to CEO implies that nothing came in between? Who would infer that from her statement? Yet by using their standard of three Pinocchios, they are implying that she actually is lying. Howard Kurtz, formerly of the Washington Post, giving the Washington Post four Pinochios for their assessment of Fiorina's statements about her career.

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Ross Douthat, who is one of the most honest commentators around, provides his own personal fact-check of what Carly Fiorina said in the last debate about Planned Parenthood. He does find that she mischaracterized the video by conflating the video with what was being described on tape, but that is more seems to be a case of her misremembering what she'd seen than an actual lie.
But she didn’t conjure or invent it: It’s very easy to figure out what scene she’s talking about, and the discrepancies between what’s in the documentary and her description aren’t wild or incredible or weird. There’s no outright fabrication here, in other words, and what Lithwick calls “the big lie about the kicking fetus and the brain harvesting” is a roughly ­accurate summary of what the film actually shows. (A twitching, dying fetus? Check. A
firsthand description of harvesting a brain from an intact fetus? Check again.)

So for Fiorina to actually be proven as wildly misleading and fundamentally dishonest as her critics keep suggesting, they would need to marshal evidence beyond just a parsing of her words, and demonstrate that
the thing she’s describing is an inaccurate depiction of what happens inside abortion clinics that double as tissue procurement centers. They would need to prove that, for instance, the technician in the video is lying about what she saw and did, or that the footage of the twitching fetus in the bowl is fake, or that abortionists never approach the procedure with an eye toward making sure the fetal body comes out intact, or that the idea that this leads to “born alive” cases is just a myth and all testimony (including, implicitly, Planned Parenthood’s own) to the contrary is false or misleading.

Evidence on any of those counts would actually rebut Fiorina’s essential claim, which is that the process of acquiring organs from the unborn involves practices and habits that would shock the squeamishly prochoice
if they ever had to confront the reality — and that they ought to confront it, politicians very much included included, ideally by watching the videos the Center for Medical Progress has produced.

But I don’t see that kind of counter­-evidence being offered in Lithwick’s piece, or in any other similar fact check. I see a lot of talk about selective editing, but mostly the claim is just that the CMP exaggerated Planned Parenthood’s eagerness to turn a profit on these practices, rather than that their videos mischaracterized the practices themselves. So I’ll put it to Fiorina’s critics: Is what she’s describing actually a pure fantasy? Is it entirely false to suggest that brains and other organs are regularly harvested from fetuses whose limbs can still twitch and whose hearts can still beat, and that abortion procedures are sometimes chosen with that harvesting in mind?

Because if it is false, that seems like an important point to press. But if not, I’m not sure that their case against Carly Fiorina, alleged prevaricator, is all that strong a rebuttal to her case against Planned Parenthood, publicly funded dismemberer of tiny, still­ twitching human lives.
He's exactly right. Planned Parenthood is spending more time trying to refute what Fiorina described rather than denying that they're doing exactly what they are accused of doing.

Stuart Rothenberg doesn't buy that the popularity of Trump, Carson, and Fiorina indicate some extraordinary level of anger in the Republican electorate.
Finally, the success of outsiders this time can be explained by their particular qualities. Few true outsiders (e.g., Cain, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes) have run in the recent past, and those politicians who have run as outsiders (e.g., Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul) have lacked broad appeal.

But Trump is a celebrity who knows how to manipulate the media, and Fiorina is a terrific debater who has become relevant because of her performance in the campaign. And Carson is a black neurosurgeon whose professional résumé and personal style are rare in Republican politics.

This is a different Republican Party with a field that is very different than in the past. Seven years of Obama have created more frustration than ever, but the past 18 months have radicalized some in the GOP grass roots. That change in mood, as well as the makeup of the two party fields, helps explain why this is such a different presidential race than in the past.

Ezra Klein has his own theory for why politics has been so surprising this year.
The tools that party insiders use to decide both electoral and legislative outcomes are being weakened by new technologies and changing media norms. And so models of American politics that assume the effectiveness of those tools — models that weight elite opinion heavily, and give outsiders and insurgents little chance — have been thrown off.

