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Ed Driscoll

Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal

Gee, wait’ll they discover how Obamacare was passed against the will of the American people…

* Not to mention the “It’s Different When We Do It” card.

Update: “Turns out history for the left didn’t begin on January 20, 2009 but rather in April 2010 or thereabouts,” Allahpundit writes:

In fact, the ObamaCare omission here is so egregious, it reminds me in an odd way of those creepy liberal revisionist histories in which JFK somehow ends up dead at the hands of the right-wing city of Dallas while his left-wing assassin is conveniently airbrushed into oblivion. They used reconciliation to pass what’s arguably the most momentous piece of domestic policy of the past 50 years, and now, the instant Republicans use it for anything, the tactic will be deemed de facto cheating — despite endless leftist screeching since 2009 that we should probably go ahead and jettison the archaic 60-vote threshold for cloture entirely. You keep smiling, guys.

Which dovetails nicely with Sonny Bunch’s observation today in the Washington Free Beacon that “#GamerGate Makes the Left Uncomfortable Because Gamer Gaters Have Adopted the Left’s Tactics:”

Because when I look at #GamerGate, I don’t really see the Tea Party (just as I’m sure Jessica Hunter—a gay, liberal, female Canadian #GamerGater—doesn’t really see the Tea Party). No, I see the tactics of the modern reactionary left. Consider: The movement’s biggest accomplishment thus far has been to get Intel to pull advertising from video game blog Polygon Gamasutra after they flooded the company with complaints. We’ve seen this a ton over the last few years, but not from the Tea Party.

No, we’ve seen it from the anti-Prop 8 campaigners, who used their combined efforts to get Scott Eckern, the artistic director of the California Musical Theater, fired for donating to the anti-gay-marriage ballot initiative. We’ve seen it from astroturfed anti-gun groups trying to pressure Kroger into banning people from carrying guns. We’ve seen it in Black Twitter’s efforts to get Paula Deen dropped after she admitted to using racist language following an armed robbery. I could go on and on: the freakout over Grantland’s Dr. V. story; the effort to #CancelColbert; Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars; etc.

At the risk of engaging in some questionable psychoanalysis, allow me to suggest that one of the reasons the left is so disturbed by the rise of #GamerGate is that this is the first time in many years that these self-proclaimed Social Justice Warriors have met any sort of organized pushback. And they find it doubly infuriating to see the tools they have used so successfully—the Twitter mob, the email campaign, the claims of grievance—turned against them.

In their frequent use of brutal scorched earth Alinksy-style tactics to advance their goals and silence their enemies, the far left have increasingly opened up Pandora’s Box — did they think they’d get to keep all of its secrets to themselves?

Is Our Children Learning?

October 19th, 2014 - 3:56 pm

Two observations: Assuming this fellow is a man of the left, why does he hate President Goldman-Sachs so? And just as a refresher, as Theodore Dalrymple recently noted, your dad is still not Hitler.

As reported in the New York Observer this past Wednesday, heretofore rarely a hotbed of anti-Obama sentiment:

In perhaps the most stunning documentation yet of abuses by Eric Holder’s Justice Department, two former Assistant United States Attorneys spoke to defense attorneys and revealed appalling deceit and corruption of justice. This latest litigation time bomb has exploded from multi-million dollar litigation originally brought by the Department of Justice against Sierra Pacific based on allegations that the lumber company and related defendants were responsible for a wildfire that destroyed 65,000 acres in California.

********************************

Sierra Pacific Industries and other defendants were compelled to pay $55 million to the United States over a period of five years and transfer 22,500 acres of land to settle massive litigation brought against them by the United States alleging that they caused a 2007 fire that destroyed 65,000 acres in California. Sierra Pacific has always maintained that the fire started elsewhere and that the state and federal investigators and Department attorneys lied. Now that settlement may go up in smoke because of the new evidence of outrageous misconduct by the federal prosecutors and the investigators from state and federal offices, as well as findings earlier this year by a state judge.

********************************
The Sacramento Bee reported on the Defendant’s filing. Indeed, the Defendants’ motion informs us that a former Assistant United States Attorney came forward and disclosed that he believes that he was removed from the original prosecution by “his boss, David Shelledy, chief of the civil division in the United States Attorney’s office,” because he “rebuffed” pressure to “engage in unethical conduct as a lawyer.” Of course, like other former prosecutors who were unethical, Mr. Shelledy is to receive Attorney General Holder’s highest award for excellence—this week.The defendants also reveal that another former federal prosecutor, Eric Overby, left the Moonlight Fire prosecution team also, stating: “It’s called the Department of Justice. It’s not called the Department of Revenue.” According to the motion, Mr. Overby told defense counsel that in his entire career, “I’ve never seen anything like this. Never.”

Well, sadly we have, and we’ve been reporting on it as fast as we can. This is part of a disturbing and rapidly increasing pattern of abuses by this Department of Justice to line government coffers or redistribute the wealth to its political allies—using its overwhelming litigation might and federal agencies as a tool of extortion and wealth redistribution.

The entire original prosecution against Sierra Pacific appears to have been driven by the Department of Justice’s interest in hitting a “deep pocket” for millions of dollars of revenue. The Defendants’ motion to set aside the settlement reveals a series of fraudulent acts by federal and state authorities that defiles our system of justice.

The news about the shakedown of Sierra Pacific comes on the heels of this report from a year ago on Lumber Liquidators being raided:

Although details were initially sketchy, Lumber Liquidators’ (LL) stock price plunged as much as 10% early Friday after a reported raid by federal investigators on its headquarters related to a probe of illegal imports.

In a statement, the top flooring retailer with more than 300 stores nationwide, said it would provide to investigators information and documents related to the import of certain products.

The Department of Homeland Security, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Justice conducted the raid, acting under a sealed court-issued warrant.

Lumber Liquidators said it gets products from more than 110 U.S. and international mills globally, and has more than 60 people who monitor imports.

“The company takes its sourcing very seriously, and is cooperating with authorities to provide them with requested information,” the company said in a statement.

Specific details on what the Department of Homeland Security agents were searching for were not immediately available, and the company and government officials declined to comment beyond the initial statements.

