Get PJ Media on your Apple

Ed Driscoll

Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal

Spot the Correlation

August 26th, 2014 - 11:48 pm

Shot:

Chaser:

 

Earlier: How to Lose Friends and Alienate Customers.

Related: “If I have understood this ridiculous situation correctly, the EPA is now in a position in which it may have to admit in court that some of its previous official statements about ocean acidification were not supported by available evidence.”

And from Roger L. Simon: “Climate Change to the Rescue?”

Quote of the Day

August 25th, 2014 - 6:23 pm

“The only difference between the ideology of the French socialist minister and the Ferguson looter is scale. That and the immensely superior quality of the Frenchman’s comestibles. But the principles which govern both are the same. Eventually you run out of other people’s money and other people’s patience.  And that’s starting to happen all over the world right about now.”

Richard Fernandez at the Belmont Club today.

—Not to mention the same urge to declare Year Zero to banish all knowledge that came before, or what happens next. Or as the Weasel Zippers noted yesterday, “CBS Report: People In Ferguson Will Loot And Destroy Businesses Until Businesses Give Them Jobs:”

We live in an era that is more accepting of disability but still dubious about vulnerability and foibles in a leader. Would Roosevelt have made it as far as the governor’s race in 1928? In a world that second-guesses every politician’s decisions on an almost minute-by-minute basis, would he have tried?

I put both questions to Richard Moe, who knows politics — he was chief of staff for senator and then vice president Walter Mondale — and is the author of the recently published “Roosevelt’s Second Act,” an account of the president’s decision to seek a third term. Moe tells that story so well that it becomes weirdly suspenseful, even though you begin reading with a pretty good idea of who’s going to win the 1940 election.

“Whether big personalities like FDR would be inclined to pursue similar careers today is a separate question because we both know there are plenty of reasons for anyone to avoid politics today,” Moe responded in an e-mail. “That’s one of the great tragedies of the political system we have.

“But, even so, I have no doubt that someone who had many of FDR’s characteristics and abilities — to pick strong people, to see the core of an issue, to make bold decisions and to articulate them compellingly — could prevail today. In fact I think many people are hungering for his kind of leadership.

Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt asks, “Could America accept another FDR?”

Gee, I thought we already had one:

time_obama_fdr_12-24-2008-3

Certainly, our new FDR and his “New New Deal” has delivered similarly disastrous economic results as the old New Deal. Of course, perhaps leftists wouldn’t be looking a new FDR today, if they hadn’t been so quick to had the moniker to an untried tyro senator whose chief aim for expanding government was dreamed up by his speechwriters looking to trump his fellow Democrat rival for the White House on the debating circuit. But then, as Steven Hayward wrote yesterday at Power Line after Maureen Dowd finally commented on her boss’s obsession with golf, “Behold, among Obama’s hidden talents is his ability to make liberals even more foolish and incoherent than usual.”

Tina Brown Could Not Be Reached for Comment

August 25th, 2014 - 3:33 pm

“Daily Beast Slams ‘Benedict Arnold’ Burger King for Planned ‘Inversion’” via a merger with the Canadian Tim Hortons chain, Ken Shepherd writes at Newsbusters:

Patriotism may be the last refuge of a scoundrel, as Samuel Johnson put it, but a lack of it may be the last refuge of corporate executives who have run out of ideas on how to improve their business,” groused Daily Beast global finance editor Daniel Gross in the open of his 9-paragraph screed “Burger King Plots Canadian Invasion to Save His Faltering Kingdom.” “It’s one thing for a fairly anonymous company that sells pumps or valves or industrial products to other businesses to renounce its citizenship for the sake of saving a few bucks on taxes. It’s quite another when you’re an iconic American consumer-facing company that relies on fickle consumers for a large share of its business,” Gross fumed.

Gosh. Wait’ll Gross discovers that the Daily Beast, the Website he writes for, was founded by a woman who left her country of origin in search of better business opportunities, and presumably, lower taxation, eventually becoming a citizen of her newly adopted homeland. How can he work for a corporation born of such scoundrelly* origins?

* Yes, it’s a word, according to cads and bounders and scalawags at the Oxford dictionary.

Update (8/26/14): “This is Awkward:” Warren Buffett, “who President Barack Obama has lauded and named a signature proposal after, is helping finance a deal that would allow Burger King Worldwide Inc. to reincorporate in Canada and potentially reduce its U.S. tax bill through a so-called inversion, the Journal reported late Monday.”

No word yet on how former President Obama will question his supporter’s distinct lack of patriotism.

Glenn Beck: Conquering Hero?

