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Ed Driscoll

The Future and its Enemies

“I give you Harry Reid, Proud ‘McCarthyite,’ as CNN’s Dana Bash explicitly framed it,” Ed Morrissey writes:

REID: I don’t regret that at all. The Koch brothers — no one would help me. They were afraid the Koch brothers would go after them. So I did it on my own.

BASH: So no regrets about Mitt Romney, about the Koch Brothers. Some people have even called it McCarthyite.

REID: Well… [shrug] … they can call it whatever they want. Um … Romney didn’t win, did he?

As Ed responds, “Hey, so I smeared Romney. It worked, didn’t it?

Despicable. The Senate will likely throw him a celebration on his way out; they should be censuring him instead, especially with that arrogant admission. Reid embodies the worst of American politics, and no amount of fluffery over the next two years will disperse the stench that should attach itself to his name as long as it’s remembered at all.

Reid’s admission is “The soul of the 21st century Democratic Party laid bare,” Glenn Reynolds adds at Instapundit. “This kind of thing is surprising only if you haven’t been paying attention. And it’s not as if Reid is an outlier here, except in terms of his honesty.”

And if you haven’t been paying attention, “The End of Tolerance And Enforced Morality” by Ben Domenech of the Federalist will quickly bring you up to speed, particularly in regards to how the new strain of liberal fascism, to coin a phrase, is working against the people of Indiana. Exit quote: “When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles.”

Update: When I was prepping this post for the PJM homepage, I came across this AP file photo of Reid from the beginning of March. While the Democrat operatives with bylines at AP apparently can’t be bothered to investigate how Reid’s face was really rearranged, reading between the lines of their caption, it sounds like even they’re not buying his cover story:

harry_reid_3-31-15-1

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. talks about his future and the agenda of the Democrats who are now in the minority, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, during an interview with The Associated Press in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. Reid, 75, is wearing special glasses as part of his recovery from injuries suffered in a violent exercise accident in January. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Gotta watch out for those eye-injuring, face-bruising, jaw-swelling encounters with, err, violent exercise bands.

Fake magazines created as background props for Ridley Scott’s epochal 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner, set in 2019:


Real magazine available on newsstands in 2015:


So how far behind are Pris, Zora, and Rachel?

“I like to say I’m more conservative than Goldwater. He just wanted to turn the clock back to when there was no income tax. I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other.”

Stalinist and banjo player Pete Seeger, during a 1995 interview with the New York Times.

“When people have the power to choose, they choose wrong. Every single time.”

—Meryl Streep’s “Chief Elder” character in The Giver.

Now out on DVD and Blu-Ray is The Giver, an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s hugely influential 1993 young-adult dystopian novel, which inspired The Hunger Games and other cautionary futuristic tales. Starring Jeff Bridges in the film’s title role, Meryl Streep, newcomer Brenton Thwaites, and blink and you’ll miss her Taylor Swift, it’s a film that conservatives and libertarians should take to heart and advise all of their friends to see, to understand what lurks at the bottom of an otherwise cheery, friendly and seemingly carefree nanny state. (Spoilers abound in this article. You’ve been warned.)

“Don’t Immanentize the Eschaton” was a bumper sticker phrase that was very popular among the early readers of National Review magazine in the 1960s.  Coined in the previous decade by conservative sociologist Eric Voegelin, and popularized by William F. Buckley, the phrase warned that the goal of creating Heaven on Earth, a goal that ties together virtually all leftwing ideologies, from National Socialists in Germany to International Socialists in the Soviet Union and China to the Fabian Socialists of England to Democratic socialists in America, was invariably going to (a) end in failure and (b) very likely end with lots people loaded into boxcars on their way to becoming dead bodies.

And yet, crafting Heaven on Earth remains the goal of the left to this very day. Whether they’re based in Los Angeles or London, most actors and filmmakers have politics somewhere to the left of Mao. As James Lileks once joked, “Maybe directors like dictators because they understand the desire to have final cut.” So I’m always intrigued whenever a bunch of left-leaning filmmakers get together to produce a cautionary tale of a futuristic socialist dystopia, and I like to ask myself, what we’re they thinking they were filming?

I’ve read that the cast and crew of 1984 thought that they were taking a clever shot at Margaret Thatcher, never mind that the subjects of Orwell’s groundbreaking dystopia were dominated by an ideology he dubbed “Ingsoc,” short for English Socialism, Soviet-style Communism with a British accent. The following year, Terry Gilliam directed his similarly themed film Brazil, focusing on another slightly futuristic out-of-control socialist bureaucracy with a penchant for kidnapping, torture and murder. But then last year, Gilliam told an interviewer that Republicans “will always be a fungus and if I was running the country I would take them out and shoot them frankly, but that’s something else [laughs],” ret-conning his 1985 film from a warning into a how-to guide. Since 2012, Obama-fan Donald Sutherland has starred as the murderous President Coriolanus Snow in the Hunger Games franchise, despite doing his bit to usher in a real-life totalitarian government in Vietnam through his appearances alongside Jane Fonda in their infamous F.T.A. tour of US Army bases in 1971.

Hot on the heels of the success of the Obama-era Hunger Games franchise, last year, the Weinstein Company, not exactly known for its libertarian politics, released The Giver, starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, and directed by Phillip Noyce, whose previous films include 1989’s Dead Calm and the Tom Clancy adaptations starring Harrison Ford, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.

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Unexpectedly!

