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Ed Driscoll

Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal

“Over the past decade, Americans have clustered into three broad groups on global warming. The largest, currently describing 39% of U.S. adults, are what can be termed ‘Concerned Believers’ — those who attribute global warming to human actions and are worried about it. This is followed by the ‘Mixed Middle,’ at 36%. And one in four Americans — the ‘Cool Skeptics’ — are not worried about global warming much or at all,” Gallup reports.

Isn’t everyone skeptical of global warming? Barry and Kerry can’t take it too seriously when they’re jetting everywhere on Boeing 747s, and Al Gore declared the movement over when he sold out to Big Oil-fueled Qatar. The EPA can’t take it too seriously, since they’re similarly jetting their staffers all around the country. NBC can’t take it too seriously, since they pay to run NASCAR races. CBS can’t take it too seriously, since they run shows devoted to the joys of high-carbon ’60s muscle cars. ABC can’t take it too seriously: parent company Disney makes its money in non-essential amusement parks and the merchandising of oil-based polystyrene toys. (Not the least of which are oil-based polystyrene toys devoted to the joys of oil-based high carbon vehicles.) Sister channel ESPN regularly devotes coverage to NASCAR and other high-carbon leisure time activities. Hollywood can’t take it too seriously because they haven’t ended their industry to help save the planet. (Not to mention the grossly hypocritical lifestyle of the wealthiest celebrities who feign an eco-obsession to assuage their guilt.) Time-Warner-CNN-HBO can’t worried much about global warming at all, if they send Kate Upton up in a jet aircraft — the “Vomit Comet,” as NASA calls it — just to take a few photos of her in zero-gravity.

To paraphrase the Insta-professor, more people might take the rantings of radical environmentalists more seriously, if the people who preach radical environmentalism first lived the lifestyle they espouse for the rest of us. Otherwise, it’s pretty obvious that their goal is to further what James Delingpole of Ricochet and Breitbart UK, whom I recently interviewed, dubs “The Drawbridge Effect.” Leftwing wealthy elitists have theirs; they want to dramatically reduce the odds that anyone else will succeed on a similar level. Or as Daniel Shuchman of the Wall Street Journal notes in his review of Thomas Piketty’s Marxist update, “An 80% tax rate on incomes above $500,000 is not meant to bring in money for education or benefits, but ‘to put an end to such incomes.’”

Elites’ Sacrificial Victims

April 22nd, 2014 - 3:32 pm

Victor Davis Hanson writes, “When your goal is to save the planet, you can’t worry about who may get hurt:”

Why do our well-meaning elites so often worry about humanity in the abstract rather than the real effects of their cosmic ideologies on the majority? The dream of universal health coverage trumped the nightmare of millions of lives disrupted by the implementation of it. Noble lies, with emphatics like “Period!” were necessary to sell something that would hurt precisely those who were told that this was going to be good for them. A myriad of green mandates has led to California’s having the highest-priced gasoline and electricity in the continental United States, a fact that delights utopians in San Francisco and in the long run might help the rest of us, but right now ensures that the poor of the state’s vast, hot interior can scarcely afford to cool their homes or drive to work. Fresno on August 1, after all, is a bit warmer than Berkeley or Menlo Park.

In a word, liberal ideology so often proves more important than people. Noble theories about saving humanity offer exemption from worry about the immediate consequences for individual humans. In a personal sense, those who embrace progressive ideas expect to be excused from the ramifications of their schemes. For the elite who send their kids to prep schools and private academies, public charter schools for the poor are bad, given that they undermine the dream of progressive, union-run education that has turned into a nightmare for those forced to enroll in it.

The notion that elites, well-meaning or otherwise, “worry about humanity in the abstract rather than the real effects of their cosmic ideologies on the majority,” certainly isn’t a new one. In November of 2009 at the New Criterion, Anthony Daniels (aka Theodore Dalrymple) explored “The costs of abstraction — On the intellectual irresponsibility of Soviet sympathizers:”

In a desultory kind of way, I have collected, over the years, many books about the Soviet Union published in Britain, France, and America during the 1920s and 1930s. They are not by any means overwhelmingly pro-Soviet, with titles such as Soviet Russia Fights Crime, The Protection of Women and Children in the Soviet Union, and Soviet Russia Fights Neurosis (in which, published at the height of the famine, are found the immortal words, “The greatest and most far-reaching values of the Soviet dictatorship are psychological and spiritual”); on the contrary, many of these books give the most compelling evidence of all the horrors of the Soviet Union, all of them now attested and accepted as being true.

My little collection has led me to the conclusion that the Soviet Union was valued by contemporary intellectuals not for the omelette, but for the broken eggs. They thought that if nothing great could be built without sacrifice, then so great a sacrifice must be building something great. The Soviets had the courage of their abstractions, which are often so much more important to intellectuals than living, breathing human beings.

Leftwing ideology and a love of abstractionism caused intellectual elites to look the other way at the eggs being broken in the Soviet Union. (Other than Orwell, who famously asked, “But where is the Omelette?”) No wonder they can avert their eyes so easily to the slow-motion rolling disaster of Obamacare.

Or heck, the original sin of today’s eco-holiday:

Related: If you haven’t read it yet, don’t miss Victor Davis Hanson’s PJM column yesterday on “Cliven Bundy and The Rural Way,” with an assist from VDH’s rough-hewn grandfather, and his horse named — of course — Paint.

trek_facepalm_5-14-13

Or, Two NBCs in One!