August 25th, 2014 - 1:27 pm

“Glenn Beck’s The Blaze Talks to Time Warner About Replacing HLN,” show-biz Website The Wrap claimed on Friday:

In an ongoing effort to revamp HLN, Time Warner’s CNN has been talking to Glenn Beck‘s The Blaze as a possible partner, an individual with knowledge of the talks told TheWrap.

The Blaze is a conservative 24-hour news and entertainment network funded by subscriptions and founded by Beck, a right-wing talk show host who built a huge following on Fox.

An insider told TheWrap that The Blaze gave Time Warner two proposals, but neither went anywhere. Another individual with knowledge of the talks said the possibility of a joint venture is not dead — they’re just not active. Under the proposed partnership, Beck’s Blaze would take over HLN’s spot on the proverbial TV dial.

The Blaze is available on 70 television providers nationwide. In the first half of 2014, the distributor base for The Blaze has grown by 50 percent. TheBlaze.com, which features written content, receives more than 25 million unique visitors per month.

Early 20th century American playwright Wilson Mizner is credited with saying, “Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.”

Because no one at The Wrap has heard of Wikipedia or Google apparently, they didn’t bother to report that Beck started his cable TV career on Headline News, and then left for Fox, in part because, as he told Newsmax in 2009:

Do you know what a pariah I was? The [CNN] management  was always very good, but going around what I called ‘the pit of despair,’ the people in the newsroom that are just typing…

I was walking through the newsroom one time and [a reporter] looked up and said, ‘yuhhck!’

I said, ‘That’s not necessary.’ And she said, ‘Oh, you expect it.’ And I said, ‘I do — and isn’t that sad?’

That year, Time-Warner-CNN-HBO, Headline News’ parent organization, kicked Beck on the way out with this cover on Time magazine:

Unlike other cable TV hosts who stayed in that medium long after their sell-through date had expired, Beck left Fox News to start his Blaze Internet TV channel and Website. The risk paid off in spades — in 2011, Forbes described Beck as a “$100 million man.” So I’m sure Beck acquiring a stake in Headline News, both to compete with Fox, and for a little payback for crapping on him during his salad days. Too bad The Wrap apparently couldn’t be bothered to research any of this, as it would made their article much more powerful.

Sadly though, on Saturday, CNN-Money — and they should know, right? — claims, “Glenn Beck sought out CNN deal, but talks died fast.” Because we wouldn’t, you know, those people tuning into CNN and increasing their viewership, right? Far better to lay off 550 jobs instead and maintain ideological purity.

In 2012, Beck had previously attempted to acquire Al Gore’s Current TV, but talks fell through, because like Time-Warner-CNN-HBO, Al also wouldn’t want the wrong people watching his former channel. Which is too bad — because (a) Beck would likely bring in far more than the pitiful 17,000 viewers who are currently watching Al Jazeera America. And (b) he’d likely pay his bills faster as well. And (c) little risk of Beck’s staffers breaking out the scimitars, as well.

Related: “Not Watching For The Asteroid.”

“Bank Of America Reaches Record Settlement Over Mortgage Meltdown,” NPR reports. (Link safe, goes to the Brothers Judd blog):

The settlement “addresses allegations that Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Countrywide each engaged in pervasive schemes to defraud financial institutions and other investors in structured financial products known as residential mortgage-backed securities, or RMBS,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.

The securities typically included a high percentage of subprime mortgages and the sellers misrepresented to investors the degree of risk involved, Justice alleges. When the housing market collapsed, many of the RMBS became worthless.

Holder said the subprime mortgages bundled into the securities “contained material underwriting defects; they were secured by properties with inflated appraisals; they failed to comply with federal, state, and local laws; and they were insufficiently collateralized.”

Even so, he said, “these financial institutions knowingly, routinely, falsely, and fraudulently marked and sold these loans as sound and reliable investments. Worse still, on multiple occasions — when confronted with concerns about their reckless practices — bankers at these institutions continued to mislead investors about their own standards and to securitize loans with fundamental credit, compliance, and legal defects.”

As one of the Brothers Judd’s commenters notes:

Holder’s statement is ahistorical. BofA bought Countrywide (who no doubt did defraud) and Merrill (much less clear on fraud) at the virtual demand of the US Government.

Perhaps Eric should have asked his pals Jamie Gorelick. Franklin Raines, Jim Johnson, Rahm Emanuel, and Andrew Cuomo about mortgage standards and fraud. Or he could have checked with Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and Maxine Waters.

Exactly. Who pushed banks to the high-risk low-income housing market in the first place? But hey, government is just another word for the things we do together to wreck economies:

“‘Dead broke’ no more: Bill Clinton fancies $1,000 cigars, world’s most expensive stogie maker says,” the London Daily Mail reports:

Bill Clinton is among the clientele of the most expensive cigar make in the world, it was revealed on Thursday.