March 16th, 2015 - 1:40 pm

We’ve seen this movie before, haven’t we?

 

As far as the automated dining service, Jazz Shaw writes, “It’s a terribly impersonal service as compared to a bartender or waitress who stops to chat with you, but it gets the job done:”

I ran into one of these setups at the Philadelphia airport this winter and they work surprisingly well. If you plan to pay by credit or debit card (which is the only option in some cases) you barely interact with a human at all. You browse the drinks and food on the touch screen, place your order, swipe your card, and a short while later somebody strolls up with your food and beverage, says hello and drops them off. It’s a terribly impersonal service as compared to a bartender or waitress who stops to chat with you, but it gets the job done.

Of course, that last phrase is the big issue here, isn’t it? It gets the job done. That job used to be done by a person. Now it’s essentially a robot. So those workers are no longer on the payroll, but hopefully they’ll catch on someplace else. Unfortunately, as Seattle is finding out, employers who run single outlets and don’t have the backing and buffer range of a major chain often won’t be able to make the shift in technological infrastructure required to cut back on staffing while staying open. Those folks will shut down, and it’s apparently already beginning in Washington state.

You know… if only somebody had tried to warn them.

Unexpectedly.

Update: Jonah Goldberg explored the racialist origins of the minimum wage in his 2008 book, Liberal Fascism:

[Early "Progressive" stalwart Edward Alsworth Ross] was a showman, but his ideas fit squarely within the worldview of progressive economics, on both sides of the Atlantic. Consider the debate over the minimum wage. The controversy centered on what to do about what Sidney Webb called the “unemployable class.”It was Webb’s belief, shared by many of the progressive economists affiliated with the American Economic Association, that establishing a minimum wage above the value of the unemployables’worth would lock them out of the market, accelerating their elimination as a class. This is essentially the modern conservative argument against the minimum wage, and even today, when conservatives make it, they are accused of—you guessed it—social Darwinism. But for the progressives at the dawn of the fascist moment, this was an argument for it. “Of all ways of dealing with these unfortunate parasites,”Webb observed, “the most ruinous to the community is to allow them unrestrainedly to compete as wage earners.”30
Ross put it succinctly: “The Coolie cannot outdo the American, but he can underlive him.”Since the inferior races were content to live closer to a filthy state of nature than the Nordic man, the savages did not require a civilized wage. Hence if you raised minimum wages to a civilized level, employers wouldn’t hire such miscreants in preference to “fitter”specimens, making them less likely to reproduce and, if necessary, easier targets for forced sterilization.
And of course, even beyond its racialist origins, a high minimum wage also makes it that much more difficult for a small business to succeed in general, which “Progressives” then and now consider a feature, and not a bug.

Quote of the Day

March 11th, 2015 - 8:00 pm

Havel argues here that, in fact, cultivating an individual “sphere of truth” will ultimately destroy the totalitarian communist government. Using a simple metaphor, a grocer’s placing a “Worker’s of the World Unite” poster in his window, Havel explains how that “lie” (and similar simple acts) form both the foundation of yet ultimate weakness in his country’s communist government. The spiritual suffocation under communism is promoted by these simple, everyday acts of acquiescence. If individuals cease to participate in these lies, they are no longer bound by the communist lies and therefore, create a zone of freedom untouchable by the regime. From such “spheres of truth,” a groundswell of freedom will sweep away communist rule. Havel’s ability to create and share such powerful images through such simple (and sustained) metaphors provided the groups working against the Czechoslovakian communist rule with a powerful intellectual and moral center.

—Introduction to “The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in Central-Eastern Europe.”

Apocalypse Newark

March 9th, 2015 - 8:26 pm

By the late 1960s, an America that had been governed primarily by “liberal” politicians for much of the century seemed to be on the verge of collapse. Kennedy was assassinated in the Cold War. LBJ scaled FDR’s New Deal up to Texas-sized proportions, only to discover, the hard way, that a government that tries to do everything ends up doing everything very badly. Urban riots seemed to be omnipresent, Myron Magnet wrote in City Journal: 

In 1965, riots raged for six days in Los Angeles’s Watts ghetto, leaving over 30 dead and whole blocks in ashes; in 1967, over 40 died in the Detroit ghetto riots before the National Guard, with army reinforcements, restored order; and over 25 died in the Newark riots, in which the looters, shooters, and arsonists left $10 million of property in ruins. A year later, after Martin Luther King’s assassination, rioting raged in black neighborhoods for days in over 100 cities. Meanwhile, black radicals—most notably, the weapons-toting, cop-killing Black Panthers—were calling for armed revolution.

The riots resulted in wide swatches of “white flight” from these urban areas and decades of economic collapse. RFK and MLK were assassinated. The New Left rioted in protest of the Old Left at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. And New York went from the Mad Men swank of the early 1960s to the Death Wish/Taxi Driver/Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 nadir of the ’70s.

New Yorkers knew how badly the rot was setting in, and how Mayor John Lindsay contributed to it; as City Journal’s Fred Siegel wrote in 2010, assessing his legacy:

Lindsay’s entitlement liberalism doubled the city’s welfare rolls at a time when black male unemployment was 4 percent, so that when the economic downturn hit in 1969 and 1970, his policies—a bank tax, an income tax, a commuter tax, a stock-transfer tax, and higher real-estate taxes—made a bad situation far worse. By 1970, notes Josh Freeman, one of the contributors to the Roberts book, “Lindsay’s government employed more people than the garment, banking, and longshore industries put together.” In Lindsay’s second term, the city, reeling from rising costs and crime, bled 257,000 jobs.

