A Ballplayer Illuminates Immigration

We are living in a time of record-shattering immigration, both legal and illegal. This concerns many Americans for several reasons. Contemporary immigration is overwhelmingly unskilled and semi-skilled, which means that incomes of working class Americans, especially African-Americans, have been and will continue to be depressed. Worst of all, perhaps, is the fact that we have lost the will to integrate immigrants into American society. High schools populated by immigrants used to teach classes in “Americanism”; just try that today. We are becoming an increasingly bilingual (or multilingual) society, with all of the social fragmentation that implies.

Which brings us to Kennys Vargas. You probably haven’t heard of Vargas, as the Minnesota Twins have been lousy for a few years. But Vargas was a rookie with the Twins last year. He is a big guy–6′ 5″ and 275 pounds, if you believe the program. More if you don’t. Vargas is from Puerto Rico, and he can hit the ball a long, long way. This is his rookie highlight reel, from last year:

The Twins have been leaders in bringing Latin players into the majors since the 1960s. This Fox Sports article talks about the Twins’ current crop of Latin prospects and the efforts the organization is making to develop them. Vargas is one of those quoted:

The always-smiling Vargas is quick to greet teammates and media members alike with an enthusiastic “Hola!” but he’s also proud to show off his ever-improving English skills.

My job is in the United States. I have to speak English,” Vargas said. “The fans want to listen to you and be part of their life. If they can understand you and you can talk to the fans, you can create a lot more Twins fans. . . .

Ultimately, a professional athlete’s job is marketing. Vargas is smart enough, at a young age, to understand that. Is his insistence on learning English the result of some kind of xenophobia on the part of Twins fans? Of course not:

“I always tweet English, but when I tweet Spanish, the fans ask me, ‘Hey, what does that mean?’ They go, ‘Oh, I want to know, I want to know.’ That’s cool.”

I don’t know whether Kennys Vargas is technically an immigrant. He may return to his native Puerto Rico when his career is over. But his intelligent approach to assimilation into a new culture isn’t new; it harkens back to the immigrant experience of centuries past. What worked then, works now.

Not Politics, Basketball. Worse, an Inside Joke.

You might have to be from the Upper Midwest to fully appreciate this one. My son texted me this map, which purports to show the results of an ESPN poll on Saturday’s Kentucky-Wisconsin matchup. Is it legit? I wouldn’t bet on it, but, like Homer and Shakespeare, it expresses a higher truth:


Whatever my fellow Minnesotans may think, I’m rooting for Wisconsin.

The Democrats’ Problem With the Truth

Harry Reid has laid bare, for all to see, the Democrats’ attitude toward truth: for them, it is an inconvenience at best. Lying to win is not just their strategy, it is their creed. Of course, while lying can work for a while–”If you like your plan, you can keep it!”–the day comes when people start to catch on.

That day comes faster when, like Hillary Clinton, you are a bad liar. Hillary, as I have said before, is like an inept magician: you can see the rabbit ears sticking out of the hat. Her server problems may not have been fatal for a politician with a good reputation, but in Hillary’s case, they confirmed her image as a dishonest pol. Michael Ramirez sums up how most people see Hillary. Click to enlarge:


Most voters are, I suspect, ready for Hillary; ready to give her and the rest of her corrupt, lying party the boot.

Green Weenie of the Week Needs “Corrections”

I know it’s only the first day of the month—and April Fools’ Day (which was probably intended with goofy environmentalists in mind)—but despite stiff competition we can award a coveted Green Weenie Award already.

There’s stiff competition, though. The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori, has issued the pronouncement that ignoring climate change is a sin. Yes, come to think of it, I never hear anything about climate change any more. We really must start talking about it more, and not just Sunday in church.

In the Puffington Host article reporting on the bishop’s views, she is pictured in front of row upon row of . . . empty pews. I wonder if the fitting irony occurred to anyone else besides me?

Empty pews led by vacant minds?

Empty pews led by vacant minds?

But the good bishop is overmatched by novelist Jonathan Franzen (author of The Corrections), who has offered the following confession that environmentalism really is a religious faith at its core in The New Yorker this week:

Maybe it’s because I was raised as a Protestant and became an environmentalist, but I’ve long been struck by the spiritual kinship of environmentalism and New England Puritanism. Both belief systems are haunted by the feeling that simply to be human is to be guilty. In the case of environmentalism, the feeling is grounded in scientific fact. Whether it’s prehistoric North Americans hunting the mastodon to extinction, Maori wiping out the megafauna of New Zealand, or modern civilization deforesting the planet and emptying the oceans, human beings are universal killers of the natural world. And now climate change has given us an eschatology for reckoning with our guilt: coming soon, some hellishly overheated tomorrow, is Judgment Day. Unless we repent and mend our ways, we’ll all be sinners in the hands of an angry Earth.

Beyond this astounding statement, Franzen’s article is actually an incoherent mess, as he goes on to argue that perhaps we’re overdoing it with climate change at the expense of other, near-term environmental concerns—especially . . . birds. Uh-oh—better hope the presiding bishop doesn’t hear about this.

Turns out we won’t have to give Franzen our Green Weenie, because lots of environmentalists are mad at him for daring to question the priority of climate change uber alles:

Audubon’s CEO David Yarnold said Franzen’s essay “read like some angst-ridden, Woody Allen-esque lament”.

“The whole piece is a pretty confused piece of thinking. He seems to be saying that people aren’t capable of holding two ideas in their heads at once. That they’re not capable of preserving the places that birds need now, while mitigating the threat of climate change in the future. And there’s absolutely nothing in our experience at Audubon that would lead us to believe that’s true,” he said. . .

“It was so stupid,” said John Gummer, chairman of the UK government’s Committee on Climate Change. . .

“I think he’s talking nonsense,” says former director of conservation at the RSPB Mark Avery.

Talk about corrections!

How Republicans can give Obama leverage against Iran, whether he wants it or not

Negotiations between Team Obama and the mullahs of Iran failed to result in an agreement before the supposed deadline. However, to no one’s surprise (except the Washington Post) the parties will continue to negotiate.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest intoned that “it’s time for Iran to make the serious commitments that they know the international community is expecting them to make to reach an agreement.”

Actually, it’s past that time. Literally. The administration’s stated deadline was yesterday.

The way to extract concessions is not to beg for them. Rather, one obtains concessions, if they are to be had, by demonstrating seriousness. In a case like this, one demonstrates seriousness by adhering to deadlines.

In other words, the U.S. should walk away. As any experienced negotiator knows, walking away doesn’t automatically mean an end to negotiations. If Iran is willing to make concessions, it will come chasing, in some face-facing way. If it doesn’t come chasing, this means it won’t make the concessions that are (or should be considered) necessary.

According to the Washington Post, time is of the essence for President Obama. But the essence of his timeliness concern pertains to thwarting the U.S. Congress, not to pressuring Iran:

In fact, the deadline was mostly about American politics. The Obama administration is trying to get an agreement with Iran before congressional critics have a chance to pass bills requiring their approval of any nuclear deal or imposing more sanctions on the country. Several bills are pending that would give Congress the option to reject a final accord.

Congress is out of session. It won’t return until April 14.

Congress may be on holiday, but Republican presidential politics isn’t. Bill Otis suggests that Republican candidates and potential candidates issue a joint statement that, in their view, any deal reached with Iran is not binding on the United States until the Senate ratifies it.

Unless the mullahs are overwhelmingly confident that a Democrat will win, the letter should give them pause. This might provide Obama leverage with which to negotiate a better deal. Alternatively, if there is no good deal to be had, the statement might be a deal-breaker for Iran. This would be a good outcome if, as appears to be the case, Iran won’t make the necessary concessions.

Most Republican contenders haven’t announced their candidacy yet. So the joint statement would have to be couched as coming from concerned Republicans, or some such description. The mullahs will grasp the import.

It’s possible that Rand Paul wouldn’t sign on. No problem. His decision not to sign would add clarity to the Republican race.

“Economics Is a Form of Brain Damage”

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

That slogan, which you can see on display in this 1993 full-page New York Times ad nearby, is making a comeback of sorts on the left. A generation ago it was the slogan of the environmental left, which hates the fact that we live in a world of tradeoffs, and which thinks we live in a world where the only unlimited resource is other people’s money. The late David Brower was quoting environmental activist Hazel Henderson in that expensive ad; Henderson said at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 that when the green revolution finally comes, economists would be rounded up and sent to re-education camps.

I say the slogan is “making a comeback,” though I suppose it never really went away in the general precincts on the left. But most environmentalists have grudgingly admitted the importance of economics, even if their grasp of the subject is typically at a kindergarten level. At least it’s some progress.

But as I noted here back in January, economics as an academic discipline has been the one social science most immune to the nihilism and willfulness of the PC-left. As I wrote then:

The one field in the social sciences where there is the least presence of post-modern oppression-“privilege” types is Economics, which prompts me to propose the theorem that the presence of politically correct nonsense in an academic department is inversely proportional to the emphasis placed on rigorous regression modeling.

I went on to note that the left is not happy about the resistance of economists, and were protesting at the annual meeting of the American Economics Association.

The latest installment of the leftist rage against economics comes from sociologist (stop giggling) Lisa Wade of Occidental College (where Obama attended to two years don’t forget), who argues that economists are “anti-social.”

Yep. Economics majors are more anti-social than non-econ majors. And taking econ classes also makes people more anti-social than they were before. It turns out, there’s quite a bit of research on this. . . Econ majors are less likely to share, less generous to the needy, and more likely to cheat, lie, and steal.

And you know what we do with anti-social people, right? Prof. Wade writes: “Being exposed to a variety of views, including ones that question the premises of neoclassical economics, may be one way to make economists more honest and kind.”  I’ll bet the economics department just loves her at Occidental faculty meetings.

Where is Hayek when we need him? Oh, he’s right here:

Hayek on Socialism copy

A blast of truth

Prime Minister Netanyahu has made a statement on the ongoing negotiations with Iran. The statement is a clarion call with the blast of truth. In it, Netanyahu refers to the statement by the Iran militia chief stating that Israel’s destruction is “non-negotiable.” The statement is reported here by the Times of Israel. The video of Netanyahu’s statement is below.

The Washington Free Beacon has posted this transcript:

Yesterday an Iranian general brazenly declared and I quote: ‘Israel’s destruction is non-negotiable’, but evidently giving Iran’s murderous regime a clear path to the bomb is negotiable. This is unconscionable. I agree with those who have said that Iran’s claim that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes doesn’t square with Iran’s insistence on keeping underground nuclear facilities, advanced centrifuges and a heavy water reactor. Nor does it square with Iran’s insistence on developing ICBMs and its refusal to come clean with the IAEA on its past weaponization efforts. At the same time, Iran is accelerating its campaign of terror, subjugation and conquest throughout the region, most recently in Yemen.

The concessions offered to Iran in Lausanne would ensure a bad deal that would endanger Israel, the Middle East and the peace of the world. Now is the time for the international community to insist on a better deal. A better deal would significantly roll back Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. A better deal would link the eventual lifting of the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to a change in Iran’s behavior. Iran must stop its aggression in the region, stop its terrorism throughout the world and stop its threats to annihilate Israel. That should be non-negotiable and that’s the deal that the world powers must insist upon. Thank you.