The once ‘dead broke’ former president is a connoisseur of His Majesty’s Reserve cigars, which cost $1,000 a piece, Gurkha Cigars owner and CEO Kaizad Hansotia told Bloomberg during an interview about the company.

‘Bill Clinton loves the beauties. He loves the Gurkhas,’ Hansotia said. [It's when the beauties and the Gurkhas intersect that problems for Bill can really occur -- Ed]

The Dominican Republic-made cigar is the ‘Rolls Royce of the cigar industry,’ Hansotia said, and boxes cost $25,000 a piece.

That price is set to rise to $30,000 next year. Only 20 boxes of the cognac-infused cigars are produced a year, the cigar boss said, and there’s a three-year waiting list.

The perfect cigar to light up inside your “presidential suite” hotel room, as your wife pockets up to $300,000 per speeches that position her as a formerly “dead broke” champion of income inequality. (Pun definitely intended.)

Which brings us to…“Elizabeth Warren on Hillary Clinton’s qualifications for 2016: No comment.”

Pass the popcorn. (And the Gurka.)

Oh, That Liberal Fascism

August 21st, 2014 - 1:08 pm

“Michael Brown and the paramilitarized Ferguson Police Department are two sides of the same coin,” Richard Fernandez writes at the Belmont Club:

Yesterday’s post about the inexorable expansion of government can be read in conjunction with Roger Simon’s current piece about how the Great Society laid the foundations for the riots in Ferguson.

Ironically, Michael Brown and the paramilitarized Ferguson Police Department are two sides of the same coin. They are the joint product of the politics of grievance and the growing expansion of government. The taxes that made the mobs dependent also armed the paramilitary police that contain them.   You have one government department handing out Obamaphones and another handing out MRAPs to the cops. HHS gives out Obamacare and the IRS enforces it.

A giant bureaucracy tasked with providing all “positive rights” rumbles on, even as progressive politics unleashes more “community organizers” while erecting a giant political machine to meet those same growing expectations.  It calls to and answers itself. The result on a community scale is Ferguson. The result on a national scale is Barack Obama.

Dependence is met with welfare; crime countered by replacing the family — after destroying it first — with state adoption and child protection agencies.  Two monstrous excrescences grow from the soil to dizzying heights. It was supposed to be a win-win: the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth (represented by the youths) would be governed and fed by the All-Seeing Eye of Agamotto. In charge of it all would be our very own Dr. Barack Strange Obama, who would preside over both the youths and their keepers.

And it continues apace. Soon Eric Holder will tell us whom to blame. And as Foxtrot Alpha explains, maybe systems like the “Wide Area Aerial Surveillance, the all-seeing eye in the sky that will change our lives forever” will tell us whom to find. Yet both, as Roger Simon notes, will utterly fail to spot the real culprit: the system that created this dynamic in the first place.

If only there was a book that explored the dangers of socialism run amok and how we got here.

Britain’s anti-Semitic Whiff of Weimar

August 21st, 2014 - 12:46 pm

“There is a whiff of Weimar in the air in Britain,” Douglas Murray writes in the UK Spectator:

There is a whiff of Weimar in the air in Britain. Barely a week now passes without some further denigration caused by anti-Semitic, sorry, pro-Palestine demonstrators targeting businesses run by Jews/stores selling products produced by the Jewish state. You know, like Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Starbucks and so on. Most of this fairly random targeting of whatever business sounds a bit Jewish goes unnoticed. Sometimes protestors manage to get the business closed – as with the Ahava store in liberal, enlightened Brighton. Generally they just succeed in intimidating shoppers and making it easier for people to shop elsewhere in some non-Semitic store.

Sometimes the protestors, like this young man in Manchester, are open about their feelings and taunt any nearby Jews by telling them, for instance, how highly they think of Hitler (‘I love Hitler. I’m big on my boy Hitler’ says this nicely integrated young man):

It’s quite a disgusting video, but actually Britain went Weimar almost three quarters of a century ago when in the immediate aftermath of vanquishing National Socialism in Germany, English elites decided to inflict a nationalizing socialism all their own upon the nation.

The bill is both literally and figuratively coming due, both home and abroad — such as Iraq — where, as Mark Steyn writes, “American Decapitated by Englishman,” given the accent of the terrorist who decapitated American journalist James Foley:

His executioner — the man standing next to him in the picture at right — was speaking with a British accent. That’s to say, he’s one of thousands of citizens of western nations — British, American, European, Canadian and Australian — who’ve flocked to join the planet’s coolest new gang and saw the heads off anyone who gets in their way: Christian, Yazedi, Kurd, Shia, Alawite, and, indeed, plenty of little schoolgirls in pretty pink dresses.

See also: the aftermath of those who became jaded and bored by the decadence of the original Weimar.

Blog Comment of the Day

August 20th, 2014 - 3:28 pm

“Missouri cop was badly beaten before shooting Michael Brown, says source,” according to Fox News. Glenn Reynolds adds that “The Narrative Seems to Be Breaking Down.” His first blog commenter outlines exactly what the narrative du jour is:

There seems to be a pattern: 1) unarmed young black guy is shot, 2) there is a vast media outcry over the young “honor student’s” death, 3) family provides photos of the dead guy taken when he was 11 years old, well before he had opted for the ghetto thug look, 4) it comes out that the “honor student” has been committing felonies, 5) witnesses say the honor student was beating the hell out of the person who shot him, 6) Democrat politicians call for the shooter’s conviction, and 7) prosecutors, fearing rioting, black voters, or what have you, prosecute the shooter anyway.

Have I missed anything?

And as another blog commenter writes, expect things to get worse as a result:

We will soon see an almost complete lack of Policing in inner cities following the lynching of this officer. Why on Earth would a cop risk jail for enforcing the law? Of course the people that will suffer the most are the citizens of Ferguson and similar areas. They will soon degenerate into Jungles; the biggest and most aggressive will run rampant, and rob, and beat, and kill, without fear of the law.

See also: Detroit, a quarter of a century ago.

“Bear Flag State Turns Bearish,” Steve Green writes, linking to a column on the formerly golden state at Investor’s Business Daily. Of course, for those of who still live here, our first thought is, “Turns?”

his time last year, liberals around the country were trumpeting the big fiscal comeback of the Golden State in the wake of Jerry Brown’s giant tax increase — Proposition 30.

That initiative was passed by voters on Nov. 6, 2012, and it raised the personal income-tax rate on taxpayers making over $250,000 for singles and $500,000 for married couples to as high as 13% — which is the heaviest tax penalty on working and investing in the nation outside of New York City.

What was especially devious is that the tax hit was made retroactive to January 2012. Sacramento was so desperate for money that nobody seemed to mind this after-the fact taxation is really a form of confiscation.

In the short term, it worked and revenues climbed a whopping 21% because California’s top 2% had to pay taxes twice in 2013 — once on their current-year income and a supplemental check to pay for the retroactive tax on income from the year before.

As Steve adds, “So it turns out that ‘California Comeback’ was based on smoke and mirrors.” I wouldn’t recommend smoking whatever Jerry Brown’s sycophants are puffing (just ask Maureen Dowd) and those mirrors can be be deadly:

Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair

Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.

And thus, the radical environmental left comes full circle:

Wasn’t it obvious that when Al Gore titled one of his books “The Assault on Reason,” he meant it as a how-to guide?

And finally, in other news from the socialist state, at City Journal, Rory Cohen writes, that Los Angeles’ “infrastructure crumbles as public-employee compensation balloons.” But then, that describes much of the rest of California as well, which has some of the worst roads — even NPR admits it — and the most graffiti in the nation.

Far Left Activist Calls for Mass Vandalism

August 19th, 2014 - 11:56 am

“Erica Payne, founder and president of the left-wing Agenda Project, is encouraging people to deface the cover of Paul Ryan’s new book, which is hitting shelves today,” Daniel Halper writes at the Weekly Standard:

“Hi Daniel,” Payne writes in an email. “Just a heads up, Paul Ryan’s new book comes out today and his publisher is furious! It turns out that they accidentally shipped it with the wrong cover, and they need your help to make things right.

“We have the correct cover and it’s up to us to get it on as many of his books as possible, as soon as possible. The real cover is right here. Just print it out, take it to your nearest bookstore, and place it over the book jacket. Rep. Ryan is counting on us, let’s not let him down!”

Of course, it’s a lie. Payne is encouraging people to deface Ryan’s book with this phony cover:

Click over to see the Payne’s proposed cover, which vandalizes Ryan’s book with a Photoshop of him — of course — pushing a terrified grandmother in a wheelchair. (Perhaps granny is simply frightened by the growing amount of taxes she’s paying.)

I was also spammed by Payne; as was Scott Johnson of Power Line, who writes that thanks to her proposal, “A window opens onto the left-wing mind:”

Payne is about as funny as cancer. I wrote her back:

Hi Erica: I appreciate your including me on your email distribution, but I think you are encouraging the criminal abuse of property. Are you so desperate to discourage Ryan’s ideas from seeing the light of day?

Scott

I’ll post an update if I hear back from her.

Heh. That’s a debate I’d love to observe.