The connection between slavery and fossil fuels, however, is more than metaphorical. Before the widespread use of fossil fuels, slaves were one of the main sources of energy (if not the main source) for societies stretching back millennia. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, nearly all energy to power societies flowed from the natural ecological cascade of sun and food: the farmhands in the fields, the animals under saddle, the burning of wood or grinding of a mill. A life of ceaseless exertion.

Let me pause here once again to be clear about what the point of this extended historical comparison is and is not. Comparisons to slavery are generally considered rhetorically out of bounds, and for good reason. We are walking on treacherous terrain. The point here is not to associate modern fossil fuel companies with the moral bankruptcy of the slaveholders of yore, or the politicians who defended slavery with those who defend fossil fuels today.

In fact, the parallel I want to highlight is between the opponents of slavery and the opponents of fossil fuels. Because the abolitionists were ultimately successful, it’s all too easy to lose sight of just how radical their demand was at the time: that some of the wealthiest people in the country would have to give up their wealth. That liquidation of private wealth is the only precedent for what today’s climate justice movement is rightly demanding: that trillions of dollars of fossil fuel stay in the ground. It is an audacious demand, and those making it should be clear-eyed about just what they’re asking. They should also recognize that, like the abolitionists of yore, their task may be as much instigation and disruption as it is persuasion. There is no way around conflict with this much money on the line, no available solution that makes everyone happy. No use trying to persuade people otherwise.

MSNBC talking head Chris Hayes in The Nation today. Link safe; goes to Twitchy, where Twitter users are wondering if Hayes was intoxicated from, presumably, non-petroleum-based spirits, when he wrote the above and Tweeted:

Wait’ll Chris discovers how his bosses make their money:

NASCAR has finalized the other half of its next long-term TV contract with NBC and severed future broadcast ties with ESPN and Turner Sports.

NBC and Fox will share rights to the Sprint Cup Series beginning with the 2015 season.

NBC and NASCAR agreed to a contract that runs from 2015-2024, but didn’t release financial terms of the deal.

NBC picks up the last 20 of a scheduled 36 points Sprint Cup races, and they could air Sunday afternoons as a lead-in to Sunday Night Football. Fox and NBC will share TV rights to the Nationwide Series, which has aired on ESPN since 2007 ABC and ESPN began a NASCAR deal in place of NBC.

— “NBC returns to NASCAR in deal that runs through 2024,” USA Today, July 23rd, 2013.

OK Chris, here’s your action plan. If indeed there are “parallels between the abolition of slavery and today’s climate fight,” then your mission is to barge into the NBC boardroom and convince them to drop NASCAR coverage. And the NFL — all those charter flights to the games, and the Goodyear Blimp circling around overhead at the stadium — those will have to be dropped from coverage. And no car chases in cop shows, unless it’s hot Prius on Prius action. And no stretch limos for NBC, CNBC and MSNBC execs and the on-air talent. No helicopters or jet flights for the news team.

Do all that, have NBC sign off on it, then get back to us. If you’re going to accuse your bosses of the moral equivalent of slavery (Because Al Gore took the moral equivalent of the Holocaust decades ago, I guess), you must force them to stop.

Do it for Gaia, man. Do it for Gaia.

On the other hand, somebody else at the Nation has a much better handle on things: “Let This Earth Day Be The Last:”

F*** Earth Day.

No, really. F*** Earth Day. Not the first one, forty-four years ago, the one of sepia-hued nostalgia, but everything the day has since come to be: the darkest, cruelest, most brutally self-satirizing spectacle of the year.

F*** it. Let it end here.

Works for me; as Kathy Shaidle joked when she forward the above link, “Iowahawk, is that you…?”

Related: “Hard. Core.”

More: Heh, indeed:

Update: “The message to the carbon industry seems to be: You are surrounded. Give up. Don’t make us shoot,” Byron York notes at the Washington Examiner, unpacking the violence lurking just underneath what York describes as Hayes’ “radical ‘climate justice’ manifesto.”

Which would perfectly square the circle, as it wasn’t that long ago that MSNBC was declaring violent metaphoric imagery as racist.

In the late 1960s, when the left had an aneurism over the election of Richard Nixon, and doomsdayers such as Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren, who now serves as Mr. Obama’s “Science” “Czar,” began obsessing over overpopulation, their timing at least made a certain amount of sense. Much of the west was feeling relatively happy as the post-World War II boom trundled on; having only discovered mechanized flight 65 years prior, man was about to land on the moon, and the prospect of exploring other planets seemed likely on the horizon. (Perhaps even colonizing them, which would certainly have been one solution to overpopulation.)

But the immediate post-World War II years were nowhere near as happy; Britain maintained food rationing for nearly a decade after the war ended. Reconstruction in the shattered post-fascist continent of Europe was even more painful. Which would seem to be a rather unlikely time to discuss reducing the population even further, even for one of the most prominent eugenicists of the 20th century.

As part of its mammoth collection of newsreels, the British Pathé organization has uploaded 85,000(!) clips to YouTube, running from 1896 to 1976.  As Eric Owens of the Daily Caller notes, in one of those clips, “American birth control activist Margaret Sanger (here called Margaret Slee, which was her second husband’s name) sternly demands that the women of the world have ‘no more babies.’”

The snippet was filmed at the Dorchester Hotel in London. Sanger was the president of the America Planned Parenthood Federation at the time. That organization has since evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a nonprofit organization that to this day advocates heavily for abortion.

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.

Update: It wasn’t just World War II that had thinned out mankind. “The world was certainly not overpopulated, not after the Soviet famine, not after the Nazis and the Holocaust,” Bryan Preston adds at the PJ Tatler. And as Thomas Hine wrote in Populuxe, his terrific 1986 book on postwar American aesthetics, “The Decade of the Depression had produced the lowest American birthrate in the country’s history and the smallest increase in absolute population since the decade of the Civil War. The first half of the 1940s, when so many men were at war, continued the slow population growth.”

