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Ed Driscoll

The Future and its Enemies

Shot:

Chaser:

Hayes and the gang at MSNBC should be back to calling for more government power, spending and laws even before the pixels are dry on this post, but still, be thankful for this moment of clarity from a far leftist, no matter how fleeting. As Murray Slaughter once said when Ted Baxter had a similar moment of clarity, “When a donkey flies, you don’t blame him for not staying up that long.”

Shot:

We are experiencing a terrifying moment of authoritarianism among mainstream Democratic politicians: Harry Reid’s highly personal campaign of vicious demagoguery against Charles and David Koch is a national disgrace, but his party’s attempt to repeal the First Amendment is a national crisis. While Harry Reid wages war on free speech, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. calls for the literal imprisonment of people with the wrong ideas on climate change. These aren’t Occupy terrorists trying to blow up a bridge in Cleveland; this is the United States Senate and a man bearing one of the most famous names in American politics.

The Left no longer has a credible intellectual case for its core program of control and planning. But, as Hayek predicted, the failure of central-planning aspirations is not going to be met with a renewed sense of humility on the part of our would-be rulers, but with denunciations of enemies of the people and demands for ever-more-extraordinary powers to deal with the emergency, which is now, it goes without saying, permanent. The world is moving on from command and control; the campus of Google might as well be on a different planet from the Rayburn House Office Building, its inhabitants practically alien. Power is shifting decisively in the direction of technology, capital, and innovation, and the planners are on the verge of losing, and spectacularly.

That is what is going to make them so dangerous.

—Kevin D. Williamson, “The Unmanageable Man: When plans unravel, fists are clenched.” NRO, September 23rd.

Chaser:

And Donna Brazile, the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and Time-Warner-CNN-HBO employee, is far from the only prominent member of the left who have repeated the above thoroughly regressive mantra in recent years. Not the least of which recently being, as Williamson noted in the passage quoted above, half the Senate.

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?

Bug-outs, Then and Now

September 25th, 2014 - 8:00 pm

“Audio: Iraq War critic says Iraq withdrawal may have been the worst strategic mistake of all,” Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air:

Dexter Filkins has long been a skeptic and critic of the Iraq war, from his tenure at the New York Times to his current assignment at the New Yorker. Still, that hasn’t kept Filkins from reporting honestly on developments in the theater; in 2008, while at the NYT, he wrote extensively about the success of the surge just a few months before the presidential election. A month later, Filkins wrote again about the “literally unrecognizable” and peaceful Iraq produced by the surge. Six years later, Filkins was among the skeptics reminding people that the Iraqis’ insistence on negotiating the immunity clause for American troops was more of a welcome excuse for Obama to choose total withdrawal — and claim credit for it until this year — rather than the deal-breaker Obama now declares that it was.

Yesterday, Filkins told Hugh Hewitt that while one can argue whether the 2003 invasion was ill-advised, the total withdrawal in 2011 was the worst strategic mistake made by the US:

Gee, wait’ll he discovers what happened when some of the New Yorker’s most influential subscribers blue falconed President Ford and forced America to bug-out of South Vietnam:

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:

“The City of Seattle just passed a new trash ordinance that would fine residents and businesses for throwing away too much food,”  Charlie Spiering writes at Big Government. At NRO, Katherine Timpf adds:

The Seattle City Council voted on Monday to fine residents who do not separate food waste from the rest of their trash.

Starting next year, Seattle homeowners busted with food in the trash will be fined $1 per violation. Businesses and apartment complexes will be fined $50.

The idea is to force residents to recycle the scraps into compost bins. The council hopes the law will help the city reach its goal of a recycling rate of 60 percent by next year.

San Francisco already has a mandatory composting law.

It remains unclear whether or not Seattle law enforcement will search through residents’ trash in order to catch violators.

San Francisco already has its own garbage inspectors, praised last year by the leftist busy-bodies at the Atlantic. (In-between running advertorials from Scientology.) But ultimately of course, it’s not like Seattle and San Francisco actually want those laws to observed:

“Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against – then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.

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.

Here’s Robert Kennedy in a 1968 campaign ad that, as I wrote in 2011, shows how quickly the rot seeped into the post-JFK left. Compare RFK’s rhetoric as he tells a classroom of young kids that they are doomed to spend their adult lives trapped in a Soylent Green-style eco-apocalypse, with the can-do optimism of his brother, and it was clear that the end of the New Frontier was well in sight.

That was from my post titled “Welcome Back My Friends, to the Malaise that Never Ends,” which tracked the left’s increasing sense of lethargy from their disillusionment when it became obvious that the Great Society would fail, to their freakout over the election of Richard Nixon in 1968, to the Jimmy Carter “Malaise” speech of 1979, to Occupy Wall Street.