Federal agents conducted the search of Lumber Liquidators headquarters in Toano, Va., and at one of its stores in Richmond, Va.

The unannounced search was reminiscent of earlier raids on Gibson Guitar facilities.

Indeed. What is it with the Obama administration and lumber-based businesses?

(I know: as opposed to coal-based businesses, oil-based businesses, businesses with GOP or Christian CEOs, small business in general, and pretty much every other business except Comcast, Time-Warner-CNN-HBO and Goldman-Sachs, apparently.)

gm-logo-3

I’ve looked at corporatism from both sides now.

Corporatism is the socialist fusion of Big Government and Big Business, working strong-arm and arm, one mode clearing a path for the other, and neither side losing much sleep over what the customer wants, until the preference cascade kicks in and begins to snowball, and everyone eventually wakes up to reality with a raging hangover. In its pre-breakup day, think of Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine the Bell Telephone operator smugly blustering, “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the Phone Company.” Or today, the handlers of Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Barack and Michelle Obama screwing journalists. Or the disastrous late period products of General Motors, even before they became for several years under the Obama administration, Government Motors.

The Pontiac Aztek, in production at GM from 2001 and 2005, was sort of the equivalent of East Germany’s Trabant — both cars were designed by committee and were so bad they became goofy pop culture icons (the Trabant via the rock group U2, the Aztek via Breaking Bad). In a series of vignettes at Car & Driver, Bob Lutz, the chairman of GM during the period when it hit all the icebergs and sank into the abyss of Government Motors explains how the disastrous Aztek came to be:

I kind of got hired [as GM's vice chairman of product development] because of the Aztek. I was getting an award, and [then-GM chairman] Rick Wagoner introduced me and took a couple of funny digs. When I gave my speech, I said, “It’s curious that the man who oversaw the Aztek would comment on my failures.” It brought the house down. When I apologized later, he said, “Ah, I was expecting it. We’re disappointed in the Aztek. I’d enjoy hearing what you think we’re doing wrong.” After three conversations, he offered me a job.

* * * * * * *

A bad car happens in stages. The Aztek concept car was a much leaner vehicle. Decent proportions. It got everybody excited. At the time, GM was criticized for never doing anything new, never taking a chance. So Wagoner and the automotive strategy board decreed that henceforth, 40 percent of all new GM products would be “innovative.” That started a trend toward setting internal goals that meant nothing to the customer. Everything that looked reasonably radical got green-lit.

* * * * * * *

These things require a culture of complete acquiescence and intimidation, led by a strong dictatorial individual who wants it that way.

* * * * * * *

The guy in charge of product development was Don Hackworth, an old-school guy from the tradition of shouts, browbeating, and by-God-I-want-it-done. He said, “Look. We’ve all made up our minds that the Aztek is gonna be a winner. It’s gonna astound the world. I don’t want any negative comments about this vehicle. None. Anybody who has bad opinions about it, I want them off the team.” As if the public is gonna give a sh** about team spirit. Obviously, the industry is trying to get away from that approach.

That last paragraph is highly indicative of the other side of corporatism, isn’t it? As Megan McArdle wrote last November (ironically at Bloomberg.com, the “unexpectedly!” Website that often serves as a corporatism cheerleader for the Obama administration) during the rollout of Obamacare, the Pontiac Aztek of health insurance:

When the tech geeks raised concerns about their ability to deliver the website on time, they are reported to have been told “Failure is not an option.” Unfortunately, this is what happens when you say “failure is not an option”: You don’t develop backup plans, which means that your failure may turn into a disaster.

In the years before it became Government Motors, while its unions were busy devouring their host, GM was dubbed “a health-care provider that makes cars as an industrial by-product.” No wonder it and the equally feckless Obama administration were made for each other.

“Carlos Slim: The 3-day work week will happen,” CNNMoney reports. (Link safe, goes to the Brothers Judd):

Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom tycoon worth over $80 billion, believes life would be better with a three-day work week.

“You should have more time for you during all of your life — not when you’re 65 and retired,” Slim told CNNMoney’s Christine Romans on Tuesday.

But if Slim had his way, people would also work longer days and much later in life. He suggested 11-hour shifts and pushing the retirement age to 75.

If only Slim had a large group American laboratory subjects available to test out his theories…

#GamerGate in 60 Seconds

October 5th, 2014 - 9:09 pm

If you can’t tell who the players are, well, here’s your scorecard.

Government Don’t Work Good

October 3rd, 2014 - 12:46 pm

“Barack Obama had a choice between liberalism and the Democratic party. He chose the latter, and it cost him dearly,” Jonah Goldberg writes in his latest column:

If Obama wanted to restore faith in government, he would have pushed for mercilessly firing bad government workers and ending stupid government programs. And while he paid a little lip service to such things, his priorities were all in the other direction. That’s because he had to dance with the girl that brung him. The Democratic party isn’t simply the party of government, it is the party for government. That’s why his stimulus package was top-heavy with bailouts for federal programs, state governments, and public-sector workers. When he finally learned that there are no such things as “shovel-ready jobs,” it should have prompted him to ask, “Why not?” The answer would have led him to reforms that undoubtedly would have helped the American people — and the cause of liberalism! — but hurt his own base in the Democratic party.

On Obama’s watch, we’ve seen horrifying incompetence, malfeasance, or skullduggery at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the IRS, DOJ, GAO, and HHS. Republicans didn’t create the fiasco of the Obamacare rollout; the architects of Obamacare did that all by themselves. Just this week, the wheels have come off the bus at the Secret Service. You can denounce the anti-government rhetoric of Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and the Koch brothers all you like, but they didn’t cause any of these spectacular failures. If the CDC screws up its efforts to contain Ebola, it will be a far more powerful, lasting, and damaging indictment of government competence than any floor speech by Mitch McConnell.

Obama set out to restore faith in government and liberalism. He ended up throwing them both under the bus for the sake of his party.

