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YOUR DAILY TREACHER: If You’re a Misogynist, the New Terminator Movie Will ‘Scare the F*** Out of You.

This is a brave stance, considering how notoriously misogynistic sci-fi fans are. They’ve avoided the Terminator series, the Alien franchise, the Star Wars movies, every single one of the Hunger Games, Mad Max: Fury Road… If it’s got a girl in it, genre fans don’t want to see it!

Well, too bad, woman-haters. Women get to be in movies now, and there’s nothing you can do about it except stay home.

Remember: If you don’t pay to see a movie with a woman in it, that means you hate women. And if you pay to see a movie with a woman in it and you give it anything less than effusive praise, that means you hate women. And if you disagree that these things mean you hate women, you definitely hate women.

Now go see this movie and like it, you stupid pigs!

Heh. That strategy paid continually decreasing returns for Disney’s reboot of the Star Wars franchise — unexpectedly.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: In the Culture Wars, Be a Sancho Panza, Not a Don Quixote.

“Look there, friend Sancho, and behold thirty or forty outrageous giants, with whom, I intend to engage in battle, and put every one of them to death…for, it is a meritorious warfare, and serviceable both to God and man, to extirpate such a wicked race from the face of the Earth.”

“What giants do you mean?” said Sancho Panza.

“Those you see yonder,” replied his master, “with vast extended arms; some of which are two leagues long.”

“I would your worship would take notice,” replied Sancho, “that those you see yonder are no giants, but wind-mills; and what seem arms to you, are sails; which being turned with the wind, make the mill-stone work.”

“It seems very plain,” said the knight, “that you are but a novice in adventures.”

* * * * * * * *

There seems to be a discrepancy here. If all these public intellectuals are as dangerous as these claims suggest, why are we not progressing toward a dystopia—something like Nazi Germany, or Panem from The Hunger Games? Canada, my own country, recently was cited in a Social Progress Imperative report as being among the most progressive countries in the world, according to an analysis of factors that include personal rights, personal freedoms and choice, and inclusiveness. That seems inconsistent with the state of high anxiety that animates Alternative Influence.

There are, of course, dangerous people in the world, spreading genuinely dangerous ideas and doing real damage. Among these are actual white supremacists like the gunmen who shot and killed 50 people at the Linwood Islamic Centre and the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. These concerns are real, and need to be continually confronted. But the existence of such concerns does not explain why mainstream conservatives, libertarians and even classical liberals are now being lumped in with the worst elements of humanity. Why are so many seemingly respectable intellectuals and institutions tilting at windmills?

Don Quixote, I believe, may provide something of an answer. The novel is animated by the juxtaposition between Quixote’s old world of faith and certainty, and the complex modern age that Cervantes and his contemporaries were beginning to embrace in the 17th century.

Read the whole thing.

ANSWER: YES. Democrats want end to Electoral College. Is it idiocracy or a rush to the ‘Hunger Games’?

ANALYSIS: TRUE. It’s Time To End the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. “Michelle Wolf’s jokes weren’t particularly funny or offensive, but they – and the media’s outraged reaction – belie an event whose best days were long ago.”

The Washington press corps is verging on becoming nothing but Caesar Flickermans, all the way down.

HUNGER GAMES POLITICS: Michael Barone: Capital versus countryside in France’s election.

The election in France, which I wrote about yesterday was a contest between the capital city and the historic heartland, a pattern we’ve seen in elections in multiple countries over the past year, and often in contradiction to traditional party lines.

I first wrote about this in a Washington Examiner column last October, noting the pattern in the results of the June 23 Brexit referendum in Britain the Oct.2 paz referendum in Colombia, and in the polling in the U.S. presidential race. In a column that went online the day after the U.S. voted, I noted that the pattern held here and produced Donald Trump’s astounding victory, and in a column a week later I pointed out that the key vote shifts away from the Democrats came in the Midwest and Pennsylvania outside million-plus metro areas.

In France, there was a clear distinction between metro Paris, a baker’s dozen of cities described as economically vibrant by Christopher Caldwell in his brilliant City Journal pre-election article (a must read) and the rest of the nation. Metro Paris cast 14 percent of the nation’s votes, the 13 cities another 7 percent and the rest of the country 80 percent.

Self-serving elites have gotten excessively greedy across the world, and they have spurred a reaction.

ILYA SOMIN: “Judge Neil Gorsuch is a well-respected jurist and a better Supreme Court nominee than I expected from Donald Trump.” Ilya’s biggest concern is that Gorsuch is too big a fan of judicial restraint, and insufficiently willing to strike down unconstitutional laws.

UPDATE: Ted Cruz likes Gorsuch.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh: Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on religious freedom.

Sasha Volokh: Neil Gorsuch, fortunately. “Generally, I don’t have any expectation that Trump will do the right thing, so I’m unexpectedly pleased that — of the three judges who were apparently on Trump’s short list — Judge Gorsuch is probably the best on civil liberties issues.” Well, live and learn.

Plus: “Oh, and — what’s the best Gorsuch line? ‘Ours is not supposed to be the government of the Hunger Games with power centralized in one district, but a government of diffused and divided power, the better to prevent its abuse.'”

MORE: A reader sends this suggestion: “Mitch McConnell should announce that he does not think there is any basis for a filibuster of Gorsuch, and that if the Democrats filibuster him, the majority will eliminate the filibuster not only for Sup Ct appointees but for legislation as well.” I predict the Dems will keep their powder dry this time.