Sanger wanted to collapse those numbers even further. As Bryan notes, both Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton have proudly accepted awards named after Sanger, with Hillary adding, “I am really in awe of her.”

It was necessary to depopulate the village that it takes, in order to save it.

Humble Pie, Served Good and Hard

April 21st, 2014 - 12:35 pm

“Kate Humble: We don’t value food because it’s not expensive enough,” screamed a headline at the far left UK Guardian, which was catnip to the Drudge Report. I know nothing of Humble’s politics, as I had never heard of her before the Drudge link. But I’m assuming if the Guardian is writing favorably about her, and she’s employed as a show host by the far left and equally reactionary BBC, she shares their worldview, while staring out upon, as the Guardian notes, “her 117-acre former council farm in Trellech, Monmouth, which she runs with her TV director husband Ludo Graham.”

In response to her Guardian profile, blogger Christopher Fountain writes, “I’m not exactly sure of the value of 117 acres of farmland in England, nor what the combined salaries of a TV director and a ‘television personality’ amount to, but I’m fairly certain that Miss Humble doesn’t live on the same income as the great unwashed she demands pay up. Isn’t it always that way?”

Yes indeed. And she’s about to get her way, at least in the US. “Alert shoppers are accustomed to watching food prices go up and down. But a string of forces—from droughts to diseases—is raising the cost of a trip to the grocery store at a rapid clip,” CNBC reported on Saturday, adding that “it looks like it will be a while before the price pressure eases:”

Consumers are also coping with higher costs beyond their supermarket shopping cart. After a brutal winter in much of the country kept shoppers home, a pickup in demand has sent clothing and used car prices higher in March.

Rents are also going up in most of the country, up 2.7 percent in the latest 12-months, a pace not seen since the housing market collapsed in 2007. Medical costs are also rising.

Because food prices are typically more volatile than other consumer costs, economists and policy makers at the Federal Reserve usually ignore them when looking at the so-called “core rate” of inflation. But after a long period of inflation running less than 2 percent a year, the latest surge in prices bears closer watching, according to Capital Insight senior economist Paul Dales.

“We suspect that core inflation will rise to 2 percent this year and beyond it next year, which would catch the Fed off guard,” he wrote in a recent note to clients.

Humble’s quote about food not being “expensive enough” sums up the 21st century state of the increasingly paradoxically named ideology that calls itself “Progressivism” rather well.

As Fred Siegel wrote in his new book, The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class, “The best short credo of liberalism came from the pen of the once canonical left-wing literary historian Vernon Parrington in the late 1920s. ‘Rid society of the dictatorship of the middle class,’ Parrington insisted, referring to both democracy and capitalism, ‘and the artist and the scientist will erect in America a civilization that may become, what civilization was in earlier days, a thing to be respected.’”

But those politicians who espoused liberal and progressive values in the first 65 years of the 20th century at least knew enough that if they wanted to get elected, they needed to pay lip service to ideas that would benefit the working man and in theory, make his life easier. Sure, it was mostly nonsense, but at least, unlike “progressive” intellectuals, they weren’t overtly punitive towards the working class. Today, their modern counterparts publicly espouse the notion of driving up prices. Barack Obama, running for the presidency in January of 2008, blurted out to the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle that he wanted to bankrupt coal companies and “under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Well gee, thanks for that one, Barry.

At the end of 2008, at the peak of his popularity, comfortably ensconced in the command chair of the mighty Office of the President Elect, Mr. Obama deigned to grant an interview with Tom Brokaw of NBC. Brokaw begged the president elect to increase gas taxes, driving those prices up as well. (Gee, thanks for looking out for us, Tom.)  And “unexpectedly” moving in unison, as if in lockstep (paranoid folly, I know), the New York Times, the Washington Post and eventually CNN all agreed!  Why yes, it would be a good thing if the American people paid more for their gasoline. Perhaps these scrappy, populist hardscrabble journalists were simply echoing the thoughts of Steven Chu, who would become Obama’s “energy” secretary who gave the game away to the Wall Street Journal in September of that year, when he openly told them that “Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

They were followed by several wealthy members of the left who espoused higher taxes — but curiously, when confronted about paying more themselves, were rather less sanguine about the notion:

As Joel Kotkin noted this weekend in the Orange County Register, when it comes to taxes, “Clearly, something needs to change, and, ironically, one wonders where the class warriors of the Left are on this. They have become increasingly bold (or honest) in stating that we should continue raising taxes on the middle and upper-middle classes, as a recent New Republic piece suggests, but seem less than vehement about equalizing taxes on capital gains and other income.”

Meanwhile, here in the Northern California Bay Area, as Thomas Sowell wrote in 2005, when it comes to our own local skyrocketing home prices, “The people who vote on the laws which severely restrict building, create costly bureaucratic delays, and impose arbitrary planning commission notions will not have to pay a dime toward the huge costs being imposed on anyone trying to build anything in the San Francisco Bay area. Newcomers get stuck with those costs.”

The result are Levittown-style one-story ranchers that can sell upwards of $750,000. “One of the middle-class communities in the county is Foster City, a planned community built back in the 1960s. When the first homes went on sale there in 1963, you could buy a three-bedroom house for as little as $22,000. If you wanted something bigger or more fancy, or in a more scenic location, you could still get it for under $50,000,” Sowell writes. “Today, the average price of a home in Foster City is $1.2 million.”