Of course, it’s not like the handwriting wasn’t on the wall when Obama was running in 2007 and 2008, but journalists were too blinded by Mr. Obama’s teleprompter skills to see it. And they weren’t about to investigate his past, either — the same media that obsessed over Sarah Palin’s tanning bed never spotted Obama’s cringe-worthy dog-eating revelation in his 2004 autobiography Dreams From My Father until Jim Treacher quoted the passage in April of 2012.

About a half-hour into the new Ricochet podcast, titled “Government Don’t Work Good,” after Michael Barone joked the he’s trying to frame the central issue of the day in the vernacular of today’s elite college students, he noted:

This president has proved to be less interested than most, if interested at all, in how things actually work out on the ground. He doesn’t have too good a sense of this. I recall that during his career as a community organizer, he never successfully got the asbestos out of the Altgeld Gardens housing project in  Chicago. That might been a tipoff that somebody who is making good speeches about the oppression of having asbestos in a housing project — if you can’t get your asbestos out, you may not be able to do other things.

Too bad the American people, and the Democrat operatives with bylines who were supposed to vet president candidates didn’t realize that Mr. Obama being dubbed “The Lightworker” by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008 cut both ways.

Related: “In just two weeks, Obama proven completely wrong about Ebola,” Byron York writes at the Washington Examiner.

Two Gray Ladies in One!

October 1st, 2014 - 11:48 am

Liberals talk about circumstances; conservatives talk about character.

This intellectual divide is most obvious when the subject is the persistence of poverty in a wealthy nation. Liberals focus on the stagnation of real wages and the disappearance of jobs offering middle-class incomes, as well as the constant insecurity that comes with not having reliable jobs or assets.

– Paul Krugman, “The Show-Off Society,” September 25, 2014. (Link safe, goes to Kevin Williamson’s recent article on ‘The Gelded Age” and the left’s obsession over fighting “income inequality,” in-between shopping at Saks and dining at the Four Seasons.

The New York Times has announced that it will eliminate roughly 100 jobs from its newsroom through buyouts and, if need be, layoffs.

The cuts, announced Wednesday by Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and chief executive Mark Thompson, are part of the Times’ larger effort to stem costs and restructure for a more digital future. The Times has already eliminated at least 230 newsroom positions since 2008, even as it continues to staff up on the digital and development side. The new cutbacks should leave the Times with roughly 1,200 newsroom staff.

The Politico, today. No word yet if the Timespeople who don’t know who Shylock and Friedrich Hayek were or what’s an editorial were among those laid off.

(Via 5′F)

Related: As Northeast state governments adopt more and more of the Times’ recommended economic and social policies, voters (and potential Times subscribers) flee to the sunbelt. “While the states from Pennsylvania to Maine had 141 House members in 1950, they are down to 85 today, a drop of some 40 percent.”

In Search of the Loch Ness Monster

September 27th, 2014 - 3:06 pm

“Never Trust Anyone Who Hasn’t Been Punched in the Face,” Scott Lockin wrote in 2011:

Conservatives like to talk about the causes of Western Civilization’s downfall: feminism, loose morality, drug abuse, Christianity’s decline, reality TV. Blaming civilization’s downfall on lardy hagfish such as Andrea Dworkin is like a doctor diagnosing senility by an old person’s wrinkles. The fact that anyone listened to such a numskull is a symptom, not the cause, of a culture in decline. The cause of civilizational decline is dirt-simple: lack of contact with objective reality. The great banker-journalist (and founder of the original National Review) Walter Bagehot said it well almost 150 years ago:

History is strewn with the wrecks of nations which have gained a little progressiveness at the cost of a great deal of hard manliness, and have thus prepared themselves for destruction as soon as the movements of the world gave a chance for it.

Every great civilization reaches a point of prosperity where it is possible to live your entire life as a pacifist without any serious consequences. Many civilizations have come to the state of devolution represented by modern Berkeley folkways, from wife-swapping to vegetarianism. These ideas don’t come from a hardscrabble existence in contact with nature’s elemental forces; they are the inevitable consequence of being an effete urban twit removed from meaningful contact with reality. The over-civilized will try to portray their decadence as something “highly evolved” and worthy of emulation because it can only exist in the hothouse of highly civilized urban centers, much like influenza epidemics. Somehow these twittering blockheads missed out on what the word “evolution” means. Evolution involves brutal and often violent natural selection, and these people have not been exposed to brutal evolutionary forces any more than a typical urban poodle.

Which, as Bill Whittle notes in his latest Firewall video, helps to explain why they keep searching for the ideological equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster:

(Via SDA)

Update: Then there’s trickle-down decadence:

While Adrian Peterson makes millions, the parallel universe I’m talking about is mostly poor, as reflected painfully perfectly in an exchange four years ago, as reported in the Star Tribune, in a Hennepin (Minneapolis) District Courtroom. The story involved the sentencing of a teenager who had shot and killed another teenager—a kid, who only a year earlier, had shot and wounded the kid now being sentenced. The second shooting, in other words, was in retribution of the first. For good measure, the murdered teen’s mother herself was in prison for forgery, let out for the day to testify.

In speaking of her child—her second son to be murdered—she said he had worked two jobs and received his high school diploma posthumously. After saying she never had a chance to see him graduate, she added this stunner: “I am never going to see him come home and say, ‘Mama, I got some girl pregnant.’”

I double-checked with the reporter to make certain I had interpreted what the woman had said accurately: that she had, in fact, intended the term “Mama, I got some girl pregnant” to convey the same joy parents traditionally derive from hearing their married children and spouses announce in celebration: “Mom and Dad, we’re going to have or baby.”  Or, more up to date, “Mom and Dad, we’re pregnant.”

Yes, I was told, I had interpreted her lament correctly, as she mourned not only her son’s death, but how he would never impregnate some girl.

Pat Moynihan, call your office.

“‘The Ray Rice video for the financial sector’: Fired Fed worker unveils secretly taped meetings between regulators and Goldman Sachs showing government ‘is in the bankers’ pockets,’” the London Daily Mail reports:

A fired New York Fed regulator recorded hours of meetings which allegedly show how government supervisors were afraid to ask tough questions of the biggest banks on Wall St.

Carmen Segarra, 41, was brought in by New York’s banking watchdog in the wake of the financial crisis to tighten the government’s grip on the major banks, and assigned to Goldman Sachs.