The kind of campaigning that happens on television and before crowds is a small fraction of what's necessary to win a nomination, or lead a congressional delegation. The inside game — courting donors, winning endorsements, influencing the primary calendar, securing key committee assignments, luring top staffers, working with interest groups —makes up the bulk of politics....

Parties have a range tools they can use to influence both electoral and legislative outcomes, but the most important one — in part because it underlies so many of the others — is elite opinion. If a critical mass of Republican Party elites think Jeb Bush is the best candidate, then the best staffers will want to work for him, the biggest donors will want to give him money, and voters will get signal after signal from trusted Republican sources that Bush deserves their vote.

Distilled to their essence, money, staff, and elite signaling all work to influence voters the same way: They shape the amount and kind of information voters possess. This happens both directly — money buys television airtime — and indirectly.

For instance, politically engaged voters get much of their information through various forms of political news; in order to generate all that political news, political reporters talk to party actors and watch fundraising numbers and note who's hiring the top staffers; and so the opinions of those party actors ends up influencing which candidates get covered and how positively they're portrayed, and that influences what voters end up knowing when they walk into the ballot booth.
But, as my AP Government and Politics students could explain, political parties are becoming weaker and weaker.
The importance of this process — and it remains important — is diminishing. Voters have more information than ever before, and they are able to shape and choose the information they get in unprecedented ways.

Bernie Sanders, for instance, received much more coverage than he would have in past elections because news organizations — Vox included — noticed that stories about Sanders would explode on social media. That was a sign that there was more momentum behind his candidacy than most in Washington recognized; a sign that wouldn't have existed, and so couldn't have been heeded, a decade ago.

The media, meanwhile, is much more competitive than it's been in previous decades. Fox News barely existed before the 2000 election. BuzzFeed News didn't exist until the 2008 election. The profusion of outlets trying different coverage strategies, the tremendous amount of feedback about what audiences actually like, and the all-against-all war for attention has led to more coverage of candidates who make for good stories and comparatively less coverage for candidates who are powered by a good reputation among party elites; this is why Donald Trump is by far the most-covered candidate of either party this cycle, while Rick Perry was beloved by insiders but mostly ignored on the trail.

In cases where the media doesn't cooperate, candidates have more options to speak directly to their supporters in order to get the media interested. Campaign-to-voter contact used to be cumbersome and expensive, but in the age of email, Facebook, and YouTube, it's nearly costless to communicate with supporters who want more information than the media is willing or able to provide. This was part of what powered Ron Paul's insurgent campaign in 2008 and 2012.

Of course, nearly costless isn't the same as actually costless. Fundraising still matters, but political parties have less control over money than ever before; the rise of unlimited-contribution Super PACs means that a candidate only needs one or two rich supporters to fund a campaign. Newt Gingrich's surprisingly strong and sustained challenge to Mitt Romney was largely funded by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who pumped about $20 million into Gingrich's Super PAC. Trump, of course, is self-funding.

All this has created a climate that's friendlier than it's ever been to politicians who can command a camera or dominate a televised debate or send their speeches viral, and that's more hostile than usual to candidates or policymakers who know how to work their caucus but can't work a crowd.
These are excellent points and must be very scary to people who make their living based on the old way of doing things. Of course, if at the end of all this, one of the more establishment candidates such as Rubio, Bush, or Kasich gets the nomination, then we might have to postpone the funeral for the establishment and the party. We'll see what happens, but I might be assigning this article next year to my students. It's one of the major themes we cover when we talk about elections.

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John McWhorter writes that the whole Black Lives Matter movement is living in the past. First of all, it's ludicrous to claim that this nation doesn't talk about race.
Here’s the problem. The going notion for anyone left of, roughly, the old New Republic is that disapproval of Black Lives Matter must come from “racism.” Charles Blow put this best, recently: “Discomfort with Black Lives Matter is, on some level and to some degree, a discomfort with blackness itself.”

But this, even with the careful hedges, is a hasty, and even lazy, reading of the issue. I imagine there are some people out there who don’t like BLM because it’s black people making noise. But what disturbs a great many—and I highly suspect many more—people about the philosophical underpinnings of BLM is that black people in poor neighborhoods are in vastly more danger of being killed by young black men than by the occasional bad cop.