To be fair, at least she’s “only” proposing mass vandalism of a book whose ideas she’s frightened of, unlike San Jose State’s Meteorology Department, which prefers to burn them.

Related: Click here to listen to my interview with Daniel Halper last week on his new book, Clinton, Inc. As we discuss, Halper has also run afoul of the left’s Thought Police with his new book.

There’s a Mobius Loop Going On

August 18th, 2014 - 4:27 pm

“Why should the crime — real or alleged — committed by person X make it okay for person Y to do harm to person(s) Z? No one has ever been able to explain that to me,” Jonah Goldberg writes, regarding the riots in Ferguson. As I mentioned earlier, the video that CNN* ran last night featuring a pregnant woman being helped with her gas mask(!) by her boyfriend/S.O./spouse or perhaps simply a helpful male fellow protester before going back to the barricades was wearing a tie-dyed T-shirt to complete the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago atmosphere.

A recurring topic here at Ed Driscoll.com is that paradoxically, for an ideology that calls itself “Progressivism,” the left is stuck in a series of intertwined and seemingly unbreakable Mobius Loops, chief among them the cargo cult of FDR and the New Deal and its enabling mechanism, the Moral Equivalent of War, as a method to circumvent the Constitution and its checks and balances on the power of government. Both of these memes are well over 80 years old, and they show no signs of ending. Whatever the state of the country in early 2017, something will be deemed to be a crisis that requires FDR-level action, if President Hillary or Elizabeth Warren takes office. No matter how old the Single Wing Offense is, it’s just not coming out of the left’s Bronko Nagurski-era playbook.

Almost as old is the American race riot, which Fried Siegel dubs “A Grotesque Pantomime of Repression and Redemption” at City Journal today. “The American understanding of riots and racial violence was shaped a half-century ago, during the insurrections of the 1960s.” As with other “Progressive” cargo cults, “To judge by the responses to the current rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, little has changed since then,” Siegel writes:

Riots bring but one certainty—enormous economic and social costs. Businesses flee, taking jobs and tax revenues with them. Home values decline for all races, but particularly for blacks. Insurance costs rise and civic morale collapses. The black and white middle classes move out. Despite its busy port and enormous geographic assets, Newark, New Jersey has never fully recovered from its 1967 riot. This year, Newark elected as its mayor Ras Baraka, the son and political heir of Amiri Baraka—the intellectual inspiration for the 1967 unrest.

The story is similar in Detroit, which lost half its residents between 1967 and 2000. Civic authority was never restored after the late 1960s riots, which never really ended; they just continued in slow motion. “It got decided a long time ago in Detroit,” explained Adolph Mongo, advisor to the jailed former “hip-hop mayor,” Kwame Kilpatrick, that “the city belongs to the black man. The white man was a convenient target until there were no white men left in Detroit.” The upshot, explained Sam Riddle, an advisor to current congressman John Conyers, first elected in 1965, is that “the only difference between Detroit and the Third World in terms of corruption is that Detroit don’t have no goats in the streets.”

As Kevin Williamson noted in What Doomed Detroit:

The concentration of poverty and related social dysfunction in its inner city, in no small part a legacy of the explosion of the city’s black population during the Great Migration, which saw Detroit’s black population soar from 6,000 in 1910 to 120,000 in 1929, and from 1.2 percent of the population in 1910 to about 30 percent of the population by [1961]. It is one of the great ironies of American history that wherever black Americans go, from the Jim Crow South to the great industrial cities, they are persecuted by the Democratic party, and then help to entrench the power of that party.

More from Siegel:

The grotesque pantomime of repression and redemption, riots and never-quite-achieved rewards, plays out time and again. The chaos in Ferguson is but the latest episode of this long, sad drama of resentment and revenge. The drama persists in part because so many journalists and academics, not to mention black activists, have so much invested in it.

And as with the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman debacle, they won’t let a little thing like facts get in the way of their narrative. But then, as Jim Treacher notes:


* And speaking of Mobius Loops, yes, it’s quite evident that CNN is thrilled that they’re out of the disappearing airplane/Anthony Bourdain travelogue rerun business for the time being.

(Apologies to Sly and the Family Stone for the headline.)

Was It Good For You?

August 18th, 2014 - 1:40 pm

“Is the U.S. economic recovery almost over — already?”, James Pethokoukis asks at The Week:

Half of America still thinks the Great Recession never ended. That, even though the U.S. economy continues to grow and add jobs.

It’s an understandable view, of course. Median family incomes are 3 percent lower today than five years ago, new jobs pay a fifth less than those lost during the downturn, and the share of adults with a job remains well below pre-recession levels. For most workers — particularly those who aren’t software engineers at Google — the Not-So-Great Recovery has been a bust.

That’s not even the worst of it. If history is any guide, we’re overdue for another recession. The average length of a post-WWII upturn after a downturn is 58 months. The current recovery, which began in July 2009, has been plugging along for 62 months. But because this recovery has been so weak, even a mild downturn, like the one after the internet stock bubble popped, could conceivably push the jobless rate back over 8 percent.

The good news? Recoveries don’t have a built-in expiration date. They simply don’t die of old age. Something bad has to happen. Often that bad thing is the Federal Reserve jacking up interest rates to keep inflation in check. But just because upturns tend to last less than five years doesn’t mean this one will.

But what could go wrong? Well, a lot.

Well, that’s comforting. In the summer of 2006 — aka, America’s good ol’ days — one economic blogger quipped, “Americans Hate Their Fabulous Economy,” two years before before the Clinton-approved Housing Bubble and the Pelosi Premium on gas prices blew up the economy in the waning days of the Bush administration. If the Obama economy slows visibly enough for even the MSM to “unexpectedly” notice, how will that play for Hillary’s presidential bid?

Oh right — she and the MSM will simply blame it all on Bush. Sorry for temporarily forgetting.

Update: To borrow from my “good ol’ days” line above, here’s a scary thought.

Dispatches From the European Civil War

August 18th, 2014 - 1:01 pm

The more things change…


The more they stay the same…


When exactly did the ceasefire in the “European Civil War” conclude?

‘Ferguson Is Not Binary’

August 18th, 2014 - 12:47 pm

“The world is not a binary place. People and events can sometimes be simple and can sometimes be complicated. Simple events can have tangentially related complicated issues involved and complicated events can have tangentially related simple issues involves,” Erick Erickson writes at Red State:

Conservatives are a law and order bunch. It is, in fact, the natural order to gather into societies and cede our individual rights of protection to a governmental body that wields the sword on our behalf. But that sword can be turned on us. As we become a society where more and more legislation and regulation causes more and more well meaning people to accidentally run afoul of laws and rules, we should be more concerned with militarizing our police and extending the jurisdictions of law enforcement agencies.

Police do a good and necessary job. But if power corrupts men and absolute power corrupts absolutely, we should be wary of putting our neighborhood man in blue in camouflage, a helmet, and an AR-15 inside an armored personnel carrier except in the most serious of circumstances.

No conservative is saying police do not need to be able to outshoot and out arm the bad guys. But many of us are saying police are more quickly than ever before resorting to playing soldier when they could accomplish the same as just a policeman.

One can view the events of Ferguson, MO and decide it was a good call to, before rioting even began, suit up the police as soldiers. But the world is not binary. Regardless of how one views the events of Ferguson, we should all be troubled by the over-militarization of routine police activity. We should all be troubled at the growing number of well documented cases of heavy handed local and state police. Being a conservative means we should support the judicious use of force. It also means that, unlike liberals who routinely turn a blind eye to the abuses of the state targeted toward their opponents, we should not simply presume the ends justify the means.

Of course, it’s important to consider what “the ends” should be, as Kevin D. Williamson noted at NRO last week:

People in places such as Ferguson, Mo., often talk about the police as though they were an occupying force, and there is, in Ferguson and in many other places, a strong racial component. During my time in Philadelphia, the city had a black mayor, a black police commissioner, and a heavily black police force, and the city’s worst crime was concentrated in two black neighborhoods. Police innovations such as sending extra patrols to schools at dismissal time were criticized by community leaders who complained that the police were “targeting” black neighborhoods. Which, of course, they were: That’s where the crime was. The police were of course in an impossible position: On the one hand, they were regarded as unwelcome intruders; on the other, they could not simply abandon those neighborhoods.

But they might seem a little bit less like an occupying force if they didn’t dress like one. If they weren’t armed like one. If they didn’t roll through like one. If they weren’t being told, and telling themselves, that they are “at war.”

And though I recognize that the police have a difficult task, they might also get a little more support from communities such as Ferguson if they were doing their job. [pioneering 19th century British law enforcement expert Sir. Robert Peel] again: “Recognize always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.”

That sound like Ferguson, Mo., to you? Or Chicago? Or Detroit? Or Los Angeles?

Related: J. Christian Adams on “‘Dehumanized’ HuffPost Reporter Ryan Reilly’s Struggle With Facts.”

And from Jim Treacher, “Mother Of The Year: Pregnant Ferguson Protestor Needs Help With Gas Mask.” (Auto-play CNN video at link.)

Love that retro tie-dyed T-shirt she’s wearing with her gas mask. Recreate ’68!