The left’s “solution?” Build lots and lots of high-density apartment complexes so dense that THX-1138 would feel claustrophobic from the amount of neighbors living cheek-to-jowl next to him.

And then there’s Obamacare, where the famous rejoinder, “if healthcare is expensive now, just wait until it’s free” is being played out on a daily basis, for millions of Americans to see. And if you don’t like it — tough, says MSNBC’s resident uber-marxist, Melissa Harris-Perry:

You know — Democrats. You know, the same party that passed and defended and implemented the most sweeping social policy in decades, who can say that millions of people now have affordable health insurance that they didn’t have before. And they’re not even owning it. No confidence, no swagger. No, “Yeah, you can’t keep your crappy plans. Just deal with that!”

Please, run with that approach this fall, Democrats. Run with it hard.

And now we have someone espousing higher food prices. Somewhere just offstage, Norman Borlaug (1914-2009) must be weeping:

In the late 1960s, most experts were speaking of imminent global famines in which billions would perish. “The battle to feed all of humanity is over,” biologist Paul Ehrlich famously wrote in his 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb. “In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” Ehrlich also said, “I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971.” He insisted that “India couldn’t possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980.”

* * * * * * * *

Contrary to Ehrlich’s bold pronouncements, hundreds of millions didn’t die in massive famines. India fed far more than 200 million more people, and it was close enough to self-sufficiency in food production by 1971 that Ehrlich discreetly omitted his prediction about that from later editions of The Population Bomb. The last four decades have seen a “progress explosion” that has handily outmatched any “population explosion.”

Borlaug, who unfortunately is far less well-known than doom-sayer Ehrlich, is responsible for much of the progress humanity has made against hunger. Despite occasional local famines caused by armed conflicts or political mischief, food is more abundant and cheaper today than ever before in history, due in large part to the work of Borlaug and his colleagues.

Evidently, Kate Humble presumably thinks this was all a terrible mistake. And as the examples above highlight, she’s not alone amongst the reactionary left, who seek to give to the middle class good and hard, as Mencken would say.

Related: “Puerto Rican peanut butter” and “The tyranny of the organic mommy mafia.”

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“I’m not a scientist and actually given what I’ve seen of scientists in my experiences following the global warming scam, I’m glad I’m not a scientist because a lot of these guys are basically shysters and crooks. They’re not some kind of white-coated elite with a special hotline to the truth. In fact, they’re just ordinary guys and girls trying to earn a living like the rest of us but slightly more dodgily than the rest of us in the one or two egregious cases,” James Delingpole of Ricochet.com, the UK Spectator and the executive editor the newly launched Breitbart London tells me in our latest interview. And that’s one of the kinder things that the author of The Little Green Book of Eco-Fascism:  The Left’s Plan to Frighten Your Kids, Drive Up Energy Costs, and Hike Your Taxes has to say on the subject. He’ll also discuss:

● If Mark Steyn loses his lawsuit to Michael Mann, who gets the top bunk in their cell at the Global Warming Stalag, James or Mark?

● The concept of the “Friendly Lawsuit,” and how it helps to explain that the left is nothing but Potemkin Villages, all the way down.

● Prying open “The Drawbridge Effect” to see what’s inside Al Gore’s and Thomas Friedman’s mansions.

● How can the media alternately tell us the world is coming to an end in five years if we don’t radically change our lifestyles, then cheerfully promote high-carbon footprint pro sports, such as the NFL and NASCAR?

● What’s the background behind the big “Climategate” scandal of 2009, and where does it stands today?

● How James both discovered American politics while living in England and joined the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

And much more. Click here to listen:

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(27 minutes, 5 seconds long; 24.7 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 7.72 MB lo-fi edition.)

Note that there was a bit of distortion in the first minute or two of our interview, as I had my recording program initially dialed up to 11 in anticipation of the long distance call. I used my trusty Izotope RX application to clean up most of it, but traces of it remain. After the first minute or so, the sound quality settles down nicely.

If the above Flash audio player is not be compatible with your browser, click on the video player below, or click here to be taken directly to YouTube, for an audio-only YouTube clip. Between one of those versions, you should find a format that plays on your system.

Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.

 

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Pangender’s Game

April 17th, 2014 - 3:27 pm

“Adventures in Gender Neutral Bathrooms,” a recent post at the College Fix blog, is the launching pad for Roger L. Simon’s latest article at PJM, “College: The Sixty-Five Thousand Dollar Misunderstanding:”

And the cost of this misunderstanding has expanded exponentially  - to sixty-five thousand dollars!  That’s the current approximate total for room, board and tuition at many of our finest private universities for those considered “fortunate” enough to be able to pay the full amount.  For others it can be anything from ten to forty grand, still a princely amount.

And what are we parents getting for this (besides broke)?  The College Fix’s editor Nathan Harden gives us a look in a report today — “Adventures in Gender Neutral Bathrooms” — that begins:

When you really have to pee at Columbia University, there is one question that must be answered before you can go: What is my gender today?

If you are biologically male, for instance, but feel like a female, you may feel the need to use the ladies restroom. And why shouldn’t you? If the girl in the stall next to you doesn’t like to take her pants down next to a man she doesn’t know, that’s just evidence of her hetero-normative bigotry. That’s why the Obama administration ruled in 2012 that dudes who feel like ladies have a right to use the women’s bathrooms on campus, no matter how unsafe that makes the women on campus feel.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have anything against everyone  having his, her or [question mark's] bathroom.  In fact, I read in Slate there are now fifty-six genders on Facebook and  if they each want their own baths, or to share forty-eight of them,  I say knock yourselves out. But — excuse me for being heteronormative or, worse than that, for using caps — I DON’T WANNA PAY FOR IT!!! — either via taxes or tuition.