And the malaise goes on today! Here’s RFK Jr. revealing his “climate rage,” as our YouTube caption writer neatly described his freakout, when PJTV’s Michelle Fields asked him if he would give up his cell phone and other electrically powered devices made from a petroleum derivative (plastic) in order to lead by example. His rambling statements about the Koch brothers running the entire country from dog catcher to Congress and the cognitive dissonance that allows him to recommend “free market solutions” to the environment — which consist of all but banning automobiles — is a sight to behold:

Tom Wolfe popularized the phrase “the dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.” Similarly, the enviro-apocalpyse has been continuously been this close to descending upon the world, but as the above clips featuring RFK and RFK Jr. 46 years apart illustrate, despite a half century of Chicken Littles predicting the world will come to an end, the sky never quite seems to fall.

Perhaps it’s time for the left to update its century-old playbook on agitating the masses and enter the 21st century along with the rest of us, especially as so many examples of their not-so-final countdowns keep piling up.

Related: Mark Steyn spots “The Barbra Streisand Effect on Steroids.”

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:

‘A Bridge Too Far’

September 16th, 2014 - 1:09 pm

Jacob Weisberg of Slate reviews The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by self-admitted “European-style Social Democrat” Rick Perlstein, in Democracy Journal:

If he were willing to look more critically at the left, the way he does at the right, Perlstein might give more weight to the visible bridge of Reagan’s stated views. By the mid-1970s, the failures of Great Society liberalism were evident: Despite some popular and meaningful accomplishments like Medicaid, the poorly thought-out War on Poverty was arguably doing more harm than good. Broken welfare and public housing systems were not liberating the urban poor, but trapping a new underclass in a new kind of poverty. Crime, bad schools, and the threat of busing were driving the middle class away from America’s cities. With a top marginal rate of 70 percent kicking in at just over $100,000 for individuals (or around $275,000 in adjusted terms), income taxes were both too high and, with as many as 25 brackets, gratuitously complex. Few people paid 70 percent, of course, but the pursuit of shelters and loopholes was creating pervasive distortion in economic behavior. Delegated regulatory authority empowered unaccountable bureaucrats not only to ignore the economic cost of greater safety, but to set prices for everything from airline tickets to long-distance phone calls. Liberal government had arrived at an impasse that an interest-group-dominated Democratic Party was unable to address.

In the international sphere, similarly, Reagan’s critique of Henry Kissinger’s amoral realpolitik and detente with the Soviet Union was far from preposterous or the worldview of a simpleton. The anger of both conservatives and anti-Communist liberals over Ford’s refusal to meet with Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the summer of 1975 was fully justified—even if they were ultimately proven wrong in their negative view of the Helsinki Accords. Perlstein’s understanding of Reagan is constrained by his tendency to see conservatives as either frightening wackos or cynical manipulators. The one thing he doesn’t do in his new book, infuriatingly, is take conservative political ideas—and, by extension, the people who voted for them—seriously.

An alternative thesis is the one Perlstein seemed to be framing up with his first, shorter, and better book: that the crucial bridge in modern Republican politics was the one leading from Barry Goldwater to Reagan. Nixon was the last important President of the New Deal Era, in the same way that Bill Clinton is best subsumed under the rubric of the Reagan Era. Constraining the federal government was not a significant component of Nixon’s political rhetoric, and he left it bigger, more expensive, and more powerful than he found it. Reagan did not ultimately reduce the size of the federal government in any meaningful sense, but he did diminish its scope and ambitions in ways that continue to resonate and define contemporary Republican politics.

Beyond the plagiarism charges circulating around Perlstein over this book raised initially by Craig Shirley, the conservative author of earlier works on Reagan that Perlstein, to say the least, apparently leaned on rather heavily, Orrin Judd had the best short critique of it. Dubbing him “The Accidental Hagiographer,” Orrin writes:

As you can see here, the premise of this volume is not only hilarious but inflates Ronald Reagan into a mythical hero far moreso than any of the fawning texts we on the right produce : the gnostic reality, known only to the Left, is that America is nothing special and, for one brief shining moment, in the 70s everyone was about to realize that, but Reagan, through the exercise of little more than his personal will, restores the delusion that America is more important than other states.

If Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh had given Reagan that much credit for reshaping the world around himself, they’d be dismissed as overenthusiastic cultists.  But Reagan looms so large in the mind of the Left that Friend Perlstein can’t see he’s gone far beyond any Reagan fanboy of the right in his claims for the greatness (let’s say we use the term in its value neutral sense) of the Gipper.