And after encountering a culture of ‘fear’ and ‘deference’ to the finance giants at Goldman, Segarra explosively started recording meetings in which regulators offer softball questions to bankers, then congratulate themselves for standing up to them.

So corporatist kabuki in other words. Or as Jonah Goldberg wrote in April of 2009:

Honesty and marital necessity require me to state that everything I know about prostitution I have learned from a distance. That said, based on what I’ve gleaned from reading and from films of dubious artistic value, it seems to me that the farther you move up the prostitution price range, the more elaborate the lies become. A streetwalker trolling the docks during Fleet Week has little opportunity for self-rationalization, elaborate rituals, or ornate fictions. She never asks that drunk petty officer from Manila, “Do you love me?”; nor does she wonder why he never calls or writes. We all know what she’s selling, and we’re under no illusions about the fact that it’s for sale. Sure, for an extra $25, she might pretend to enjoy it, but ultimately, the cheaper the cost, the cheaper the lies.

The same holds true, I suppose, with many areas of commerce. A trip to a four-star restaurant involves lots of ritual, to heighten the richness of the experience. The ambiance surrounding the purchase of a McDonald’s Happy Meal, meanwhile, isn’t markedly different from the atmosphere at Home Depot when you buy a toilet brush.

But it’s prostitution that lends itself best to varying degrees of deception. Tony Soprano’s “gumars” always expected to be treated better than the slatterns in the backroom of the Bada Bing Club. And, no doubt, the late French president Francois Mitterand–who fathered a second family with one of his many mistresses–was no stranger to ornate fictions either. As the costs rise, the compliments become more sincere. The relationships grow not only more complex but more reciprocal–and, most of all, the real lies aren’t what the hookers tell the johns, but what both parties tell themselves.

That’s something to keep in mind as we watch the spectacle of American big business and the Democratic party seducing each other once again.

Visit any college campus, any Georgetown salon, any sweaty left-wing netroots comment section, or any space sufficiently accursed to have both Nancy Pelosi and a microphone in it, and you will be informed that the Democratic party stands up to corporate fat cats. President Obama spent much of the last two years denouncing the stranglehold that corporate interests have on American politics. “They don’t represent ordinary Americans, they don’t fund my campaign, and they won’t drown out the voices of working families when I am president.” “Right-wing and corporate forces,” the former director of advocacy for MoveOn.org writes in The American Prospect, “will do everything they can to block our agenda on things like universal health care and climate change.” It’s not just that they tell the world this stuff; they tell it to themselves. Former senator John Edwards–in many ways a cornpone Mitterand–was probably sincere when he said over and over again that he’s been preparing his whole life to fight big corporations in behalf of the one of his “two Americas” that doesn’t live like him. It’s quite easy to imagine his saying words to that effect every morning in front of one of the countless mirrors in his 28,000-square-foot home.

See also: the strange, malodorous, and stillborn kabuki that was “Occupy Wall Street.”

Earlier in 2009, Kevin D. Williamson wrote a perceptive article titled “Losing Gordon Gekko”, which explained that during the 2006 and 2008 elections, “Wall Street has gone over to the Democrats. Should conservatives miss it?”

In 2006 and 2008, Wall Street poured money on Democrats. Big Wall Street firms that made major political contributions — including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, UBS, and Lehman — gave the majority of their contributions to Democrats. The hedge funds followed suit, as they are inclined to do — they depend on the big Wall Street institutions to clear their trades. And it wasn’t just Wall Street: Democrats led in six of the ten big-business sectors tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics: law, health care, defense contractors, communications/electronics, finance/insurance/real estate, and the catch-all category that includes chemical firms, retailers, manufacturers, food processors, and other industrial operators. Republicans held on to agriculture — which is, not coincidentally, the industry in which they are the least interested in practicing capitalism: It’s not the philosophical commitment to free markets that opens up corporate checkbooks, but the promise of favorable exceptions to those principles.

So why is the bulls-and-bears set going donkey? Partly it’s self-interest: Wall Street loves a tax break, but Big Money has over the years found a lot to love about Big Government. Those carbon-offset exchanges may be clearinghouses for products that are, in essence, imaginary, but they are going to make a real bundle for the bankers who set them up — and, since they’ll inevitably have the support of government, there will be relatively little risk involved. And Democrats’ anti-war talk hasn’t spooked the defense contractors. For all the conspiracy-mongering about Halliburton Republicans, now that Democrats control defense appropriations it’s no surprise to find the likes of Rep. Ike Skelton, the Democrat who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, enjoying the support of military providers such as Armor Holdings Inc. What is surprising is that Democrats now lead Republicans overall in financial support from defense firms.

When Obama made his case for the stimulus bill — which is larded with corporate welfare — he was flanked by two big-league CEOs: IBM’s Sam Palmisano and Honeywell’s Dave Cote. For many on the anti-war left — the people who elevated Obama over Clinton during the primary — Honeywell is a war profiteer, only a little less detestable than Halliburton. You’d think this would chap the hide of the Democrats’ progressive wing. For the most part, you’d be wrong, though a few on the left, such as Harold Meyerson, have scolded the Democrats for courting capital. Success has a way of pre-empting criticism: Democrats may have kidded Clinton about being the best Republican president since Gerald Ford — Clinton himself raged that he’d been turned into Dwight Eisenhower — but they loved him, even if he is today seen less as the second coming of FDR than as John the Baptist to Obama’s Jesus Christ Superstar. But there’s no denying Clinton’s great political accomplishment in making peace between the Democrats and Big Business — and cutting into Republicans’ credibility on the economy.

In 2010, CNN reported that “Goldman Sachs was top Obama donor” during election year 2008; in 2012, the firm wisely hedged its bets in 2012, giving more to Romney, but still plenty of funds to Obama and other Democrats as protection money.

Shortly before the 2008 election, The Voice in My Head blog noted that “Goldman Sachs Loves Obama.” and Photoshopped the Obama “O” logo into Goldman’s logo, where it fit all-too-comfortably. In 2011, Glenn Reynolds began routinely dubbing Mr. Obama “President Goldman Sachs.” Given that there’s a revolving door between Goldman Sachs and the Obama (and Clinton) Administration, will the Obama administration pursue Segarra as aggressively as other videomakers and journalists targeted by the pro-corporatist, anti-First Amendment administration?