If you missed it, the Slate article from February that Roger links to is an astounding bit of sophistry, but just when you thought it was safe to venture out of the multi-gendered bathroom, comes word from “Think” “Progress” that the very air that you breathe is — of course! — racist. (Link safe, goes to Twitchy):

A study produced by the University of Minnesota concluded that race is a determining factor in who is most affected by air pollution. Specifically, non-white people breathe air that is substantially more polluted than the air that white people breathe.

According to Julian Marshall, who led the University’s research, race outweighed income in regards to who is most affected by poor air quality. When low-income white people were compared to high-income Hispanic people, the latter group experienced higher levels of nitrogen dioxide. Altogether, people of color in the U.S. breath air with 38 percent more nitrogen dioxide in it than their white counterparts, particularly due to power plants and exhaust from vehicles.

The creator of Twitchy proffers a modest proposal:


Pro-PRC spokesman Thomas Friedman says it’s a remarkably enlightened place to live. Just be sure to pack a (gender neutral) gas mask.

In related news

Gore cited two “game changers” in recent years that will help. The first is the growing realization from even climate-change deniers that something seems to be strange with the weather. The second is the exponential growth in photovoltaic solar panels, driven largely by consumer demand for lower prices.

The “barriers” to doing something about climate change are business and political interests that profit off of fossil fuels — “dirty energy that causes dirty weather.” He compared fake science from polluters stating that humans are not to blame for the climate to tobacco companies that used to hire actors to play doctors who denied cigarettes were dangerous.

“That’s immoral, unethical and despicable,” he said of both.

Says the immoral, unethical and despicable man whose business and political interests profit off of fossil fuels.

Finally, one more from the indoctrination camps formerly known as academia: “Where’s the feminist anger at Brandeis over Ayaan Hirsi Ali?” In the eye of the hurricane, whipping it up, writes Stacy McCain.

Workers Versus Takers

April 16th, 2014 - 11:49 am

“86M Full-Time Private-Sector Workers Sustain 148M Benefit Takers,” Terence P. Jeffrey writes at CNS News.com:

All told, including both the welfare recipients and the non-welfare beneficiaries, there were 151,014,000 who “received benefits from one or more programs” in the fourth quarter of 2011. Subtract the 3,212,000 veterans, who served their country in the most profound way possible, and that leaves 147,802,000 non-veteran benefit takers.

The 147,802,000 non-veteran benefit takers outnumbered the 86,429,000 full-time private sector workers 1.7 to 1.

How much more can the 86,429,000 endure?

As more baby boomers retire, and as Obamacare comes fully online — with its expanded Medicaid rolls and federally subsidized health insurance for anyone earning less than 400 percent of the poverty level — the number of takers will inevitably expand. And the number of full-time private-sector workers might also contract.

Eventually, there will be too few carrying too many, and America will break.

Something that can’t go on forever won’t, to coin a phrase.

God and Tania at Yale

April 15th, 2014 - 8:16 pm

Cults In Our Midst: Patty Hearst And The Brainwashing Of America,” examined by Stella Morabito at the Federalist:

The Fundamental Transformation of Patty Hearst

So that’s what it looked like to an impressionable, politically unseasoned contemporary. But what was going on in the background?

Hearst’s 1983 book Every Secret Thing describes the kidnapping and the aftermath in meticulous, ghastly detail. Hearst also granted a fascinating interview with Larry King in 2002.

For several weeks, she was blindfolded, confined to a smelly closet, tormented, periodically raped, and subjected to a coarse Maoist style program of indoctrination and re-education. Her life depended on anticipating and meeting the demands of her captors. The leader Donald “Cinque” DeFreeze and the others propagandized and interrogated her constantly, explaining that “Amerikkka” was a racist and evil society, repeatedly calling her a privileged “bourgeoise bitch” and her father a “pig” of the “corporate fascist state.” But then her captors would let up a bit, offering food or tea—then continue more intensely with cruelty and degradation.

This cycle—isolation, threats, and humiliation, punctuated by a little peace (reward) for compliance—broke down Hearst’s sense of self. As she later told Larry King, “Most of the time I was with them, my mind was going through doing exactly what I was supposed to do… I had no freewill.”

So pretty much like life at the average elite university, minus the increasingly swanky dorms — which if you read on, is sort of Morabito’s point. No wonder they morphed into Occupy gangs so easily.

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Update: Once successfully brainwashed, it is necessary to re-educate the victim about the basics of society — and reality in general — at an extremely slow pace, lest potentially debilitating shock and trauma occur.

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In response to self-hating Democrats discovering themselves awash in Koch Brothers money, as Thomas Lifson writes at the American Thinker, “Glenn Reynolds realized the electoral gold. He suggested (in his trademark all-caps):”

“I SUGGEST RUNNING THIRD-PARTY ATTACK ADS TO ENCOURAGE DEM VOTERS TO STAY HOME.”

As Lifson writes, “Brilliant! The ads practically write themselves:”

Mary Landrieu’s Majority Leader says the Koch Brothers are un-American. embedded by Embedded Video
Download Video . So why did Mary accept $11,000 from Koch employees? Louisiana voters deserve better.

Rick Moran points out that Democrats used this tactic to great effect in 2012, driving down GOP turnout by 3 million.

Best of all, this sort of ad can be funded by 510 c 4 organizations, as voter education. No need to advocate a specific candidate. So, potentially, the Koch Brothers could  write the checks to blanket states and districts with vulnerable Dems.