Of course, as great as the Gipper ultimately was (and his ghost is still living rent free in Obama’s addled mind) he couldn’t have done it without the left making a complete hash of America in the 1970s, as Weisberg notes above. To paraphrase an old line by P.J. O’Rourke, that’s the one and only reason we should always be grateful to Jimmy Carter.

(Via John Podhoretz.)

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.

‘Where Have You Gone, Michael Moore?’

September 14th, 2014 - 6:53 pm

michael_moore_missing_milk_carton_9-14-14-1

“We should be living in a new Michael Moore moment,” Christian Toto, veteran film critic at the Washington Times and later Breitbart.com’s Big Hollywood Website, writes at his new Website, Hollywood In Toto:

He made news this week by critiquing President Barack Obama from the left, saying Obama will be remembered as the first black president, not for any significant achievements.

Isn’t that fodder for a documentary, a profile of a president who promised to fundamentally transform the country and, in Moore’s eyes, ended up being a sign of racial progress and little else?

Meanwhile, wholesale changes in the film industry are making it easier than ever to be the next Michael Moore. Filmmakers can flex a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign to raise money, tap streaming services like Netflix or iTunes to distribute content without needing theatrical access and use social media to spread the word. Moore could piggyback on all of these advances or simply flex his industry clout to make more film op-eds.

Yet Moore’s film voice is silent.

Could it be that his progressive bona fides are on the decline? He rallied on behalf of Occupy Wall Street, an archaic movement which quickly burned itself out. More recently, details of his divorce proceedings leaked, showing his Everyman image camouflaged a wealthy man who enjoyed the perks of capitalism.

Presumably aware of the fates of  Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Dinesh D’Souza, perhaps Moore doesn’t wish to become yet another filmmaker risking jail time from the regime he once championed.

Earlier: Michael Moore Now Living Out Old SNL Nixon Sketches.

Question of the Day

September 14th, 2014 - 3:46 pm

Which bumper sticker will leftists need to remove from their Prius or Smart Car in the coming weeks? “For example, this typical car spotted yesterday in Berkeley, with 2008-era bumper stickers,” as photographed by Zombie. I don’t want to steal the photo, so click over to see it:

On one side: “No Blood for Oil“; on the other: “Obama ’08.”

Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

One of those stickers simply has to be scraped off. Otherwise the cognitive dissonance would be too intense to tolerate.

But which sticker to remove?

The answer to that question may determine America’s political future in the near term.

Will anti-war liberals hold true to their unwavering belief that whenever America wages war in the Middle East, it is “for oil”? Or will they defend Obama politically as he once again sends American troops to Iraq?

Because when Obama invades Iraq, as he is about to do, you can’t have it both ways.

As former Democrat National Comittee chairman Howard Dean once claimed, “I will use whatever position I have in order to root out hypocrisy.” Given the left’s utter obsession on the topic, it’s fun to call them out, but the cognitive dissonance that led to Obama’s coronation in 2008 could lead to far worse things as well.

“Obama’s Ship is Sinking,” Michael Goodwin writes in the New York Post today. “I fear, we are on the cusp of tragedy,” he warns. It is reasonable to assume the worst-case scenarios about national security are growing increasingly likely to occur:”

Obama’s fecklessness is so unique that our adversaries and enemies surely realize they will never face a weaker president. They must assume the next commander in chief will take a more muscular approach to America’s interests and be more determined to forge alliances than the estranged man who occupies the Oval Office now.

So Vladimir Putin, Iran, China, Islamic State, al Qaeda and any other number of despots and terrorists know they have two years to make their moves and advance their interests, and that resistance will be token, if there is any at all.

Throw in the fact that Europe largely has scrapped its military might to pay for its welfare states, and the entire West is a diminished, confused opponent, ripe for the taking. Redrawn maps and expanded spheres of influence could last for generations.

Of course, there is a possibility that America could rally around the president in a crisis, and there would be many voices demanding just that. But a national consensus requires a president who is able to tap into a reservoir of good will and have his leadership trusted.

That’s not the president we have.

Long before the media tied their collective panties into knots over the Tea Party, Obama’s self-described “non-official campaign” staffers worked exceedingly hard in 2007 and 2008 at dividing America, dubbing anyone who was against him as racist, all the way to Bill and Hillary Clinton — and the workaday Democrat Americans who supported them in the primaries. Between alienating both sides of the aisle in Congress with his aloofness, pitting the rest of America from 2007 until today against itself and most recently angering his dove-ish BUSH SUX MAN! supporters by threatening ISIS, Obama’s has burned through an enormous amount of political capital and good will.