“Our demand is simple: Stop killing us,” the movement says—while people nationwide look on and see, especially during the summers, tragic epidemics of black-on-black homicides and maimings in one city after another. But America wonders: What about “Let’s stop killing each other”?

This year alone, in Chicago almost 80 percent of the people killed have been black. In Baltimore the figure is 216 black people versus 11 white, in Philadelphia 200 black people versus 44 white. Most by other black people.

“Our demand is simple: Stop killing us,” the movement says. But America wonders: What about “Let’s stop killing each other”?
Some object that most people of any color are killed by someone of their own race, but it’s the proportions that are important—why do so many more black guys kill each other, numerically and proportionally? This is dismaying—we want to fix it. Yet the good-thinking dialogue on “race” in America has classified it as behind the curve to dwell on this issue. Instead we are to focus on the Darren Wilsons and Michael Slagers as black America’s supposed biggest problem regardless of actual homicide statistics because, because… well, what we get are such rickety defenses. One is the idea that somehow “the state” killing black people is worse than black people killing black people, which is one of the most infantilizing propositions imposed upon black America in its entire history. Blow, again, finesses it with fine language: “the state is representative of the totality of America.” But try telling the black Philadelphians dismayed at their nearest and dearest killed by their peers that their loss is somehow not as “totalic” as if a cop had done it.

William McGurn excoriates Mayor Bill de Blasio for his indifference to black lives when it comes to access to a quality education.
Today, however, the mayor is finding that his progressive measures are being turned against him. For nowhere in New York is the divide between haves and have-nots—or between black and white—as stark as it is on equal access to a decent education. It is this divide the pro-charter Families for Excellent Schools will highlight on Wednesday as mothers and fathers march across the Brooklyn Bridge to demand “school equality,” i.e., great schools for all children.

In the run up to this march, the group has released a powerful new TV ad designed to drive home the human costs of the existing inequality by showing a white boy and an African-American boy on their way to school. As the camera follows the white child, a narrator says, “Because he lives in a wealthy neighborhood, this 6-year-old will attend a good school.” It points out he’ll “likely go on to college.”

The black child is also walking to school. “Because he lives in a poor neighborhood, this 6-year-old will be forced into a failing school,” says the narrator. The narrator adds this child will probably never make it to college.

“Mayor de Blasio,” the ad ends, “stop forcing kids into failing schools. Half a million kids need new schools now.”
Of course, de Blasio can't do anything about this situation because he is too connected to the teachers' unions which are fighting tooth and nail against reforms such as charter schools.
The teachers-union narrative asks the city to celebrate the “success” of a school system in which there is no hint of any challenges. Families for Excellent Schools suggests that “success” is not the word for a school system in which half a million children—478,000 to be precise—languish in failure factories.

These are defined as schools where two-thirds of the students are failing, the city’s most rotten schools. Ninety percent of the kids in these schools are children of color. Families for Excellent Schools calls this system a “pipeline to failure,” noting that a child who starts in a failing elementary school has only a 1.6% chance of ever going on to a top-performing middle school.

Meanwhile, the same mayor who goes around the nation lecturing Americans on the evils of inequality has just informed New Yorkers that their public-school system will see great results . . . in 2026. Not exactly reassuring news for a black mom with, say, a second-grader and a seventh-grader in the public school system. These children need good alternatives now.

Good charters offer part of the answer. In New York, Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter schools are arguably the best. Yet the mayor, his schools chancellor and the teachers union all apparently prefer maintaining the present inequality rather than allow Ms. Moskowitz to open more of her charters in poor minority neighborhoods.

The Success Academies are 58% black and about 27% Hispanic. Even so, these children regularly outscore their counterparts in wealthy suburban areas. So while each year the Success Academies prove that black kids can compete as equals with white kids so long as the bar is set high and teachers are held accountable, in the schools run by Mayor de Blasio the achievement gap between black and white has widened.

Welcome to progressive New York. Where black and Latino children in poor neighborhoods are condemned to failed schools with almost no possibility of escape. While the schools where kids are treated equally and black lives really do matter get the back of the mayor’s hand.

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