Lonesome Barry

August 18th, 2014 - 12:07 pm

Victor Davis Hanson spots Our ‘Face in the Crowd:’”

Elia Kazan’s classic A Face in the Crowd is a good primer on Barack Obama’s rise and fall. Lonesome Rhodes arises out of nowhere in the 1957 film, romancing the nation as a phony populist who serially spins yarns in the most folksy ways — confident that he should never be held to account. Kazan’s point (in the film Rhodes is a patsy for conservative business interests) is that the “folks” are fickle and prefer to be charmed rather than informed and told the truth. Rhodes’s new first name, Lonesome, resonates in the film in a way that Barack does now. Finally, an open mic captures Rhodes’s true disdain for the people he champions, and his career crashes.

Read the whole thing; A Face in the Crowd resonates in other ways — Andy Griffith’s early star turn as the manic cornpone corporatist demagogue “Lonesome Rhodes” came full circle near the end of his life, as Kathy Shaidle noted in 2010:

Usually typecast as the lovable innocent backwoods boy, Andy Griffith shocked viewers with his portrayal of Roads, an amoral drifter with a gift for gab, boundless ambition and no redeeming qualities. (That’s a true Hollywood rarity, because viewers tend to appreciate villains as long as they are charming. Perhaps only Edward G. Robinson’s stupid, humorless, sadistic Scarface (1932) character comes close to Roads in terms of sheer incorrigibility.)

Now, Griffith is shocking some folks again, many years later: he’s become a shill for Obamacare.

FactCheck.org has already done the heavy lifting in terms of, well, fact checking the claims Griffith makes in this new PSA.

But oddly enough, Media Matters et al. aren’t making any Lonesome Roads references today, even though Griffith’s new ad is more like something from A Face in the Crowd than anything Glenn Beck’s ever uttered on the air. What a surprise.

Lonesome Rhodes was inspired by the hypocrisies of Will Rogers:

After having visited Italy and interviewed Mussolini in 1926, the American humorist Will Rogers, who was informally dubbed “Ambassador-at-Large of the United States” by the National Press Club, said of the fascist dictator: “I’m pretty high on that bird.” “Dictator form of government is the greatest form of government,” Rogers wrote, “that is, if you have the right dictator.”

Griffith, apparently a life-long Democrat, made the decision to go out as his Lonesome Rhodes character, rather than beneficent public servant Sheriff Andy Taylor. As they say at David Horowitz’s Front Page

Update: Actually, I would assume the 2010-version of Griffith would have been pretty cool with this proposed reboot of his beloved 1960s sitcom.

Oceania Comes Full Circle

August 18th, 2014 - 12:00 am

“It’s hard to fathom how the president who started with the press fluffing his pillows has ended up trying to suffocate the press with those pillows.” Perhaps still coming down from overdosing on a mile high chronic-infused chocolate bar, Maureen Dowd has an all-too-rare moment of clarity:

How can he use the Espionage Act to throw reporters and whistle-blowers in jail even as he defends the intelligence operatives who “tortured some folks,” and coddles his C.I.A. chief, John Brennan, who spied on the Senate and then lied to the senators he spied on about it?

“It’s hypocritical,” Risen said. “A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin. They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

Risen points to recent stories about the administration pressing an unprecedented initiative known as the Insider Threat Program, which McClatchy described as “a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.”

Risen may be trapped in Ibsen, but Obama is channeling Orwell.

Which seems only fair, as that’s how his presidential bid began in early 2007, as Obama (through his campaign surrogate who created the video) compared Hillary Clinton to Big Brother from 1984. I’m certainly OK with the comparison of the woman who brought us Hillarycare, “It Takes a Village,” and the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy as Orwellian, but in retrospect, perhaps the man who would use Orwell’s 1984 — and the anti First Amendment policies of Woodrow Wilson, America’s pioneering fascist — as his toolbox might not have been the best person to deliver the message.

But then again, neither is a representative of the New York Times.

Wired Magazine calls for Birth Panels

August 17th, 2014 - 7:50 pm

Europe really is determined to party like it’s 1939, aren’t they? In France, shops of Jewish merchants are having the windows smashed. Meanwhile, Wired.com’s UK site is exploring another topic that was much in vogue in post-Weimar Germany right around the same time as kristallnacht. “It’s time to consider restricting human breeding”:

Given the number of children that starve each day, dwindling planetary resources and the coming transhumanist era, it might be time to consider restricting human breeding, argues futurist Zoltan Istvan in this guest post.

A few years ago, I was at a doctor party, the kind where tired residents drop by in their scrubs, everyone drinks red wine, and discussion centres around medical industry gripes. I wandered over to a group of obstetricians and listened in. One tall blonde woman said something that caught my attention: with 10,000 kids dying everyday around the world from starvation, you’d think we’d put birth control in the water.