Know When to Holder, Know When to Fold’er

September 25th, 2014 - 11:58 am

“Eric Holder To Step Down As Attorney General,” Obama house organ NPR reports. The lead is a predictable doozy:

Eric Holder Jr., the nation’s first black U.S. attorney general, is preparing to announce his resignation Thursday after a tumultuous tenure marked by civil rights advances, national security threats, reforms to the criminal justice system and 5 1/2 years of fights with Republicans in Congress.

Two sources familiar with the decision tell NPR that Holder, 63, intends to leave the Justice Department as soon as his successor is confirmed, a process that could run through 2014 and even into next year. A former U.S. government official says Holder has been increasingly “adamant” about his desire to leave soon for fear that he otherwise could be locked in to stay for much of the rest of President Obama’s second term.

Even in NPR’s article, between fluffy ‘graphs stating that Eric Holder is kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being that NPR has ever known in its life, details emerge about Holder’s disastrous tenure:

…a 2009 Black History Month speech where he said the country was “a nation of cowards” when it comes to discussions about racial tension.

* * * * * * *

Another huge controversy — over his decision to try the Sept. 11 plotters in a New York courthouse in the shadow of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center — prompted venomous reaction from lawmakers, New York City officials and some victims’ families.

* * * * * * *

Things hit a crisis point when the GOP-led House voted him in contempt for refusing to hand over documents about a gun trafficking scandal known as Fast and Furious.

So why is Holder resigning now? Let’s ask him!

Gee, you’re not much help at all, Eric*. OK, let’s ask Noah Rothman at Hot Air:

Holder’s decision to resign is the clearest indication yet that the White House believes there is a real possibility that Democrats will lose control of Congress in the coming midterm elections. If the GOP were to take control of the Senate with Holder in place as AG, he would likely have to serve in that role for the remainder of the Obama presidency.

Holder has, however, said that he intends to remain in his post until his replacement is confirmed. Even if Republicans take control of the Senate after the November elections, there will be a push to confirm Obama’s new nominee in the lame duck session. A confirmation fight over the supremely important post of attorney general looms, and it will probably not be a fight tackled by the 114th Congress’s Senate. Nevertheless, the politics of a confirmation fight is likely aimed squarely at the midterm electorate. Republicans and Democrats both stand to benefit from this shot in the arm.

Noah writes that “The two leading candidates who fit this bill are California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.” Regarding the former:

Ambition: Check. Partisan liberal: Check. Demographic desirability (Harris is both female and African-American): Check.

Patrick, meanwhile, is a known quantity and, having occupied statewide office and served as a surrogate for Barack Obama, his nomination may even be seen as more partisan and divisive than would Harris’s. Patrick has also served as a Department of Justice official in the past as the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, so he has the qualifications and possibly even the desire to serve as Obama’s AG.

“Deval Patrick has always been a name you heard a lot over the years,” Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd opined on Thursday. “He’s somebody that has been close to a lot of the president’s political aides.

“As somebody whose term is expiring in Massachusetts, electing a successor there, he expressed interest in – I think he would love to be a judge someday,” Todd continued. “I think he said one time in an interview one of his dream jobs would be to be a Supreme Court justice.”

Oh and speaking of Chuck Todd’s opinion of Holder himself, as Glenn Reynolds notes:

Meanwhile, predictable loserdom from the Journolist crew: NBC’s Chuck Todd: Self-Professed ‘Activist’ Eric Holder ‘a Very Non-Political Person.’ Really, Chuck? Really?

There’s the kind of hard-hitting take no prisoners journalism we’ve come to expect from NBC and its Democrat operatives with bylines. Keep on BenSmithing, boys!

Update: “Republicans Rejoice at Resignation of Holder: ‘Obama Could Hardly Do Worse.’” I’m not at all sure that’s true — do not taunt a happy fun community organizer with nothing to lose after November.

QED: “Al Sharpton Says He’s Helping The White House Pick The Next Attorney General.” Gee, between Sharpton saying that he advises Obama on domestic issues and resident Time-Warner-CNN plagiarist  Fareed Zakaria boasting from time to time that “he has been advising President Obama on foreign policy matters,” the country’s in the very best of hands, to coin an Insta-phrase.

More: Juicevox Mafia suffers their usual epistemic closure:

Wasting Away Again In An Obamaville

September 24th, 2014 - 5:00 pm

obamaville_11-21-11

I’m now being followed on Twitter by “Tent City San Jose,” boasting that it’s “Population 300+ and growing daily,” so I’ve got that going for me. Presumably, they discovered my Twitter profile because it mentions that I’m “San Jose Editor of PJ Media.” I have no idea if it’s a legit account, although this photo tweeted four hours ago also shows up in a 2012 article at a Website called San Jose Inside, in a post titled, “City Changes Policy on Homeless Camps.”

And this photo, in a tweet whose text reads, “A year and a month ago, I was a working class citizen,” also appears in a post at New York Daily Photo noting that the photo was shot in SoHo. In 2007.)

But this seems like a curious item to post for your 14th addition to an interactive two-way social media:

tent_city_san_jose_9-2-14

In contrast, for a look at a march larger group of Bay Area residents who won’t leave anyone alone, and presumably have a different vision of a camp to umm, concentrate their ideological enemies within, check out the prodigal Zombie’s long-awaited return to PJM: “Climate Movement Drops Mask, Admits Communist Agenda.”

And finally, I’m sure this last link has nothing whatsoever to do with either Zombie’s photo essay nor the rag- tag “Tent City San Jose.” Steve Green lists the “Worst States to Do Business In.”

Two guesses as to which formerly golden state is Number One.

Related: City Journal’s Steven Malanga on “The Professional Panhandling Plague.”