It was Lindsay’s hubris and the hype that surrounded him that made his mayoralty special. Wisdom was sorely lacking. In 1972, journalist Steven Weisman, a contributor to the Roberts book, wrote that “the mayor has never been able to stop the city’s downward spiral. Services have continued to decline, division has deepened among races and economic classes, and there have been unending crises. . . . the quality of life in New York City has never seemed more bleak, its government never more sluggish, wasteful, and finally even helpless.” In 1970s New York, where just asking for a cup of coffee could get you a fat lip, the growth in crime and welfare and the decline in employment cut a generation of African-Americans off from the larger promise of American life, producing what would come to be called the underclass.

In the end, the city was worse off in 1974 than it had been when Lindsay took over in 1966. Not all the problems were of his making, of course. In fact, most predated his tenure. They worsened after he left office and were common to most other large northern cities of the period. But Lindsay, his minions in the press insisted, was supposed to be exceptional. He was elected to stop the city’s decline and rejuvenate life in New York. Instead, in the words of journalist Murray Kempton, he was a “splendid flop. . . . Failures can have their splendors and above and beyond all the variously unsuccessful Mayoralties that have been New York’s ration for the last 40 years, John Vliet Lindsay’s is the only shining failure.”

But when you’ve got a reelection on the line, how do you convince the electorate to let your administration keep their phoney-baloney jobs?

Scare the hell of the voters!

New York’s WNET-13, under the appropriately sardonic title of “Fun City Revisited,” has several minutes worth of John Lindsay 1969 campaign ads; the above two clips are my favorite. The first astonishing clip tells the voters that as bad as things are, they could always be worse — so  very, very worse that you almost expect to hear Dr. Egon Spengler telling the voters to “Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light” under the images, which look like they were filmed on the rubble-strewn Hue City set of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.

The second clip is better known; last week on Twitter, Dave Weigel of Bloomberg described it as “the classic 1969 ‘I suck’ ad,” and compared it to a new campaign ad by a more recent flailing big city “Progressive” attempting to hang on to his own phoney-baloney job, Rahm Emanuel:

Could Chicago get any worse with or without Rahm? I’ll bet plenty of New Yorkers in 1969 thought the worst was over as well.

Update: And speaking of Rahm, pass the popcorn: “Jesse Jackson backs Garcia over Emanuel for Chicago mayor.”

Go Dark

March 6th, 2015 - 11:22 am

Ben, I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Yes, sir.

Are you listening?

Yes, I am.

Silence.

Exactly how do you mean?

At Ricochet, GOP strategist Rick Wilson proffers some very simple advice to Republican politicians: “Stop talking:”

In the next two weeks, try something new; maintain discipline, hold focus, and keep an eye to a bigger objective than your daily press release. Try to play the long game, and help Hillary Clinton self-destruct.

Proceed against Clinton with a measured pace and tone. Don’t make it all about Benghazi or the record-keeping laws. Focus instead on the grave national security risks that her amateur-hour email server shenanigan posed. Do it with the sickly-sweet, sincere tone of “I just want to work in a bipartisan way for good, transparent government… and to protect national security secrets from the Chinese, Russians, and other threats” that the Acela media claims to worship.

Press the sore spots, subtly, but constantly. Use it as way to leverage discussion of the Clinton family’s infamous contempt for the law and remind the public of their their obsessive secrecy, paranoia, and habitual lawbreaking. Wonder, in serious tones, how much of the email traffic has to do with the other scandal that reporters have been desperately trying to cover up: the Clinton Foundation’s scuzzy foreign-money vacuum. Welcome the chance for Mrs. Clinton to give her side of the story in press conferences and hearings.

When you talk to the press, do it in measured tones, and avoid making wild claims about either the substance or political outcomes. Reduce expectations, rather than raise them. Be persistent. Be serious. Be smart.

This is the sort of media discipline shown by Democrat talking heads on cable TV shows that allowed the Clintons to wriggle out of so many self-made debacles in the 1990s. Republicans don’t seem anywhere near as good at playing that game. Which is too bad. “Where’s the Brutalizing Media Narrative Demanding Hillary Clinton Answer Questions?,” John Nolte asks at Big Journalism. A GOP with JournoList-level focus could force some Democrat operatives with bylines into asking those questions if only through sheer message discipline and focus. But since such a beast is impossible to imagine, as Jonah Goldberg writes in his column today, “The E-mail Scandal Won’t Doom Hillary:”

The real significance of this moment — and a partial explanation of the media firestorm over it — is that time is running out to stop the Clinton freight train.

Nothing in this story is surprising: not the desire for secrecy, nor the flouting of legal norms, nor the cynical attempts to shoot the messengers — and certainly not the staggering hypocrisy. (In 2007, then-senator Clinton denounced the Bush White House’s far more defensible use of “secret” Republican National Committee e-mail addresses for campaign business as proof that “our Constitution is being shredded.”) It’s all vintage Clinton.

At some point down the tracks, when yet another fetid cloud of Clintonism erupts into plain view, many smart liberals will look back at this moment as the time when they should have pulled the emergency brake and gotten off the Hillary train.

The unease they feel now will be nothing compared to the buyer’s remorse to come.

Because, as Charles Cooke writes elsewhere at NRO, “There is no Plan B for 2016.”