Via Truth Revolt and the Weasel Zippers, here’s the list of potential candidates to target:

koch_to_dems_4-14-14

 

Pompeii With Jet Packs

April 15th, 2014 - 11:48 am

“From the Ford Mustang to colonies on the moon: Predictions that the 1964 World’s Fair got right… and what it got very wrong,” offered up by the London Daily Mail. Though I’m not sure I agree with all of their choices for what the 1964 World’s Fair got right:

At the Bell System pavilion, engineers touted a ‘picturephone’ that allowed callers to see who they were talking to, a concept that lives on in modern-day apps such as Skype and FaceTime.

At the time, though, picture phones didn’t take off, said Lori Walters, history professor at the University of Central Florida.

She attributed that to high setup costs that made them accessible to relatively few.

And at a time when many men attended the fair in coat and tie and women in dresses, people weren’t quite ready to be seen on the phone at any hour, in their pajamas or worse.

‘We were still a little more of a formal society,’ Walters said.

Yes, just a little more.

The concept of the Picturephone eventually arrived as an option in the last decade for those who want to see the person on the other end, thanks to the Internet, Skype, and business video conferencing. But the original notion was that the Picturephone would entirely replace the phone in much the same way that television supplanted radio. (A medium, that come to think of it, is also still doing rather well.)

But what really makes these photos fascinating is that they visualize the last gasp of optimism in the overculture, arriving six months after JFK was assassinated and a year or so before LBJ believed that the government could do anything — and worse, everything — simultaneously: manned moon landings, Vietnam, Medicare, and end poverty simultaneously. When his Texas Sized rehash of the New Deal failed, and chaos reined from 1967 through 1968 and beyond, distraught liberals and the angry punitive New Left decided to take it out on the rest of us, resulting in the cynicism and doomsaying that would dominate the late ’60s and much of the 1970s. Just compare the tone of the ’64 World’s Fair and its audience of cool early Mad Men-styled men and women in the photos at the London Daily Mail with the tone of the collapsed overculture of the following decade:

(Via 5′F)

Update: Gee, this wasn’t the Kennedy-era headline I had been hoping to see repeated in 2014.

Oh, that punitive liberalism:

Under California law, the Franchise Tax Board has the “presumption of correctness,” meaning that the onus always is on Hyatt to disprove what the tax officials say. And, he argues, they keep changing their stories and their allegations, thus resulting in more years of legal expenses and disputes.

“It’s ruined my life. They keep coming up with these intensive positions, many hundreds of pages of allegations and such that we have to try and disprove decades later and it’s just very consuming,” Hyatt told me in an interview last week. “The FTB is out to get taxpayers’ money and it will go to extreme ends to get money whether it is entitled to it or not….”

The state controller’s office has yet to review the newly filed lawsuit. But former Board of Equalization member Bill Leonard, a former Republican Assemblyman, believes the state government is abusing rules designed to give taxpayers every opportunity to appeal a judgment to drag out a case against a taxpayer. The Legislature could fix the problem with a law granting a right to speedy trial on tax matters, he added.

It’s hard not to conclude that California’s tax agency is out of line as it continues to run up administrative and legal fees — not to mention risking potential multimillion-dollar liabilities — to pursue a decades-old dispute over where a taxpayer lived for six months. There’s a troubling lesson here for wannabe entrepreneurs, who might want to think carefully about their residency before they hit the big time.

Read the whole thing.

So in-between shaking down entrepreneurs and inventors, how’s California doing managing its own money?

Calpers also notes that “the economic impact of CalPERS benefits far exceed initial taxpayer contributions.” Lo, the fund claims to return $10.85 in “economic activity” for every dollar taxpayers contribute, which would make public pensions the best government stimulus of all time.

Their crude economic calculation is something to behold. The fund estimates that employer contributions account for 22% of every dollar in pension benefits, which would equate to $2.8 billion for the fiscal year 2011. Calpers then contrives a 2.39 “multiplier” from a “Social Accounting Matrix” to compute that its $12.7 billion in annual retiree payments generated $30.4 billion in economic activity and 113,664 jobs—more than a third of the state’s employment growth that year.

Note: White House economists used a multiplier of a mere 1.5 to arrive at their off-the-wall estimate that the stimulus program would create 3.7 million jobs.

Here’s a more honest accounting of Calpers’s economic “impact.” California taxpayers have sunk about $70 billion into Calpers over the last decade, which they otherwise could have spent on more productive enterprises or pursuits. For every one dollar workers contribute to their retirement, taxpayers are investing two. Local sales and property taxes have risen to pay for increasing pension payments. Public workers have also been laid off and infrastructure delayed—all of which has depressed economic growth.

Why, it’s as if Sacramento is absolutely determined to transform the formerly Golden State into the next Detroit.

Related: “Republican National Committee Marks Tax Day by Suing IRS,” Bridget Johnson writes at the PJ Tatler.

A Song to Get You Through Tomorrow…

April 14th, 2014 - 6:48 pm

What word describes April 15th? Hint: It rhymes with “Happy:”

(Via Power Line.)

Update: “can’t sleep amendments will eat me….can’t sleep amendments will eat me….can’t sleep amendments will eat me….can’t sleep amendments will eat me…”

Remember the good old days when politicians used to stay bought?

“Obama, Biden, Schumer, And Hillary Clinton Took Money From Koch Brothers,” the Weasel Zippers blog notes, along with this rather extensive chart:

koch_to_dems_4-14-14

“Harry Reid unavailable for comment,” the Zippers add. Instead, he’s currently experiencing his own symptoms of what George Will dubbed leftwing Tourette’s Syndrome yesterday:

Much more at Truth Revolt.com. As Moe Lane wrote a week ago when Charles Schumer got a nasty attack of Koch Derangement Syndrome, “Did you really think that people wouldn’t go looking, Chuck?”