“White House fence jumper had ammunition, machete in car, prosecutors said,” the Washington Post’s headline screams. As always during modern-day politically-related crime stories where weapons are involved, the ideology of the suspect is investigated by the MSM. If the suspect was a man of the right, those details would be in the lede of the article, or in the headline.*

If he’s a man of the left? Well, it’s likely no coincidence that you have dig down eleven paragraphs into the Post’s story for this detail:

According to an affidavit signed by Secret Service officer David Hochman, Gonzalez after his arrest told Agent Lee Smart that he was concerned that the “atmosphere was collapsing” and that he needed to inform the president to get the word out to the people.

However, neither prosecutors nor Gonzalez’s assigned defense attorneys invoked his mental competency as an issue for now. Assistant Federal Public Defender David Bos said Gonzalez understands the proceeding against him.

Yes, if the Post’s reporting is accurate concerning Gonzalez, anyone who believes “the atmosphere is collapsing” is some brand of nutter, and nutters can be found on both sides of the aisle.

But.

Our previous post on Terry Gilliam noted that he called those who disagree with his far left environmentalist worldview “a fungus and if I was running the country I would take them out and shoot them.” As I wrote, we live in a media world in which Sarah Palin was tied into the Gabrielle Giffords shooting over clip-art and ABC’s Brian Ross immediately smeared a Tea Party member with the the same name as the Aurora Colorado lunatic who shot up a Batman premiere, ideology trumps insanity in the eyes of the media. Or as Ace of Spades wrote in December of 2012 after the New York Times began politicizing the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT from the left only a few hours after castigating the pro-Constitution side of the aisle for doing the same from their worldview:

Incidentally, the gun-rights people “politicizing” this are doing so pre-emptively, because they’ve seen this play six hundred times before and they know what happens in the Second Act.

I mean, it’s not like we’re as stupid as you claim. We are able to remember things that happened more than a week ago.

This is also why we now immediately search for a gunman’s political affiliation– because we know that’s the first thing you do.

This is the cynical world the media created, in service to their Democrat allies. Once again, the MSM should read Gabriel Malor’s “Tweetable Guide To Media Myths And Left-wing Violence.”

* Of course, by mentioning “ammunition and a machete,” which side of the aisle is the Post implying in its headline?

Related: “Undocumented Visitor Comes Out of Shadows, Jumps White House Fence,” Rush Limbaugh quips. “I thought we were supposed to welcome people that jump fences.  I thought we’re supposed to welcome people who crash our borders.”

Especially, when they share the same eco-apocalyptic doomsday worldview as our recently-retired former president:

Roll Over Alinsky, and Tell Glenn Thrush the News

September 22nd, 2014 - 11:38 am

John Nolte of Big Journalism coined the phrase “BenSmithing” to describe the tactics of the former Politico turned BuzzFeed scribe and member of the JournoList, that self-described “non-official campaign” to elect Obama, which as its founder Ezra Klein explained, was only open to his fellow leftists. As the Urban Dictionary notes, BenSmithing is “a political tactic that disguises itself as journalism in order to protect Democrats, most specifically Barack Obama.”

Smith’s former colleague Glenn Thrush, still with the Politico, is also quite prepared to do a little BenSmithing to aid his fellow Democrats in higher places: whenever a scandal engulfs them, Thrush affects an attitude of boredom. Hey, no big deal — Evel Knievel totally meant to crash the motorcycle on the landing ramp. All part of the act; happens all the time, you guys.

It’s a curious tone though, for someone who holds himself out as a journalist, and not as a Democrat operative with a byline. Those of us who have the privilege of observing the Hieronymus Bosch meets Koyaanisqatsi landscape of the world of the 21st century and then reporting on the wreckage around us are usually horrified at how dysfunctional the modern world and its political players are and eager to share the details with our readers. But for Thrush, it’s all pretty boring. At least when bad things happen to his fellow leftists.

Last November, during the disastrous Obamacare rollout, whenever everything that could go wrong did — and then some — permanently destroying any hope its namesake had of a legacy of technocratic competence, Thrush sniffed:

thrush_bored_obamacare_11-17-13

No of course not, despite the millions more words to come of what a debacle Mr. Obama’s administration was making of the healthcare industry and the pain it was inflicting upon those who relied on it.

This weekend, Thrush is back to his old trick of feigning ignorance and boredom:

At the Corner, Stanley Kurtz explains, for the benefit of Thrush and others BenSmithing the story, “Why Hillary’s Alinsky Letters Matter:”

Glenn Reynolds links to a tweet in response to the Goodman story by Politico’s Glenn Thrush: “Remind me again why liking Saul Alinsky is unacceptable.” Alright Glenn, and the rest of a Democratic-leaning media that will do everything in its power to play this revelation down, I’ll remind you.

Alinsky was a democratic socialist. He worked closely for years with Chicago’s Communist party and did everything in his power to advance its program. Most of his innovations were patterned on Communist-party organizing tactics.  Alinsky was smart enough never to join the party, however. From the start, he understood the dangers of ideological openness. He was a pragmatist, but a pragmatist of the far left.  (See Chapter Four of Spreading the Wealth for details.)

Hillary Clinton understood all of this.  As she noted at the conclusion of her undergraduate thesis on Alinsky, “If the ideals Alinsky espouses were actualized, the result would be social revolution.”  In her letter to Alinsky, Hillary says, “I have just had my one-thousandth conversation” about Reveille for Radicals (Alinsky’s first book). Nowadays, people focus on Alinsky’s more famous follow-up, Rules for Radicals. But Reveille, which Hillary knew inside-out, is the more ideologically revelatory work.

Here’s how Alinsky defined his favored politics in Reveille for Radicals:

Radicals want to advance from the jungle of laissez-faire capitalism to a world worthy of the name of human civilization. They hope for a future where the means of economic production will be owned by all of the people instead of the comparative handful.

So Alinsky supported the central Marxist tenet of public ownership of the means of production. Unlike the New Left, however, Alinsky had no expectation of reaching that end through swift or violent revolution. He meant to approach the ultimate goal slowly, piecemeal, perhaps over generations, through patient organizing efforts at the local level.

Read the whole thing. As Kurtz concludes, “A Hillary presidency is destined to be Obama’s third term. Two Alinskyite presidents in a row? Hillary said it best: ‘the result would be a social revolution.’”

Imagine how boring Glenn Thrush will find it all.

Update: Much more from Mollie Hemingway at the Federalist. Linking to the same tweet from Gabriel Malor we included above capturing the ho-hum reactions of Thrush and Maeve Reston of the L.A. Times, Hemingway writes:

Yeah, I can’t put my finger on why people were talking about Alinsky ever… SAYS A POLITICAL REPORTER. I mean, seriously. I get if you’re a normal person who lives a happy life unencumbered by discussions of politicians. But if you’re a political reporter, how can you cover the manufactured War on Women without knowing from which its tactics spring? How can you cover any political race without knowing how basic strategies of political change are employed by people on up to, oh I don’t know, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES? I’m sorry for shouting, but you see how it’s kind of frustrating, no? Look at these 13 (or 24, depending on how you look at it) rules from Alinsky and you tell me whether the phrase “Oh that’s why Harry Reid and other Democratic operatives are constantly invoking the specific names of the Koch brothers” doesn’t immediately spring word-for-word from your lips when you get to the end.

I’m not even saying that you should agree with conservative or moderate critiques of Alinsky but you should at least know who he is.

When Politico’s Ben White admitted to not knowing much about Alinsky, fellow Politico Magazine White House reporter Glenn Thrush assured him it was OK to not know much about him. Deputy editor for Politico Magazine Blake Hounsell helpfully noted that “He had some interesting organizing ideas.” White said, “that’s what Wikipedia taught me, yeah.” Later, White said, “The first rule of Twitter is never admit you don’t know something. The second is to be outraged by everything. Those are the only rules.”

Now, I certainly don’t want reporters to pretend they know stuff they don’t and I also don’t want to get outraged about the knowledge base of the Politico staff but is there room here for me to suggest all y’all should start a book club or something? I didn’t even get a degree in political science and I was forced to read and write a paper on Rules for Radicals by some lefty political science professor of mine (hard to distinguish them — I went to the University of Colorado) who thought we were living in The Jungle 24/7. You know what The Jungle is, right? Upton Sinclair? How about Shakespeare?

Keep reading; Mollie’s just getting started.

Related: Not surprisingly, Politico is almost as happy to airbrush history for Lois Lerner as they are for Hillary.

[Candidate Obama] shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make.

—Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2008.

[President Obama's] essential problem is that he has very poor judgment.

—Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, yesterday.

As juxtaposed by the Hot Air commenters last night.

The Beltway and Park Ave. chattering classes gave us Barack Obama because he flattered them first, and in the case of formerly stalwart GOP types such as Noonan and Christopher Buckley, and the Axis of Davids (RINOs Gergen, Brooks and Frum), because they didn’t want to lose their place at the endless cocktail party when it was obvious by mid-October of 2008 that Obama would be the likely winner thanks to McCain’s disastrous “suspending his campaign” tactic late in the previous month. It will be fascinating to watch their prognostications going forward into 2016.

This is Why California Can’t Have Nice Things

September 21st, 2014 - 9:37 am

“Castro Valley Winery to Government: Crush Grapes, Not Vintners,” Debra Saunders writes at Townhall:

“You’ll never meet anyone who says, ‘I want to be a millionaire. I think I’ll start a winery,’” owner Bill Smyth tells me from his small office over the tasting room of Westover Vineyards, nestled in Palomares Canyon. Smyth has worked in a number of fields. He made some money. He bought the vineyard property when he was young. His ex-wife bought him a kit to make wine, and his labor of love turned into a small business.

Now, thanks to heavy-handed California regulators, he’s selling off his ports and boutique wines and turning his winery back into a home.

In July, California Department of Industrial Relations officials showed up at Westover Vineyards and slapped Smyth with $115,550 in fines, back wages and penalties. His bad: Like many other East Bay wineries, Westover benefits from the labor of volunteers to help with winemaking and pouring. Smyth offers a free course in winemaking; he says participants are free to help out or not. He has a legal form for volunteers. It reads: “I am donating my labor free by choice.”

We’re not talking about teens being pressed into grueling labor in hot fields. As one who enjoys the fruit and neighborhood feel of Livermore Valley wineries, I’ve met both volunteers and employees who started as volunteers. They tend to be middle-aged professionals who want a piece of the oenology dream.

California entrepreneurs pride themselves on the can-do spirit that allowed Hewlett and Packard and Jobs and Woz start their businesses in their garages — and then consistently vote for socialists who would make a kid’s lemonade stand illegal, let alone a winery or home business. And then they wonder why the state, with its gorgeous weather (at least near the coast) and tremendous natural resources has a net outflow of citizens. As the Manhattan Institute noted in 2012, “For the past two decades, California has been sending more people to other American states than it receives from them. Since 1990, the state has lost nearly 3.4 million residents through this migration.”

Related: Meanwhile, in Illinois, “I hate to see the Democratic Party continually demonize Americans that are successful. What? Should we all be failures?”

‘It’s the Libertarian Left Behind’

September 17th, 2014 - 6:35 pm

ayn-rand-as-che-10-3-09-2

I read many skeptical reviews of the first Atlas Shrugged movie in 2011, went in to the theater with absolutely zero expectations, and as I wrote here on the blog, I was mildly surprised at how watchable it was. Anthony Sacramone of the Intercollegiate Review says much the same about his response to the first two Atlas movies, before running absolutely roughshod over the latest edition, asking along the way, “This Is John Galt?”

There’s a reason why Atlas Shrugged is rife with railways and natural resources and raw materials. It’s a bombastic prose poem to the original Industrial Age, when great men built a nation out of what they could pull from the earth and refine and refashion. It’s primal. It’s passionate. It’s as real as the car you drive or the building you live in.

And even though I am no Randian today, having long ago come to terms with the many contingencies and interdependencies of life, I nevertheless understand the appeal, the excitement, engendered by the author’s ideas and lust for life. And the 1949 film adaptation of The Fountainhead was pretty good, with a screenplay by Rand herself, direction by King Vidor, and performances by Patricia Neal and the one and only Gary Cooper as Howard Roark, the visionary and uncompromising architect.