Obama: The Provincial President

March 3rd, 2015 - 6:23 pm

“Why Obama hates Netanyahu, and vice versa” is explored in a remarkable essay by Haviv Rettig Gur of the Times of Israel:

At a recent gathering of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, the eminent former director general of the Foreign Ministry, Prof. Shlomo Avineri, called Obama’s foreign policy “provincial.” It was a strange choice of words to describe the policies of a president with such a cosmopolitan outlook and so much eagerness to engage the world.

But Avineri had a point.

Obama’s remarkable memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” includes a powerful account of how his experiences as a young, keenly observant social organizer in South Chicago instilled in him the sensibility that would come to define his presidency.

In the book, he describes his reaction upon hearing the children of a poor Chicago neighborhood divided into “good kids and bad kids – the distinction didn’t compute in my head.” If a particular child “ended up in a gang or in jail, would that prove his essence somehow, a wayward gene…or just the consequences of a malnourished world?”

“In every society, young men are going to have violent tendencies,” an educator in one majority-black Chicago high school told him in the late 1980s. “Either those tendencies are directed and disciplined in creative pursuits or those tendencies destroy the young men, or the society, or both.”

The book is full of such ruminations, and they echo throughout Obama’s rhetoric as president. In his last speech to the UN General Assembly, he asserted that “if young people live in places where the only option is between the dictates of a state or the lure of an extremist underground, no counterterrorism strategy can succeed.”

For Obama, terrorism is, at root, a product of social disintegration. War may be necessary to contain the spread of Islamic State, for example, but only social reform can really cure it.

Add to this social vision the experience of a consummate outsider – half-white and half-black, with a childhood and a family scattered around the world – and one begins to see the profile of a man with an automatic empathy for the marginalized and an almost instinctive sense that the most significant problems of the world are rooted not in ideology but in oppressive social and economic structures that reinforce marginalization. This sensibility is broader than any economic orthodoxy, and is rooted in the hard experience of South Chicago.

After taking the helm of the world’s preeminent superpower in January 2009, this social organizer set about constructing a foreign policy that translated this consciousness into geopolitical action.

“The imperative that he and his advisors felt was not only to introduce a post-Bush narrative but also a post-post-9/11 understanding of what needed to be done in the world,” James Traub noted in a recent Foreign Policy essay. “They believed that the great issues confronting the United States were not traditional state-to-state questions, but new ones that sought to advance global goods and required global cooperation — climate change, energy supply, weak and failing states, nuclear nonproliferation. It was precisely on such issues that one needed to enlist the support of citizens as well as leaders.”

The world was one large Chicago, its essential problems not categorically different from those of South Chicago’s blacks, and the solutions to those problems were rooted in the same essential human capacity for overcoming social divisions and inequities. This was Obama’s “provincialism” — his vision of the world that favored the disadvantaged and downtrodden, that saw the ideological and political clashes between governments as secondary to the more universal and ultimately social crises that troubled a tumultuous world.

No wonder the gang at NBC attacks anyone using the word “Chicago” as racist; it’s the entire prism through which their God King sees the world.

Perhaps what worried Mr. Obama the most about Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking today were the inevitable comparisons of tone and style, and for good reason. As a result of watching Netanyahu, Jazz Shaw of Hot Air takes a second look at Bibi:

When the Prime Minister finished speaking today, I realized exactly how wrong I had been in assuming that this was going to be some cheap, catchpenny display. This was, as I said on Twitter in the moments following the address, one of the most powerful speeches which I have seen delivered in that chamber in the modern era. Netanyahu was the essence of many attributes so lacking in American politics today. He was gracious, not only to those who obviously support him, but to those who might disagree with him here on various policy points. (And, as I will cover below, even with those who were simply rude.) He projected wisdom and rational thought, so frequently lacking in the cheap seats of the theater of American politics. He was sincerely grateful for all that he and the nation he represents have received from the United States and for the consanguinity between our nations. He expressed confidence and hope in a lasting relationship which should be a hallmark of civilized relations in the modern world.

Above all, he was not there to be a politician as I had previously supposed. He was there to be a leader, but also a gracious ally, speaking as an equal on the world stage. He did not come with his hat in hand to ask America to save him. He reiterated that Israel could save itself, but that it would not have to stand alone as long as those with common values which embrace basic goodness stood together in sodality. It was, quite simply, one of the most moving speeches I have witnessed in many years.

I was wrong – in the worst way, since I have clearly allowed cynicism to poison the well – when I supposed that this speech was a pointless, partisan, political ploy. I think I’ve spent too long watching American politicians standing up on cable news and barking out the same tired talking points which their minions repeat ad nauseam for the mainstream media complex. I was highly impressed and felt a bit ashamed. I owe the Prime Minister an apology and I do so now.

I miss the days when America was led by a grownup who had faith in his country and its people. I hope we have that experience once again.

Related: “Dreams from Netanyahu’s Father,” from Seth Lipsky of the New York Sun and Time magazine.

‘Preparing for China’s Collapse’

March 3rd, 2015 - 12:58 pm

P.J. O’Rourke was interviewed by Peter Robinson of Ricochet and the Hoover Institute last month, and near the end of their wide-ranging conversation, Robinson asked O’Rourke about those of us in California who’ve given up on trying to reform the sclerotic dinosaur that is Sacramento. O’Rourke began his reply with this great anecdote referencing an even bigger and more dangerous ancient socialist government:

I remember going around China with a friend of mine who owned some steel foundries and a pelletized iron ore plant. He’s an American, but he lives in Hong Kong. Anyway, we’re wandering around mainland China, and I remember saying that I hadn’t heard any political discussions. Is it because people are afraid to talk about politics? He said, “no, they’re not afraid to [talk about politics]. You get ‘em started, and they’ll go on. But you’ve got understand the fundamental Chinese attitude toward government is ‘shhhhhhh….don’t wake it up when it’s sleeping.’” And I think our Millennials have a little bit of that same attitude. Fortunately, what they would wake up would not be as terrifying as [China’s cultural revolution.]