Oh and by the way, guess who else is a Koch-funded politician….

“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” Mr. Obama said at least 36 times. You remember, right? If not, just click on the  video flashback atop this post.

Even Politifact, the leftwing “fact” “checking” organization, grudgingly awarded Obama their “Lie of the Year” last year in the face of this reality.

Guess who proofed at least some of those speeches for the Obama administration, in-between taking credit for shutting down the government last fall? “Let HHS nominee Sylvia Burwell explain Obamacare lie,”  Marc Thiessen suggests in the Washington Post:

When speechwriters finish a draft presidential address, it is circulated to the White House senior staff and top cabinet officials in what is known as the “staffing process.” As part of that process, nonpartisan career policy experts at OMB review the speech and are responsible for attesting to the factual accuracy of everything the president says.

So thanks to Burwell’s nomination, Americans may finally get to the bottom of how the biggest presidential lie in recent memory made it though OMB’s fact-checking process — not once but dozens of times.

The first time the lie surfaced — when Obama told the American Medical Association on June 15, 2009, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what” — it wasn’t on Burwell’s watch.

But Burwell was OMB director when Obama declared on Sept. 26, 2013: “Now, let’s start with the fact that even before the Affordable Care Act fully takes effect, about 85 percent of Americans already have health insurance — either through their job, or through Medicare, or through the individual market. So if you’re one of these folks, it’s reasonable that you might worry whether health-care reform is going to create changes that are a problem for you — especially when you’re bombarded with all sorts of fear-mongering. So the first thing you need to know is this: If you already have health care, you don’t have to do anything.”

Burwell should explain to Congress and the American people how her office allowed blatant falsehoods to get into presidential speeches, including whether political aides overruled career policy advisers who warned that the president’s claims were untrue.

Sadly, “Burwell will still get confirmed,” predicts Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler, “only this time there will be harder questions and maybe a handful of votes against her.” And perhaps some excellent fodder for ads in September.

Oh, and regarding Burwell’s hapless predecessor, “Sebelius Misspells Successor’s Name in Farewell Email,” to conclude her hapless Washington career.

By the way, where does Sebelius go next?

“Kathleen Sebelius may have a future in the private sector but her public office service is over,” said Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kelly Arnold. “Voters in Kansas have never supported the idea of Obamacare and having Sebelius as CEO of it has turned Kansans away for any support for her.”

All too often unfortunately, disastrous failures in government are often rewarded with lucrative private sector contracts — just ask an earlier and equally spectacular Democrat “Mistress of Disaster,” Jamie Gorelick.

Update: And thus, the circle is complete: “Sylvia Mathews Burwell Proved Her Loyalty by Digging Through Vince Foster’s Trash.”

eric_holder_race_card_big-6-6-12

A meme-worthy moment from George Will yesterday on Fox News Sunday, as spotted by Jeffrey Meyer of Newsbusters:

CHRIS WALLACE: We asked you for questions from the panel, for the panel, rather. And we got this on Twitter from Michael Daigeaun. Why is it that if you oppose their position and you’re white, you’re branded a racist? Both Attorney General Holder and POTUS race bait. George is that what’s going on here?

GEORGE WILL: Sure. Look, liberalism has a kind of Tourette’s Syndrome these days. It’s just constantly saying the word racism and racist. It’s an old saying in the law; if you have the law on your side, argue the law. If you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have neither, pound the table. This is pounding the table. There’s a kind of intellectual poverty now. Liberalism hasn’t had a new idea since the 1960s except ObamaCare and the country doesn’t like it. Foreign policy is a shambles from Russia to Iran to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the recovery is unprecedentedly bad. So what do you do? You say anyone criticizes us is a racist. It’s become a joke among young people. You go to a campus where this kind of political correctness reigns and some young person will say looks like it’s going to rain. The person looks and says, you’re a racist. I mean it’s so inappropriate. The constant implication of this is that I think it is becoming a national mirth.

It’s entirely possible to invert Lionel Trilling’s famous 1950 dismissal of conservatism in its exhausted pre-William F. Buckley form to describe the current dissipated state of the left, circa 2014:  the leftwing impulse and the progressive impulse do not, with some isolated and some ecclesiastical exceptions, express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.

QED. (Dittos this and this.)

But Will’s noting that “liberalism has a kind of Tourette’s Syndrome these days” is a marvelous shorthand way of saying the same thing. I hope it catches on as a rejoinder, wherever leftwing Tourette’s Syndrome flares up next.

Update: “Cynical Race-Baiting Will Fail to Save the Democrats.”

Related: Heh.™

Just NBC the Giant Memory Hole!

April 14th, 2014 - 12:22 pm

MSNBC-parody-10-4-10

NBC CEO once donated to Rick Santorum (R-PA), who’s no fan of gay marriage. Jeffrey Lord of the American Spectator wonders when this story will be breaking on MSNBC, or when the network will call for his resignation, a la Mozilla’s Brendan Eich — though I suspect that in either case, he’s not holding his breath:

So in the wake of the Mozilla/Brendan Eich kerfuffle? When push comes to shove on business executives who give money in the name of what leftist gay activists are calling homophobia? Forced to choose between a powerful liberal media insider — aka the Rick Santorum-supporting NBC/Universal Chief Executive Stephen Burke (a $2,000 contribution to Santorum’s losing Senate re-election bid) — and gays? The liberal media fell suddenly silent.

