Commentary Magazine


Topic: Antonio Villaraigosa

A Lesson in Thrift

In yesterday’s Best of the Web Today the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto highlighted an amusing (and somewhat disturbing) example of liberals’ inability to recognize thrift as a virtue.

A nice example of subtle media bias is a headline that appears over an Associated Press story at the Seattle Times website (we think the headline is the Times’s): “Education Spending: Idaho Worst; Washington Below Average.” Here’s what the story says:

“A report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Idaho remains at the bottom of public education spending.

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In yesterday’s Best of the Web Today the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto highlighted an amusing (and somewhat disturbing) example of liberals’ inability to recognize thrift as a virtue.

A nice example of subtle media bias is a headline that appears over an Associated Press story at the Seattle Times website (we think the headline is the Times’s): “Education Spending: Idaho Worst; Washington Below Average.” Here’s what the story says:

“A report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Idaho remains at the bottom of public education spending.

The [Spokane, Wash.] Spokesman-Review reports that Idaho spent about $6,800 per student for the 2010-2011 school year. Only Utah spent less, at roughly $6,200 per student.”

The headline writer was wrong to use the superlative without preceding it by “Second” or “Next to.” But more important, he used the wrong adjective. Idaho’s spending was the second-lowest, which would make it the second-best from the standpoint of the taxpayer.

But, you may ask, what about the children? Unlike recipients of cash or cash-equivalent benefits like Social Security or food stamps, you can’t measure the benefit of schools in terms of dollars. And this study makes no effort to gauge the quality of education. It could be that Idaho’s school system gives taxpayers an unusually good value for the money.

Today Los Angeles’s CBS affiliate reported on just how irresponsible its mayor had been not with the city’s purse strings (which he has been) but also with his own personal finances:

With just over a month left in his second and final term, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will leave office in June reportedly without a place to live or a car of his own to drive, according to a report published Thursday.

Outside of a rental property in Moreno Valley which brings in about $600 a month, Stewart said that Villarigosa has no major assets despite having been paid over $1.6 million during his time as mayor. Public pension information for Villaraigosa was not available, L.A. Weekly reported.

It seems some liberals are just as irresponsible with their own money as they are with taxpayers’. While that’s of little comfort to residents of Villaraigosa’s city (and state, which is facing severe financial straits of its own), it’s at least good to know that he’ll be spending some of his time upon leaving office reflecting on the importance of thrift, perhaps not so much as a politician as an average citizen.

It’s rumored that Villaraigosa is eyeing Governor Jerry Brown’s seat in 2018. If he is, residents of California must be hoping that he will have taken this lesson of the consequences of out-of-control spending to heart.

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Re: Democratic Delegates Boo “Jerusalem”

The Democratic platform once again acknowledges Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but the reinstitution of the language in question (and the reinstituted reference to God) was more alarming than the initial change. When Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for Yeas and Nays on the decision he found a roughly even split among delegates. After repeating the process two more times, a befuddled Villaraigosa was visited on stage by a party official who seemingly advised him to declare the needed two-thirds in favor of the change regardless of what the delegates actually conveyed. This he promptly did, eliciting a wave of boos.

Let the paranoia begin. For the professional alarmists who see an all-powerful Israel lobby lurking behind every bush, rock, and cloud, today’s debacle is a goldmine. What could be a greater demonstration of the Israel Lobby’s dangerous subversion of American democracy than the sham vote at the Democratic National Convention that saw pro-Israel language shoved into the party platform over the heads of party delegates?

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The Democratic platform once again acknowledges Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but the reinstitution of the language in question (and the reinstituted reference to God) was more alarming than the initial change. When Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for Yeas and Nays on the decision he found a roughly even split among delegates. After repeating the process two more times, a befuddled Villaraigosa was visited on stage by a party official who seemingly advised him to declare the needed two-thirds in favor of the change regardless of what the delegates actually conveyed. This he promptly did, eliciting a wave of boos.

Let the paranoia begin. For the professional alarmists who see an all-powerful Israel lobby lurking behind every bush, rock, and cloud, today’s debacle is a goldmine. What could be a greater demonstration of the Israel Lobby’s dangerous subversion of American democracy than the sham vote at the Democratic National Convention that saw pro-Israel language shoved into the party platform over the heads of party delegates?

The reality of the situation, however, is both more interesting and more frightening than intrepid Zionist-spotters would have you believe. Today, America got an unvarnished look at the Democratic Party’s internal conflict on Israel. Half of the Party represents the pro-Israel consensus in America. The other half? Not so much. For all the talk about the unrecognizably extreme new Republican Party, it’s the Democrats whose fringe has quietly made deep inroads into the center—especially when it concerns Israel—and fundamentally altered the nature of the Party.

When Villaraigosa heard the split vote he looked like a performer suddenly forced to work off-script—because that’s exactly what he was. The Democratic script is composed of declarations about America’s special relationship with Israel, the continued U.S. commitment to Israeli security, and the unbreakable bonds that unite Israelis and Americans against common foes. Democratic politicians can rattle off those proclamations in their sleep. What the Israel-Lobby paranoids ignore is that it’s all meant to satisfy the majority American opinion of support for Israel, not appease some shifty cabal of wealthy bigots.

Today’s fiasco might do tremendous damage to Jewish support for Democrats but it will certainly open a new chapter in anti-Israel paranoia. The Democrats, including Barack Obama, will take hits coming and going: from Israel supporters whose eyes have been opened to the nature of the Democratic Party and from Israel bashers who see the Zionist hand behind the convention chaos. Such is the price paid for a party divided.

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