But what happens when China’s government does wake from its slumber? Steve Green writes today that the results won’t be pretty:

If a collapse should come, there is something we need to think about very seriously whether or not Washington ever heeds Mattis’s advice: The huge economic disruptions. China does in manufacturing today what America used to do, which is to move fast and scale up even faster. China moves workers and material in amounts and at speeds which are a legal and regulatory impossibility in 21st Century America. Between worker regs and the EPA, it simply isn’t possible for the US to replace China’s manufacturing ability — and there’s no other country besides us big enough and skilled enough to even try.

China’s collapse would cut a whole leg off of the global economy, with no anesthetic and no way to stop the bleeding. The loss of physical capital and manufacturing know-how would make a second Great Depression all but certain.

We need to have a plan in place to lift an awful lot of regulations, immediately, so that American business can go back to doing the kinds of things it used to do — and could do again if Big Fat Washington weren’t sitting on its chest.

In the early days of WWII, FDR asked for the impossible — that American industry build 50,000 warplanes in the first year, and 50,000 more every year after that. Nothing like it had ever been tried. But American business saw the profit potential, and FDR (for once) mostly got Washington out of the way. Sure enough, he got his airplanes.

We could do this, and avoid a global depression. The only thing stopping us is us.

I’m tempted to say “insert the Pogo quote here,” but given its origins during the rise of the American environmentalist left in the early 1970s, it was designed to stop us as well.

Related Exit Quote, via William F. Buckley: “Every ten years I quote the same adage from the late Austrian analyst Willi Schlamm, and I hope that ten years from now someone will remember to quote it in my memory. It goes, ‘The trouble with socialism is socialism. The trouble with capitalism is capitalists.’”

Susan Rice speaks to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference today, and you won’t believe what happens next! (Sorry.) As Twitchy notes, “The highlight of her speech was undoubtedly the standing ovation she received for acknowledging the desire for a complete halt to Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. The look on her face while waiting for the cheers to die down so she could add ‘but’ and finish her sentence: priceless:”

John Podhoretz responded, “So without a deal, Rice is saying, Iran will build a bomb. Also, with a deal, Iran will build a bomb. This is really astounding.” And Twitchy also quotes Bloomberg’s Dave Weigel, who tweeted, “Before Susan Rice got up to speak at AIPAC, the video screens played friendly reminders not to boo anybody.

Last night, Roger L. Simon asked, “Will Obama’s Iran Deal Be the Worst Deal Ever Made?” That is, if it even comes to pass:

 I don’t enjoy making predictions because I’m usually wrong, but this is what I suspect will transpire as of Sunday night, March 1.  A deal ultimately will not be made.  Khamenei never wanted one in the first place, only to mark time for more nuclear research.  To make a deal would, for him, undermine too many years of hating America, undercutting the rationale for his hideous regime.  BUT… Israel (specifically pushy Netanyahu), not Iran,  will be blamed for the failure by the U.S. administration and its MSM minions, led by the New York Times.  Iran will collude with this, dropping the proper hints — if it weren’t for those Israelis we would have had an agreement, but you know they can’t be trusted.  The Republican presidential candidates will be swept up in this. They better be ready, but I fear they are not.  They don’t impress me as a particularly sophisticated bunch on the international front, I’m sorry to say, and the Iranians know how to play disinformation-hardball almost as well as the Russians.  I hope I’m wrong in all this. I hope Netanyahu knocks that same hardball out of the proverbial park and with it some sense into the American public.  But I worry.

And for ever-increasing good reason.

Related: We know that, to paraphrase Sean Davis, Elizabeth Warren is off the reservation when it comes to Netanyahu’s speech tomorrow. So where does Hillary stand?

‘Let’s Destroy Liberal Academia’

March 2nd, 2015 - 2:08 pm

As I’ve long argued, while attacking media bias is both vital and fun, the real ground zero of the left is academia. Before he passed away three years ago, Andrew Breitbart talked about adding “Big Education” to the roster of Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism and Big Peace at Breitbart.com, and I’m sorry to see that element of vision never came to pass. But at Townhall, Kurt Schlichter writes that if conservatives and libertarians really want to return to controlling the overculture, academia is where they should target their efforts:

Understand that the purpose of modern American “education” is not to educate students. It is primarily to provide cushy, subsidized sinecures for liberal administrators and faculty while, secondarily, providing a forum to indoctrinate soft young minds in the liberal fetishes du jour. Actually educating students is hard, and a meaningful education is anathema to liberalism. In the liberals’ ideal world, the universities would simply fester with leftist nonsense and not even bother with trying to teach their charges anything at all. And today, it’s pretty close to being the liberals’ ideal world.

You liberal readers are foaming at the mouth right about now, furious not because I’m wrong but because I’m undeniably, absolutely, incontrovertibly right. So your next move – see, I’ve done this before, my Marxist Ceramics-majoring friend – is now to attack me personally since you never learned from your goateed TA how to argue like an adult. Your first gambit will be to impugn my own academic career. Try again – I have the academic credentials you prize so highly and with so little reason. Been there, done that, built a company, married an ex-model, and no, I don’t want to see your resume.