Perhaps with only a couple of years left in his administration, he didn’t think he’d need very much of it by now.

But in regards to Zombie’s statement that “when Obama invades Iraq, as he is about to do, you can’t have it both ways,” of course you can — if there’s a (D) after your name, you can flip-flop and contort your ideology — 360 degrees or more, as Maxine Waters might say — on every issue like you were John Kerry catching some really tasty waves on his windsurfing rig:

Nahh, just kidding. The legendary San Francisco moonbat told Time-Warner-CNN-HBO spokesman Bill Maher last night that “Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if the Republicans win the Senate,” Chuck Ross writes at the Daily Caller:

On the one hand, California U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi claims that Democrats are not “fear-mongers;” on the other hand, she believes civilization is doomed if Republicans take control of the Senate from Democrats in November.

The former speaker of the House made those dramatic, incongruous statements on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” which aired live from Washington, D.C. Friday.

Maher asked Pelosi about recent polling which shows that the GOP is likely to take over the upper chamber and asked, given gridlock in Washingon, why it matters that Democrats keep control.

“It would be very important for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate,” Pelosi told Maher. “Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if the Republicans win the Senate.”

Democrats currently hold 53 seats in the Senate. Republicans have 45. Two independents caucus with Democrats.

Maher asked about voter turnout for Democrats, which he asserted was too low to carry the party in the mid-term.

“Nobody comes about to vote to say ‘thank you,’” Maher said. “The people who get health care now — they’re the people least likely to vote. The people who come out to vote are the angry people.”

“That’s true,” said Pelosi. “Fear is a motivator, and we are not fear-mongers. The Democrats are messengers of hope, and that’s what we will continue to be.”

So just to confirm: the left aren’t fear-mongers, they’re messengers of hope, but civilization is doomed if the Senate is controlled by those who wish your taxes were three or four percent lower. Gotcha.

And note Nancy’s incredible timing, given the recently retired president’s speech this week on the hash he’s made of Iraq:

Related: Steve Hayward at Power Line on “What’s Wrong With California in One Map.”

And at Twitchy, what else does Nancy Pelosi endanger?

Symmetrical Sophistry

September 12th, 2014 - 10:19 pm

“There Are Now 52 Explanations For The Pause In Global Warming,” Michael Bastasch of the Daily Caller writes:

It’s been a busy year for climate scientists, who have been trying to explain why there has been no global warming for nearly two decades.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported in February there were eight mainstream explanations for the pause, but there are now a whopping 52 explanations for why there has been no warming trend for the last 215 months.

Which oddly makes sense: the savants of settled science are proffering almost as many explanations as to why there’s no global warming as the number of maladies supposedly caused by global warming.

I blame Leonard Nimoy.

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.

From a Command Economy to a Command Reality

September 12th, 2014 - 1:24 pm

“Democratic thinking [typically unfolds] in three stages,” Jeff Bergner writes in “The Party of Reason?” at the Weekly Standard:

1) Policy is predicated on reality as one wishes it to be, not as it is. (2) That policy fails. And (3) its advocates explain the failure by demonizing their opponents. The demonization of political opponents to cover policy failures is an all too reliable indicator that the policies rest on unsound, anti-scientific, irrational foundations.

As Bergner concludes:

Because the left wishes to eliminate poverty by redistribution, it assumes reality can be made to conform. Because it judges fossil fuels bad, they must be allowed no future. Because it insists on human causation for global warming, dissenters must be hounded. Because the left favors unrestricted access to abortion, a woman’s right to choose must be enshrined.

The words of today’s political left are much like ancient incantations. They are magic. But there is one difference: Ancient incantations reflected an underlying belief in an external world that was difficult to control, a world in which humans had at best a modest measure of influence.

Liberals have long favored the notion of a command economy; today they operate in nothing less than a command reality. For the modern liberal, we humans have the power to deconstruct and reconstruct reality as we please. In this brave new world, words are all that is required for a new reality to leap into existence. To speak about an issue is to resolve it. Good intentions suffice. If the results of programs created with good intentions disappoint, it doesn’t matter. Disastrous policy results do not reflect a misunderstanding of reality, but the evil machinations of political opponents.

This of course is not reason; it is hubris. The great power of modern science arises from the understanding that we gain a degree of mastery over natural forces and ourselves only by conforming our thoughts and actions to the nature of reality itself. The incantations of the modern left notwithstanding, reality is not easily bent by words alone.

No, sometimes really devastating magical thinking requires the willing aid of a faux newscaster as well: