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Our Hawkish ‘World War T’ Elites

On transgender bathroom access in schools, ruling class waging war on common sense

From McKay Coppins’s profile of Tucker Carlson:

“Look, it’s really simple,” Carlson says. “The SAT 50 years ago pulled a lot of smart people out of every little town in America and funneled them into a small number of elite institutions, where they married each other, had kids, and moved to an even smaller number of elite neighborhoods. We created the most effective meritocracy ever.”

“But the problem with the meritocracy,” he continues, is that it “leeches all the empathy out of your society … The second you think that all your good fortune is a product of your virtue, you become highly judgmental, lacking empathy, totally without self-awareness, arrogant, stupid—I mean all the stuff that our ruling class is.”

Preach. I’m thinking about this in context of the media freak-out over Trump rescinding Obama’s directive on transgender access to public school bathrooms and locker rooms. It never seems to occur to these elites that the Obama administration badly overreached by effectively federalizing bathroom and locker room policy. Do they really think that it’s so obvious that people should agree to let sexually mature teenage males into the bathroom and locker room with their daughters? Do they really think that this is the proper role for the federal government?

Trump didn’t order schools to cease and desist policies that permit this. He only withdrew Obama’s mandate that ran roughshod over public schools in the matter of a highly controversial, intimate decision. The Trump administration simply said that this is an issue that should be worked out at the local level. This makes sense. And yet, given the pious ardor with which elites have taken umbrage, you would think that the locker room door is the new Edmund Pettus Bridge. You have a problem with penis-havers sharing the toilet with your daughter? Bigot!

I just spent the past couple of days driving around Canton, Ohio, a Rust Belt city. Here’s a USA Today piece from last year, during the campaign, about life in Stark County, where Canton is. Excerpt:

Stark County — home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum and the National First Ladies’ Library — is particularly fertile ground for the GOP candidate’s criticism of trade deals and his vows to return jobs to the Rust Belt.

The county has lost a third of its manufacturing jobs in the past 15 years. To the extent that those jobs have been replaced, it has been with fast-food and health care positions with lower pay and stingier benefits. People don’t necessary believe that Trump can bring back those lost jobs — he can’t, and no one can — but many think he’ll make it more difficult and less attractive for employers to move jobs overseas.

Nowhere is the impact of manufacturing’s decline starker than in North Canton, where the hulking brick shell of the old Hoover vacuum cleaner plant stretches along Main Street. Founded here in 1908, Hoover once employed 3,000 unionized workers in 1 million square feet of space.

But over two decades starting in the mid-1980s, Hoover and later its new owners shifted the production jobs from North Canton to Texas, Mexico and ultimately China. Today, membership in Local 1985 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is down to 16. The union hall across the street from the plant is scheduled to close for good at the end of July.

The county’s largest and most important manufacturing employer, Timken, also faces tough times. Under pressure from activist investors, the company split into two concerns in 2014, one focused on making steel and one on bearings. The split is a long and complex story, but it provides more evidence that the system is rigged against working-class people in favor of Wall Street. Since the split, TimkenSteel, in particular, has been hurt by weak energy markets and foreign competition.

In 2008, Forbes identified Canton as one of America’s 10 Fastest Dying Cities. Nearly everyone I talked to there expressed passionate concern about the opioid epidemic, which is overwhelming resources. Just driving around the city, you can see evidence of hard, hard times. Yesterday, I drove past a scrum of men and women, black and white, standing on a street corner waiting for a bus. They all looked tired, overweight, defeated. And some of their public schools are about to take a big financial hit:

Canton Local Superintendent Steve Milano said the district, which saw its enrollment drop by 11 percent between 2011 and 2016, would receive a double hit if Kasich’s budget proposal is adopted.

He said the district still is grappling with Kasich’s phase out of the tangible personal property tax, which has translated to a $200,000 loss over the next 10 years. He said subtracting another $481,035 would significantly impact district operations.

“In order to make up losses like that, you have to look at when people retire and (ask yourself) do you replace them or not?” Milano said.

I wish Betsy DeVos, the billionaire Education Secretary who fought AG Jeff Sessions to defend the transgender bathroom mandate, would motor over to Canton, pull her limo over and ask those people how important it is to them that girls with penises be allowed to share the bathroom with their daughters.

Our elites, waging World War T, while most of America has a very different fight on its hands. In a CBS/NYT poll last May, 57 percent of Americans said that this issue should be left up to state and local governments — which is exactly the position of the Trump administration. Only 35 percent said the federal government should dictate bathroom and locker room policy in public schools.

“…highly judgmental, lacking empathy, totally without self-awareness, arrogant, stupid—I mean all the stuff that our ruling class is.” Yep.

 UPDATE: A reader commented on an earlier thread:

Did you have any time to explore Canton? It’s a perfect example of the post-industrial decay that spurred Trump’s victory. Downtown Canton is full of buildings that once were beautiful back in the late 19th through mid-20th century but are now mostly dilapidated and empty. The downtown is surrounded by shuttered factories and abandoned store fronts. The median income in Canton is below $30,000. The few people wandering around have a general air of sullen desperation. The whole atmosphere feels like visiting a country that lost a war, or possibly what it felt like to be in a once-Roman city around the year 650 AD. There’s a tremendous sense of loss.

If you visit Canton or places like it, you should be able to understand why the slogan “Make America Great Again” has resonance there. Canton used to be great. It self-evidently isn’t great anymore. It’s a shell of its former self.

UPDATE.2: Exhibit A, from the CNN correspondent:



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