So save the posturing for the other gender-indeterminate members of your interpretive dance collective – most of us conservatives have endured your schools, gotten our diplomas, and now reject the scam that is modern academia. I’d suggest you call us academic apostates, but you wouldn’t know what that means without Googling it. Now fetch me my latte and I’ll drop a nice, shiny quarter in your tip jar.

As I discuss in my book Conservative Insurgency, and as others like Glenn Reynolds have observed, with modern academia we normal Americans are paying to support a suppurating abscess in our culture that, left untreated, will kill its host. We need to lance this boil and drain the leftist pus.

Modern academia is a refuge and sanctuary for the left within our culture where the inhabitants can devote their full efforts to destroying the very society that subsidizes them without having to worry about actually producing anything of value. It’s an intellectual and moral cesspool. Just look at some of the nightmares that have slithered out of our universities and into mainstream society in just the last few decades – political correctness, hook-up culture, Barack Obama.

And if Schlichter’s words don’t fire you up, perhaps this image will:

Related: The American Mind Gets Closed a Little Further.

The ‘Bam in the High Castle

February 22nd, 2015 - 3:27 pm

obama_fdr_fireside_chat_2-22-15-1

What if Obama had been president in 1939? To understand the measure of just how temperamentally unsuited Barack Obama is to the job of president, just imagine him in the role of FDR on the eve of World War II, and the language he would use to describe the Axis, which is what VDH does in his latest column at PJM, “President Franklin Delano Obama Addresses the Threat of 1930s Violent Extremism:”

“As for acts of violence in Germany itself, we must express our worry to the German government over apparent extremism, but at the same time we must not overreact. As far as these sporadic attacks on random civilians, as, for example, during the recent Kristallnacht violence, we must keep things in perspective, when, for example, some terrorists randomly targeted some folks in a store. My job is sort of like a big-city mayor, to monitor these terrorist acts that are said to be done in the name of the German people. Let us not overreact and begin to listen to radio commentators who whip us up into a frenzy as if we were on the verge of war. We must not overestimate the SS, a sort of jayvee organization that remains a manageable problem.

“Here let me just say that we must never fall into the trap of blaming the German people abroad, but especially our German community here at home. National Socialism by no means has anything to do with socialism. These terrorists are desperate for legitimacy, and all of us have a responsibility to refute the notion that groups like the SS somehow represent socialism because that is a falsehood that embraces the terrorist narrative. It is true that America and Germany have a complicated history, but there is no clash of civilizations. The notion that the America would be at war with Germany is an ugly lie.

“So make no mistake about it: National Socialism has nothing to do with Germany or the German people but is rather a violent extremist organization that has perverted the culture of Germany. It is an extremist ideology that thrives on the joblessness of Germany and can be best opposed by the international community going to the root of German unemployment and economic hard times. Let us not confuse Nazism with legitimate expressions of German nationalism. Stiff-arm saluting and jack boots are legitimate tenets of Germanism, and the German Brotherhood, for example, is a largely peaceful organization.

“So we Americans must not get on our own high horse. We, too, have bullied our neighbors and invaded them. We, too, have struggled with racism and anti-Semitism, slavery and Jim Crow. And our own culture has at times treated American citizens in the same callous way as the National Socialist do Germans. Before we castigate the Nazis, let us remember the Inquisition and the Crusades.

It’s brilliant stuff; a reminder that Obama will make a great host on MSNBC in 2017, or a great Ivy League lecturer on Ferguson or income inequality or whatever the hot lefty fad du jour is, but was a disastrous choice by the left and the pundit class (but I repeat myself) to lead the nation in 2008. Get off your high horse and read the whole thing. Because the Crusades, maaaan.

Since this seems to the weekend for both revisionist history and exploring Obama’s own fantasyland worldview, also check out Kyle Smith in the New York Post, who notes that “Sure, Obama loves America — just not the America we live in:”

Even when Obama claims to support American exceptionalism, he can’t do so without a “but.”

At West Point last year he said, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it’s our willingness to affirm them through our actions.”

That’s a strangely twisted definition: We’re only special if we stop acting as if we think we’re special?

Americans are, of course, far more skeptical of the idea that our actions must receive the blessing of international bodies. In a 2011 Pew Survey, only 45 percent of Americans said we should get UN approval before using military force. In France, Britain, Germany and Spain that number was 66 percent to 76 percent.

The reality of American exceptionalism is that it tells a story of a country very much at odds with the fantasy version preferred by Obama and other liberals, a sort of continental campus where “hate speech” is carefully controlled, everyone thinks income inequality is a big deal, government is respected or even beloved, the churches are empty and no one owns a gun.

Much to Obama’s chagrin, Americans overwhelmingly reject the idea that we’re all enrolled at the United States of Oberlin. They love America as it is.

Or to put it in graphic terms:

Live from Post-American Bandstand

January 23rd, 2015 - 11:33 am

Considering he’s known for taxpayer-funded “Obamaphones,” we shouldn’t be surprised that the president is phoning in his State of the Union addresses. In his latest column, Jonah Goldberg notes that “Six years later, Obama’s still reading from the same tired script,” and unlike say a vintage 1966 episode of the original Star Trek, it’s not a rerun worth watching:

This is Obama’s real understanding of “bipartisanship”; it is a political hack’s cudgel to unleash on your opponents, not a tool for governing. Diplomacy, Will Rogers once said, is the art of saying “nice doggie” until you can find a rock. Obama has a similar definition for gassy sound bites about cynicism.

