Whatever its pretensions, whatever its claims, statism — progressivism, leftism, socialism — is based on the idea that a small elite intelligentsia can run your life better than you can. They know how to spend your money. They know how to educate your children. They know how to run your health care. They know how to protect you from yourself.
You do not have to talk to a statist very long before he will profess an intense dislike, distrust and even fear of ordinary people. Ordinary people spend money on what they want (TV’s restaurants and cars) rather than what the elite know they ought to want (aluminum foil climate change reversers). Ordinary people teach their children that God created the world rather than a random pattern of mathematic realities that came into being through another random pattern that came… well, the elite know: it’s random patterns all the way down! Ordinary people will give jobs and business to those who earn them rather than those the elite, in their greater understanding, know are historically deserving because of past oppression. And so on.
Now, of course, with the very elite of the elite running the country, we find that — what do you know? — this statism dodge doesn’t really work all that well. And there are two reasons for this. The first is that the statist premise is wrong. In fact, ordinary people left at liberty to do as they will are actually better at running their lives and businesses and country than the geniuses in Washington. Central planning works great in the imaginations of the elite, but in the real world… not so much.
And the second problem is that the elite are stupid. No, really. They’re educated and sophisticated and they dress well and speak well. They may even have high IQs. But in the immortal words of Forrest Gump’s mother: “Stupid is as stupid does.” And the elite are stupid.
Great questions make for great conversations and PJTV member “Will Do Math For Food,” asked me and Bill Whittle an excellent question: ”Is Christianity the Best Basis for Freedom?” Here’s the conversation:
I always get a bit suspicious when there’s a wide disparity between the critical reviews for a movie and the reactions of actual human beings. It quite often means the movie is favorable toward the concept of God or fails in some other way to toe the left-wing line. The critics, along with the outlets for which they work, are biased to the radical left and politics and religion distort their views.
At this writing, the new Robert Downey Jr/Robert Duvall drama The Judge has a critical rating of 47% on Rotten Tomatoes but a human rating of 81%. It also gets an excellent A-minus rating from Cinemascore, which gauges audience reaction. It’s doing only okay at the box office, but it’s up against Gone Girl, a blockbuster sucking up the air in the R-rated room. It may yet do better, and will almost certainly have a good life on DVD, streaming and the rest.
I’ve seen the film and liked it quite a lot. Maybe more of a B-plus than an A-minus. It features a fantastic cast in a solid family-courtroom drama. Both the wonderful Downey and the stupendous Duvall are working smack dab in their wheelhouses and Vincent D’Onofrio quietly turns in a slam-bang performance that nearly blows everyone else off the screen. The love, grief and anger of the central family are especially well imagined and written. One scene in a bathtub is close to classic. And the courtroom stuff works pretty well. If the whole thing fails to rise to the level of greatness (and very, very few films do), I suspect it’s because it fails to engage as honestly as it might have with its central theme, which is the balance of justice and mercy. If it had, it would have made some better decisions about its plot and characters toward the end. But that said, it’s a good and engrossing movie: over two hours, and entertaining every step of the way.
In a quick check of the reviews, I find Rolling Stone dismissed the film as “bilge”; the New York Times called it “a supershouty, macho-weepy… melodrama”; while Kenneth Turan at the Los Angeles Times is honest and considered, praising the pleasures of the movie, especially the acting, while saying the film’s “vivid and volatile core is often undercut by a weakness for middle-of-the-road sentiment and a desire to be all things to all people.” There’s some truth to that.
Hey, this is cool. The Flipside is a new comedy show with a conservative edge just making its way into some cable spaces. The host, Michael Loftus, is a charming “American Wiseass,” to quote himself. And his guest on this episode is an absolute delight… oh, all right, it’s me. But it’s fun stuff, worth watching:
I’m proud to say my son Spencer has an absolutely beautiful op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times. Genuinely profound stuff:
I sometimes fear I am coming of age in a dying republic. Everywhere I turn the foundational values of America — open discourse, constitutional integrity, restricted government — seem to be eroding.
What’s a young constitutionalist to do? I study ancient history, so I know nothing lasts forever: Republics have fallen before. But when they do, republicans like me have to fight back. That fight matters even if it’s destined to fail.
The New York Timeseditorial board — a motley collection of knuckleheads — is wrestling mightily with the fact that everything they believe just happens to be untrue. Most especially, all that end-the-war-in-Iraq stuff hasn’t turned out as well as they hoped and their militant-Islam-is-no-worse-than-any-other-religion meme is beginning to seem a bit shaky and, oh yeah, even though there’s no such thing as evil, these ISIS guys look suspiciously like what evil would look like if it were, you know, evil.
What’s a Times knucklehead to do?
In an editorial last week titled “The Fundamental Horror of Isis“ the Timesmen set out to correct their formerly errant course and try to become wrong in a whole new way. Speaking of the misbehaviors of those naughty ISIS folks, the editorial board declared:
To claim that this savagery is rooted in a certain people or a certain religion is to forget that the great atrocities of our age have been perpetrated on different continents by people professing different ideologies and different religions. Before the Islamic State there was Rwanda, and the Lord’s Resistance Army and the killing fields of Cambodia, and before that, in Europe, the Holocaust.
Comparisons are meaningless at this level of evil, as are attempts to explain the horror by delving into the psychology or rationale of the perpetrators.
A bad idea whose time, unfortunately, seems to have come: GOP adman Vinny Manchillo has produced a commercial called “Republicans are People Too!” You will not be surprised to learn Manchillo is a former Mitt Romney media advisor. There’s something to put on your resume! It’s like saying you taught at the charm school that produced Alec Baldwin.
Poor strategy aside, the most nauseating characteristic of the commercial is its transparent disingenuousness.
“Republicans drive Priuses.”
“Republicans read the New York Times.”
“Republicans have feelings.”
For the record, Republicans do not drive Priuses. No self-respecting Republican would be caught dead in that wimpy monument to secular eschatology. In fact, the only arguably Republican hybrid automobile is the Lamborghini Countach — a hybrid in that it burns both gasoline and motor oil. Conservative satirist P.J. O’Rourke’s essay, “How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink,” gives better insight into Republican driving habits than senseless cant about the Prius.
That’s not even the best part. Read the whole thing here. It’s definitely worth it.
For my money, PJ Media’s own Andrew C. McCarthy is one of the very best writers on the Islamist threat as seen from the west. Relentlessly honest and deeply informed, he avoids sweeping generalizations and any hint of bigotry but never turns his eyes from the truth of the situation. If you haven’t read his recent NRO article, “The Khorosan Group Does Not Exist,” you really should. It vivisects the presidential narrative of what’s happening in the Middle East. By listing and sometimes inventing names for small Islamist splinter groups, the president, McCarthy says, is trying to rewrite reality to show that he has “dealt decisively with the terrorist threat, rendering it a disparate series of ragtag jayvees.”
There is a purpose behind this dizzying proliferation of names assigned to what, in reality, is a global network with multiple tentacles and occasional internecine rivalries… Obama has not quelled our enemies; he has miniaturized them. The jihad and the sharia supremacism that fuels it form the glue that unites the parts into a whole — a worldwide, ideologically connected movement rooted in Islamic scripture that can project power on the scale of a nation-state and that seeks to conquer the West. The president does not want us to see the threat this way.
“For a product of the radical Left like Obama,” McCarthy added, “terrorism is a regrettable but understandable consequence of American arrogance. That it happens to involve Muslims is just the coincidental fallout of Western imperialism in the Middle East, not the doctrinal command of a belief system that perceives itself as engaged in an inter-civilizational conflict.”