Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Look! A Whole Toolkit!

This here, written by a tool employed by our friends, Peter Wehner and Yuval Levin, over at the Ethics and Public Policy Center*, and which I have copied and will save in my box-o-essays for my 1213 class next semester, can be profitably studied to see how moderately talented hacks use rhetorical tricks to tell big fucking lies.

You will note how Wehner's claims that the belief, fifteen years ago, that our culture was collapsing, arose from "diverse quarters," is followed by a citation from a leftist source, before he begins citing far-right conservatives -- thus leading his readers to believe that he is using balance in his writing. But Kazin is a moderate, and nearly every other source Wehner cites -- William Bennett, Robert Bork, the Heritage Foundation, James Q. Wilson (now at the American Enterprise Institution) -- is so far to the right, he (I choose the pronoun purposely) is in danger of falling off the edge.

More importantly, though, is what Wehner does not cite: he ignores, he omits every scrap of data that challenges his thesis.

Thus, Wehner:

Crime rates, too, benefited from something of a policy revolution over the course of the 90’s. Applying methods and concepts developed by James Q. Wilson, George L. Kelling, and others, innovators like then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in New York City and his police chief William Bratton pursued a zero-tolerance approach to crime that quickly became a model for other cities and states. Incarceration rates rose, policing improved, crime data were processed faster, criminal patterns were identified more effectively—all of which furthered the twin goals of intervention and prevention.

First, Wehner cites nothing here. Nothing. Where's his data to show that the "zero-tolerance" approach works? Second, he ignores all that work done by Steven Levitt that suggests this policy was not behind the declining crime rate. Third, he ignores the consequences of these policies he seems to find so charming. I suppose it's very easy for him to write "incarceration rates rose," but how does he think those prisons get funded? Who is staffing those prisons? Who pays the prison guards? And what, Mr. Wehner, of the lives of the prisoners? Or is this just dandy with Mr. Wehner, because they have it coming anyway?

And if we are using the money on prisons (and Iraq, I suppose) what are we not using it on?

Schools, daycares, hospitals, libraries, railroads, national parks?


Finally, notice Wehner selectively choosing his data -- he does not choose "fifteen years ago" accidentally.

Fifteen years ago, for whatever reason, the data spiked. We had a brief surge in drug use, in teen pregnancy, in crime. Who knows why? I blame Reagan, myself, who had came to power just about fifteen years before that, causing a dreadful economic decade in America, and beginning the desctruction of the American ethos, so that we had a generation of Americans growing up with no ethical background, or just terrible role models, but heh, we all have our tiny irrational issues.

That crime would rise, that people would divorce, that other people would do drugs -- this Wehner blames, you will be interested to find, on women. Not directly! Nay, he's no fool. But it's woman at the root. Women have sex and then bastards, see. Wehner cites our old friend Charles Murray, with his "rising tide of illegitimacy" and his famous crack mother on welfare boogeyman.

“Illegitimacy is the single most important social problem of our time,” he wrote, “more important than crime, drugs, poverty, illiteracy, welfare, or homelessness because it drives everything else” (emphasis added). Murray’s dictum could still be borne out in the long run; in time, the explosion of illegitimacy might undo the signs of healthy cultural revival we have charted.

Yes, let's keep the good thought, shall we? Shit knows those kids born out of wedlock are doomed! Doomed, I say!

I have to wonder if Murray has ever met any of these kids he writes so dismissively about. I've known -- I have to say, conservatively, (heh -- little pun there) -- dozens of them in my years as a professor. I also have to say when Wehner says it's family that matters, well, d'uh. But I'm thinking someone needs to send both Murray and Wehner a clue.

Why would Murray think the kids I know don't have family? Every kid I know has a family. Murray is a fuckwit if he thinks a kid with grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins and brothers and sisters and neighbors all around her does not have a family. Is Murray blind? Is he fucking stupid? Does he have no idea of what family means?

(The answer there, btw, I'm thinking? That would be (a) Yep.)

So why had America been doing better?

Clinton! We had about ten years of the economy doing okay, and people being all right because of it. That's why, you fucking fuck-up fuckwit.

People tend not to do harm to one another when they're all right, jack.

Why did abortion drop? See above.

Are kids more conservative? In your dreams, son. Talk to some once in awhile. And no, not the ones at your church, either.

What's going to happen now that your action-figure WTF King George III has destroyed the economy?

Shit knows. And FSM help us all.

*That's where Rick Santorum went so he could fight America's enemies! Because, you know, Iraq was too crowded!

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