His admirers see his speeches as ornate cathedrals of rhetoric when they are more like the kitsch from a TGI Friday’s, recycling old license plates and “gone fishin’” signs for that “authentic” feel. And just as every TGI Friday’s pretends it’s unique by adding a few bits of “flair” to the servers’ suspenders, what they dish out is always the same warmed-over swill drenched in cheesiness. So it is with Obama’s speeches.

Likewise with his policies. Before the financial crisis, Obama ran on “investing” in education, health care, renewable energy, infrastructure, and so on. After the financial crisis hit, presumably our needs changed, but not Obama’s agenda. Suddenly, what America needed to do to respond to the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression was to again “invest” in education, health care, renewable energy, and infrastructure. And now that the “shadow of crisis has passed,” as he announced on Tuesday, the same investments are needed. Why? Because he said it before, of course.

The same holds true with his foreign-policy agenda. As a candidate, Obama vowed that we needed to pull back from the War on Terror. After the rise of the Islamic State and the metastasizing of jihadist terror around the world, we must stay the course. Even when events deviate from the president’s well-worn script, what matters is that the script never change so Obama can keep talking and talking and talking.

Armed with a sky-high pompadour and Sly-Stone’s muttonchop sideburns, Alfonzo Rachel of PJTV (with an introduction from a dapper-looking Pat Boone and an amazing kitchen-sink production job supervised by Roger L. Simon) had Mr. Obama’s number over four years ago:

Tweets of the Day

January 20th, 2015 - 8:03 pm

Quote of the Day

January 19th, 2015 - 10:12 pm

It was the genius and the greatness of Dr. King then to recognize that disobedience would confront America with the flaws in its own system–that eventually people would see that it was immoral, within the context of our own belief system, to punish people for seeking the rights that they’d already been promised and, indeed, granted in the Constitution. It just was not possible to treat blacks as indecently as we did and maintain the pretext that we had a decent society. What was required, and what the Civil Rights movement achieved, was to drive that truth home to all of us in the most public and persistent way, until it could no longer be ignored. In a very real sense, he sought not to fracture society but to make it whole and healthy.

—Orrin Judd, “A More Perfect Union,” 1/20/03.

Quote of the Day

January 5th, 2015 - 5:01 pm

The theme of modern life’s alienation has been a common one among leftist thinkers, including Rousseau and Marx. (Among conservative thinkers too, but no one is surprised when they express reactionary sentiments.) One might explain such alienation in terms of evolutionary theory. Since the vast majority of human natural selection occurred when the basic social structure was the “village” or tribe, it stands to reason that most people today would retain many of the adaptations that survived in that setting, and that modern life with all its novelty, and for all its advantages, would entail considerable discontents.

But whereas philosophers engage in theory and speculation, politicians who identify a problem feel obliged to do something about it. And here is where the progressive left’s disconnect comes into sharp relief. If you’re looking for a means by which to make life less alienating, you could hardly do worse than the contemporary bureaucratic state, an entity that is efficient and impersonal at its best, brutal and impersonal at its worst.

—James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal in his latest “Best of the Web Today” column on the passing of Mario Cuomo and “The reactionary longings of the progressive left.”

Quote of the Day

January 4th, 2015 - 10:54 pm

The vast accumulations of knowledge—or at least of information—deposited by the nineteenth century have been responsible for an equally vast ignorance. When there is so much to be known, when there are so many fields of knowledge in which the same words are used with different meanings, when every one knows a little about a great many things, it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone to know whether he knows what he is talking about or not. And when we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts.

—T.S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood, 1921.

(Via K Street Hipster)

Mario Cuomo and the Descent of Political Man

January 2nd, 2015 - 12:04 pm

The left’s “Hamlet on the Hudson” is placed into perspective by Kevin D. Williamson:

Cuomo was something of a Barack Obama before his time: Like the president, Cuomo came to prominence after making a highly regarded speech at the Democratic National Convention. Like the president, he never quite figured out that there was more to his job than making speeches. Take a look at the books written by and about Cuomo, you’ll find a couple of books about Lincoln, emphasizing his oratory, and a bunch of variation on the theme More Than Words: The Speeches of Mario Cuomo and Great Speeches, Volume IV.

In 2015 anno Domini, well-spoken mediocrity goes a long way — a longer way than it did in the elder Cuomo’s day, which is why Barack Obama became president and Mario Cuomo did not.

If the Cuomo-to-Cuomo timeline traces a depressing descent in American public and intellectual life, it is far from marking the deepest decline. Consider that the Senate seat occupied by Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York subsequently was filled by Hillary Rodham Clinton and then by Kirsten Gillibrand. The phrase “decline and fall” leaps to mind when contemplating that succession. It is a pity, though, that Herself stopped pretending to be a New York politician; she would have made a much better mayor of New York City than Sandinista leftover Bill de Blasio does, the job being about the right size for her intellectual scope and well suited to her talents, which are heavy on triangulating among lefty constituencies and light on things at which a secretary of state (or, angels and ministers of grace defend us, a president) might be expected to excel.