Whatever happened to MSNBC’s famously gay hosts Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts? And MSNBC reporter and Brendan Eich critic Adam Serwer? Or Media Matters and its gay leader David Brock? America Blogs gay activist John Aravosis? Or Michelangelo Signorile, the editor-at-large of Huffington Post’s Gay Voices. Or Bob Greenblatt, the chairman of NBC Entertainment? And, yes, where is Tina Fey?

Not to mention Slate, a publication whose senior tech writer Will Oremus was only this week insisting that any CEO who was an opponent of gay marriage was not fit to be a CEO. We brought to light the fact that Slate’s sister company the Kaplan Educational Foundation had a CEO who was repeatedly and deliberately on record as opposed to gay marriage. But Slate’s Oremus, like MSNBC, Media Matters and the rest has gone quieter than a church mouse in a morgue.

Let’s do a little compare and contrast.

Read the whole thing. And kudos to Dropbox, unlike Mozilla and Brandeis for sticking with Condi Rice as a boardmember, in the wake of the left’s latest hate storm.

Theodore Dalrymple quips that “’Do you care about the health of the planet?’ is a question not quite in the class of ‘Have you stopped beating your wife yet?,’ but it is approaching it:”

Some questions are asked in a spirit of inquiry, to obtain answers, but others are asked to intimidate or badger or coerce agreement with a point of view and establish the irreproachable virtue of the persons who ask them. I received such a question by email the other day from the Lancet, one of the most important medical journals in the world. Addressing me by my first name (already sufficient to irritate me), it asked me, “Do you care about the health of our planet?”

Frankly, the answer is that I don’t. Planets, unlike dogs, are not the kind of thing I can feel affection or concern for. My bank account occupies my mind more than the health of the planet. I am not even sure that planets can be healthy or unhealthy, any more than they can be witty or self-effacing. To call a planet healthy is to make what philosophers used to call a category mistake. This is not to say that I wish the earth any harm; on the contrary. Indeed, in a multiple-choice examination, I might even tick the box for wishing the world well rather than ill, at least if I had any reason for wanting to pass.

Of course, the people asking the question care about their bank balance far more than “saving the planet” themselves. NBC runs periodic “Green Weeks” urging individual viewers to turn all their their lights off, but they can’t quite seem to turn away the revenues from NASCAR and the NFL. As with CBS’s original leftwing naif Walter Cronkite going all-in on “Earth Day” in 1970, Scott Pelley, his latest replacement as the network’s nightly newsreader, smears global warming skeptics as Holocaust deniers and approvingly chats up the Obama-funded Tesla, yet CBS’s cable sports channel happily runs programming devoted to gas-guzzling muscle cars. (Really bitchin’ gas-guzzling muscle cars, too. Perfect for Iowahawk’s next Earth Week Cruise-In, to celebrate, as he likes to say in his own inimitable style, “Mother Earth — the Ultimate MILF®!”)

If either of these networks actually believed the “we only have five years to save the planet” rhetoric that radical environmentalists have been continually insisting since 1970, they would pull their financial backing from all of these shows, and begin scheduling programming, a la the 15-minutes into the future doomed Australia depicted in Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (and Stanley Kramer’s 1959 film adaptation) that prepared the nation for the holocaust to come.

To paraphrase Glenn Reynolds just slightly, I might be more willing to consider thinking of global warming as a crisis, when and if the people who tell me it’s a crisis begin to act like it’s one themselves, first. Don’t tell me to change or cut back on my lifestyle, until I first see very visible and dramatic proof that you’ve reduced yours.

And yes, I’m looking at you right now, United Nations and EPA.

(Via 5′F.)

And After All They Did for New York City…

April 13th, 2014 - 7:26 pm

occupy_wall_street_time_magazine_parody_12-10-11

New York Court Struggles To Find Jurors Who Don’t Hate The Occupy Movement,” notes the American Glob blog, linking to the London Guardian:

It is the most important question being asked of dozens of New Yorkers lined up as potential jurors for the trial of Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist accused of assaulting a police officer: what do you think of her protest movement?

Unfortunately for those keen on the swift procession of justice, a series of Manhattan residents who presented themselves at the criminal courthouse this week declared that they strongly disagreed with it – and could not promise to be impartial about one of its members.

“I’m involved in Wall Street things. I’m on the Wall Street side, not their side,” George Yih, one of a group of prospective jurors whose names were plucked from a tombola by the clerk, said under questioning from Judge Ronald Zweibel on Wednesday. “They can protest all they want, but they can’t brainwash my mind.”

Which seems rather odd — considering that the Occupy Wall Street crowd were in many ways a continuous outdoor performance art coming attraction for the de Blasio administration — when the two groups weren’t interconnected, that is.

(Time magazine parody atop post from the earlier, funnier period of OWS’s existence.)

Clearly Barack’s Sycophants

April 13th, 2014 - 6:35 pm

mussolini_obama_lerner_forward_6-13-13-1

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

● “Attkisson: CBSNEWS producers don’t want to deal with ‘headache’ of covering Obama controversies…”

—Headline, the Drudge Report today.

● “CBS’s Bob Schieffer Interviews Dem. Elijah Cummings, Ignores His Relationship With Lois Lerner.”

—Headline, Newsbusters today.

Good thing CBS News doesn’t have a half century history of being wildly partisan towards the left, while continually feigning objectivity…

Related: Meanwhile, at NBC, “Andrea Mitchell Fails to Ask Kathleen Sebelius Obvious (HuffPost) Question About ‘Resignation.’”

Unexpectedly.