Which is why I think, dare I say it, that the original Atlas, for all its flaws, deserved better than this film. My libertarian friends deserved better. My eyeballs deserved better. That Native American who appeared in those anti-littering commercials back in the 1970s with a tear rolling down his cheek deserved better and I don’t even know why. He wasn’t even Native American—he was Italian.

It takes a while for Sacramone to get going, but his review is well worth your time; definitely read the whole thing. Or as Mark Hemingway tweets:

CNN Gets Mugged By Reality

September 15th, 2014 - 7:08 pm

The National Labor Relations Board, one of FDR’s alphabet soup programs designed to prolong the Depression by dramatically bloating the size of government* “has ordered CNN to rehire 100 workers and compensate 200 others for a labor dispute that originated in 2003,” according to show-biz house organ Variety:

The 11-year dispute stems from CNN’s decision to replace a unionized subcontractor called Team Video Services, which provided the network with audio and video technicians, with an in-house nonunion work force in its Washington and New York bureaus.

The decision comes weeks after CNN’s top boss Jeff Zucker hinted at additional job cuts at the Turner-owned [ultimately Time-Warner-owned -- Ed] news channel, which employs over 2,000 people.

“We are going to have to do what we do with less,” he said in a memo to CNN employees. “As a result, that means there will be changes. No final decisions have been made.”

It’s unclear how the NLRB’s ruling will impact the expected restructuring at the news operation.

The Labor Board found “overwhelming” evidence of anti-union animus in CNN’s failure to bargain with the union about the decision to terminate the subcontracts. The org also found CNN had implemented a hiring plan designed to limit the number of discharged TVS employees to avoid a successorship bargaining obligation.

A CNN spokesperson said, “CNN disagrees with the NLRB decision and we are evaluating our options.”

Really? CNN admits that a Roosevelt-era federal government agency in the Obama era can make a mistake? CNN won’t be having its anchors bake cakes or fist-bump on-air in celebration of this decision? It won’t hire a children’s choir as human shields to sing its praises? Talk about burying the lede — this may be a first for the struggling, little-watched network.

I wonder if anyone at CNN has said, “What right does government have to do this to us?” Now if only we could get them to ask, “What is it that the American government shouldn’t be allowed to do?”

To paraphrase Irving Kristol, a conservative is a liberal that’s just gotten mugged by reality. Of course, it will take far more than this to awaken CNN from their decades of ideological torpor — but then, an angry bureaucracy in the waning days of the Obama era likely has far more to dish out, as well.

* Well, that’s how it ultimately worked out. As socialist Stuart Chase said when dreaming up Roosevelt’s New Deal, “Why should the Soviets have all the fun remaking a world?”

With headlines like “Obama’s Scariest ISIS Comment Yet: ‘I’m Not Going to Anticipate Failure’” — even the Obama fanboys at the New Republic are beginning to catch on to the SCOAMF-y-esque* nature of our recently retired former president:

Over the past month, President Obama has weathered frequent criticism for his comments about the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Most notable was his “gaffe” on August 28 when he said, “We don’t have a strategy yet.” Two weeks later, the president announced a plan to strike ISIS in Syria and provide military aid to moderate rebels. But those days in between were a devastating blow to our place in the world. Or, you know, maybe Washington pundits were overstating the significance of Obama’s comments.

In fact, though, Obama did make a serious error on ISIS recently. They weren’t public comments and they didn’t garner huge coverage, but they represent a dangerous mindset as the country embarks on another multi-year military engagement in the Middle East.

President Obama made the comment in a private, off-the-record meeting with a select group of journalists before his prime-time speech last week. On Sunday, Peter Baker, who was not at the meeting, reported in the New York Times about what was said there. Among other things, Obama was reportedly asked how he would adjust his strategy if his new plan proved unsuccessful. “I’m not going to anticipate failure at this point,” Obama responded, according to Baker’s report.

We’ve seen this movie before, haven’t we? Why, yes we have:

When the tech geeks raised concerns about their ability to deliver the website on time, they are reported to have been told “Failure is not an option.” Unfortunately, this is what happens when you say “failure is not an option”: You don’t develop backup plans, which means that your failure may turn into a disaster.

That’s from former Obama supporter Megan McArdle’s piece at Bloomberg (unexpectedly!) View on Obamacare last year titled, “Hope Is All Obamacare Has Left.”

In the 1920s and 1930s, as the “Progressive” socialists who had followed Woodrow Wilson into transforming America into a socialist state blanched at America’s return to normalcy, “We planned in war” became the rallying cry that led to the New Deal, staffed with Wilson-era retreads, who saw the New Deal as “The Moral Equivalent of War,” albeit in peacetime.

Gee, that worked out swell for everyone, didn’t it? See also, the busted flush of the “Stimulus” program, aka Obama later discovering that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.” and the Obamacare meltdown, with the former president reduced to muttering, “What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy,” and “One of the things the federal government does not do well is information technology procurement.”

But if you’re going to plan for a real battle, and not the moral equivalent thereof, having a contingency plan for what to do if things go completely pear-shaped is usually a good idea. Fortunately though, as past performance on the “Stimulus,” Iraq, and Obamacare each indicates, our current president is far too smart to let that ever happen:

* Sorry Ace.

Quote of the Day

September 12th, 2014 - 5:01 pm

In previous posts I’ve introduced the metaphor of the attrition mill–a machine in which two steel disks, rotating at high speed in opposite directions, crush between them the grain or other substance to be milled. Our society is caught in a gigantic attrition mill, with one disk being the Islamic terrorist enemy and the other being the “progressive” Left within our own societies–some of whom are wishful thinkers who deny uncomfortable realities, an alarming number of whom forthrightly despise their own societies and the majority of their fellow citizens. Without the existence of the second disk, the terrorist threat would be serious, inconvenient, and dangerous, but would not be an existential threat to Western civilization. But it is the interaction of the two disks, despite the differences in their stated philosophies of life*, that increases the societal threat by orders of magnitude.

“9/11 Plus Thirteen Years,” David Foster, the Chicago Boyz Website, yesterday.

* The key word in that sentence being stated. The two ideologies actually have much in common.