The controversial idea to restrict or control human breeding is not new. In 1980, Hugh LaFollette, Ethics professor at the University of South Florida, wrote a seminal essay on the topic titled Licensing Parents. Since then, philosophers and even some politicians have considered the idea, especially in light of China, the most populated country in the world, implementing a one-child policy that is in effect today.

For most people in the 21st Century, however, the idea of restricting the right to have offspring for any reason whatsoever seems blatantly authoritarian.

Fancy that. Of course, the idea is much older than 1980; Zero Population Growth — often shortened to “ZPG” — was quite the buzz phrase for far left enviro-cranks in the early 1970s on both sides of the Atlantic; there was even a truly bad British movie by that name released in 1972, starring otherwise A-list British stars Oliver Reed, Geraldine Chaplin and Diane Cilento, then married to Sean Connery:

And it goes back even further than that. Just ask Margaret Sanger, pioneering eugenicist, Klan and Nazi aficionado, seen here being interviewed by Pathe News of England, shortly after World War II. By then, Sanger was using the last name of Slee, after her second husband:

As I noted back in April, talk about disastrous timing: The above clip dates from 1947. Just two years prior, a minor event, the aforementioned World War II, had been concluded, which Wikipedia notes killed 60 million people – while Wikipedia often plays fast and loose with facts, I think we can run with that estimate for the purposes of this blog post. And Margaret Sanger is calling for “no more babies” for a decade.

Madness. Or “Progressivism.” But I repeat myself.

Pages: 1 2 | 58 Comments bullet bullet

Our Recently Retired President

August 15th, 2014 - 8:19 pm

The Presidency is Breaking Obama Even As Obama Has Broken the Nation,” Peter Wehner writes at Commentary, quoting Hugh Hewitt’s recent interview with Joe Scarborough of MSNBC, who tells Hugh:

Well, you know, we had Dana Milbank on who, again, not the most right wing columnist for the Washington Post, but Dana said it’s one thing for presidents going on vacation. We’re all big supporters of presidents going on vacation. It’s another thing to be in Martha’s Vineyard while you’ve got tanks rolling in Middle America, and all the Middle East melts down. This is a president that does go out of his way to show that he’s not paying attention to what anybody says. He’s going to do exactly what he wants to do, and he’s going to be stubborn about it. He is politically, he is either politically tone deaf or he just doesn’t give a damn. And I tend to believe based on everything I’ve heard from people who work inside the White House, and we’ve got a lot of friends there, and based on my friends who are senior Democratic senators, this president has checked out.

Wehner adds:

What could possibility explain this attitude? It may be that Mr. Obama was drawn to the job not for the right reasons but because he viewed the presidency as a new mountain to climb, a prize to win, as a way to feed his unusually large ego (even for a politician). It may also be that Mr. Obama, with his presidency crumbling, is like a petulant child who wants to pick up his marbles and leave. He was fine serving as president when he was adored and well liked; now that things are going south he appears to have emotionally “checked out,” to use Scarborough’s phrase.

The problem with this is that Mr. Obama is disengaging (a) after having done extraordinary damage to America and (b) at a moment when the world is convulsing because of the void left by Obama’s (and therefore America’s) diffidence and passivity. An increasingly insouciant commander-in-chief is not what’s needed at this particular time, given the multiplying threats and increasing disorder in the world.

It’s very much beginning to look at if Barack Obama saw the presidency as primarily a way to satisfy his narcissism. What’s happened instead is the presidency is breaking him, even as he is breaking the nation.

There’s a very simple option available right now for the former president to make it official, of course:

(And to respond to the obvious rejoinder, at this point, Biden would actually be an improvement — the notion of which sums up how badly this administration has imploded.)

In any case, once the former president does leave the White House, the fun will really begin for the rest of us, Scarborough tells Hugh:

This president wants yes men around him. And again, I hear that from my Democratic friends, I hear that from his own former chiefs of staff. If anybody steps out of line, they’re immediately insulated and pushed out. You know, I said this on set after the cameras were turned off to a couple of people who I knew wouldn’t say it on the air. I said guys, you know as well as I do that the second this administration is over, the books are going to come from former secretaries of state. The books are going to come from former chiefs of staff. The books are going to come, and this president is going to have to deal with 20-30 years of disparagement from his own side, calling him one of the least effective presidents, because he’s one of the most insulated presidents.

Actually, given the amount of damage he’s inflicted on both America and the Middle East, from a punitive leftist point of view, Mr. Obama’s been an incredibly effective president. And it’s only a matter of time before his career is assessed by his fellow leftists, from that perspective.

QED.