The lines of heirs and epigones can be illuminating. Consider: Much of what is wrong and distasteful about the modern Republican party can be compressed into the fact that John McCain, an authentic war hero and authentically unbearable poseur occupies the Senate seat previously held by Barry Goldwater. Terry McAuliffe sits in a chair previously occupied by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, though that’s an unfair comparison, but George Allen looks pretty good in comparison, too. Jerry Brown, the New Age goof who occupies the governor’s mansion in California, was preceded by Jerry Brown, the New Age goof who had a couple of good ideas about taxes and budgeting, as well as by a noted organized-labor leader who went on to become president. Similarly, the line of Senate succession that led from Andrew Jackson to Lamar Alexander has had its ups and downs, its nadir being Al Gore.

Despite the increasingly primitive — and punitive — nature of our political leaders, some things in American life have actually gotten better — much better in the last half century. As Rich Lowry writes in his review of the new film Selma, its “implicit message” is that “it is not 1965:”

The temptation for the Left to live perpetually in 1965 is irresistible. It wants to borrow the haze of glory around the civil-rights movement of that era and apply it to contemporary causes. It wants to believe that America is nearly as unjust as it was then, and wants to attribute to itself as much of the bravery and righteousness of the civil-rights pioneers as possible.

Of course, 1965, the brief apogee of Lyndon Johnson’s New Deal-inspired “Great Society” was also yet another moment when America reached what Walter Russell Mead calls “Peak Left.” Only for the leftists to discover, to borrow one of their current favorite buzzwords, the ideal political world of Lyndon Johnson, Mario Cuomo and Barack Obama — a giant socialist nanny state from sea to shining sea — is unsustainable. And as we saw during the mid-t0-late ’60s and in 2014, severe cognitive dissonance can set in while the collective left collectively processes that fact.

In the “United States of Anxiety,” Kevin D. Williamson of NRO writes:

Liberal, open societies are always vulnerable to encroachments from illiberal forces with sufficient motivation, whether it’s the totalitarians in Pyongyang, the ones in Riyadh, or the ones in Cambridge, Mass. That’s especially true when elites lose their confidence in such liberal principles as free speech and freedom of conscience. As soon as you accept the premise that a person’s right to free speech (or a professor’s ability to conduct his class) is circumscribed by another person’s “right” not to be offended, then you have jettisoned principle entirely, and all that’s left is brute-force negotiation — a situation in which the partisans of liberty and humaneness always find themselves lamentably outnumbered. And if we’ve learned anything from the waning days of Harry Reid, during which Senate Democrats attempted to repeal the First Amendment, it is that our own elites do not have very much confidence in traditional American liberalism.

In “Collectivism and the presumption of guilt,” Red State’s John Hayward rounds up the First Lady’s then-and-now flashbacks of her 2011 trip to Target, Samuel L. Jackson’s cry of racism in the deaths of petty criminals Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the Australian “I’ll Ride With You” journalistic fable and similar stories and concludes:

What all of these stories, and so many others, have in common is the assumption of bad faith by liberals, who claim they can read the minds of everyone from dinner-party guests to society at large and detect the dark secret impulses seething beneath every word and deed.  The worst bad motives are assumed for every action, including something as harmless as a short woman asking a taller department-store patron to grab a box of detergent off the top shelf for her.  If events that cannot be construed as social-justice crimes are not ready to hand, the liberal will simply invent them, transforming lies into Deeper Truth with the magical power of leftist ideology.  We’re even presumed guilty of crimes no one actually committed, most notably the horrible “anti-Muslim backlash” that never actually happens after Muslim terrorists commit atrocities.

This presumption of guilt is absolutely crucial to collectivism.  The Left must teach its subjects to think of themselves as criminals.  That’s the only way law-abiding people will endure levels of coercive power that would normally require specific accusations, a fair trial, and the possibility of appeals.  Social-justice “crimes” can be prosecuted without any of those things.  There is no appeal from the sentence, and no statute of limitations on the crimes, as any left-winger who thinks today’s American citizens need to suffer for the historical offense of slavery will be happy to explain to you.  There’s no evidence you can present in your defense, for the Left has read your mind, and knows better than you what demons lurk in its recesses.

This is one reason the Left dislikes the trappings of constitutional law and order.

And increasingly, through once-respected journalistic outlets such as the New York Times, Time Magazine, the Washington Post and NBC, they’re not afraid to admit it.

obamacare_wheel_mud_big_11-3-13

“You can’t attribute the entire mess to one cause, but it certainly didn’t help [Democrat Governor Peter Shumlin's] case to have Jonathan Gruber involved in the project to the tune of roughly $400K. The voters probably weren’t looking forward to being lectured on videotape about how stupid they are in 2015:”

But perhaps the most telling feature of this staggering failure was the fact that the plan could not work without a massive influx of federal dollars. They were not able to secure a guarantee that the money would be available and the project went under. Now imagine scaling that up to a national single payer plan. Who would be available further upstream to help fund that? Nobody. The money would all have to be extracted from the taxpayers and every business in the country. And if we managed to pull it off you could soon be enjoying the benefits of waiting for years to get an appointment or some critical surgery.

Vermont is clearly a leader in socialist experimentation. In this case they may have actually provided us with a valuable lesson in what not to do.

That’s been Vermont’s primary role in the Union for well over a quarter of a century.

How bad has the state become?

As unlikely as it may seem, a prime area for heroin users is now the sleepy state of Vermont. On Wednesday [in January of 2014], Gov. Peter Shumlin’s entire State of the State address was devoted to what he called Vermont’s “full blown heroin crisis.” Vermont now has the highest rate of illicit drug use in the United States.

That bad.