“CONGRATULATIONS, MR. PRESIDENT.” And it’s done. A surprisingly good and somber ceremony, with a real 19th-Century flair, from the second verse of America the Beautiful (“and crown thy soul with self-control, thy liberty in law”) to even Schumer’s reading of a letter from a heroic (Republican?) Civil War soldier.

Note that Trump’s supporters didn’t boo Obama, as Obama’s booed Bush 8 years ago.

UPDATE: Well, that speech shows that Trump is still Trump. Barack and Michelle Obama didn’t look like they enjoyed it. Bill Clinton’s reaction seemed more . . . calculating.

MORE: “A Hunger Games inaugural address.”

STILL MORE: Here’s the text of Trump’s speech.


When it comes to Donald Trump, University of Texas law professor Sanford Levinson doesn’t shy away from using the s-word or even the c-word.

Secession. Coup. The United States would not be immune to such political upheavals with Mr. Trump occupying the White House, says Prof. Levinson.

Among the nation’s most prominent constitutional scholars, Prof. Levinson says a coup d’état would be very unlikely — a one in 1,000 chance, he estimated — but not impossible should a Trump administration display a “dangerous militaristic adventurism.”

And a coup, Prof. Levinson said, “is not something I’m advocating except under the worst case.”

The notion of a liberal state like California splitting from the republic seems more plausible to him. Why should a state like California “remain a member of this union when the president is a raving narcissist that some describe as a sociopath?” he said.

In this extraordinary election season, law professors and constitutional scholars are venturing into extraordinary realms of discourse.

Every election now, somebody’s talking about secession. But at least this is good publicity for my paper on coups in America.

And — because I’ve been way ahead of the curve on this — here are some thoughts on secession:

People also talk about secession for more serious reasons. They feel that the central government doesn’t respect them, forces them to live under laws they find repugnant and takes their money away to pay off its own supporters. You see secession movements based on these principles in places like Scotland, Catalonia, Northern Italy, and elsewhere around the world. Some might succeed; others are less likely to. But in every case they represent unhappiness with the status quo.

America has an unfortunate history with secession, which led to the bloodiest war in our history and divisions that persist to this day. But, in general, the causes of secession are pretty standard around the world: Too much power in the central government, too much resentment in the unhappy provinces. (Think Hunger Games).

So what’s a solution? Let the central government do the things that only central governments can do — national defense, regulation of trade to keep the provinces from engaging in economic warfare with one another, protection of basic civil rights — and then let the provinces go their own way in most other issues. Don’t like the way things are run where you are? Move to a province that’s more to your taste. Meanwhile, approaches that work in individual provinces can, after some experimentation, be adopted by the central government, thus lowering the risk of adopting untested policies at the national level. You get the benefits of secession without seceding.

Sound good? It should. It’s called federalism, and it’s the approach chosen by the United States when it adopted the Constitution in 1789. As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

It’s a nice plan. Beats secession. Maybe we should give it another try.

Hey, it’s an idea so crazy it just might work.

UPDATE: From a friend on Facebook: “Relax. Four years ago, Romney was Hitler too.”

6 REASONS FOR TRUMP’S RISE that no one talks about. “Step outside of the city, and the suicide rate among young people fucking doubles. The recession pounded rural communities, but all the recovery went to the cities. The rate of new businesses opening in rural areas has utterly collapsed. . . . If you don’t live in one of these small towns, you can’t understand the hopelessness. The vast majority of possible careers involve moving to the city, and around every city is now a hundred-foot wall called ‘Cost of Living.’ . . . And if you dare complain, some liberal elite will pull out their iPad and type up a rant about your racist white privilege. . . . It really does feel like the worst of both worlds: all the ravages of poverty, but none of the sympathy. . . . The rural folk with the Trump signs in their yards say their way of life is dying, and you smirk and say what they really mean is that blacks and gays are finally getting equal rights and they hate it. But I’m telling you, they say their way of life is dying because their way of life is dying. It’s not their imagination. No movie about the future portrays it as being full of traditional families, hunters, and coal mines. Well, except for Hunger Games, and that was depicted as an apocalypse.”

Try to guess where this article appears without mousing over the link.

ACE OF SPADES: TRUMP ISN’T THE REAL POPULIST — IT’S THE ELITES RUNNING OUR INSTITUTIONS, Relentlessly Undermining Our Institutions (Which They Hold to be Corrupt and Racist), Who are the Real Populists. And the Dangerous Ones.

Read the whole thing.

Related: Why The Elites Are Really Populists At Heart.

Flashback from Glenn in USA Today: When rulers despise the ruled: It’s like The Hunger Games: the Capital City, and its hangers-on, flourish, while the provinces starve.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: The Hunger Games – Valparaiso Law Edition. “Schools like Valparaiso essentially face the following choice: Admit a large number of marginal students, or shut down.”

THEY’RE NOT SMART ENOUGH TO BE NERDS, AND IT’S NOT A PROM: The Hill: It’s Time To End “Nerd Prom.” “In theory, the purpose of the dinner is to celebrate the value of a free and fearless White House press corps by setting aside one evening when those who cover the White House can sit down and break bread with the president, as reporters first did with President Calvin Coolidge in 1924, plus hand out a few scholarships. But today’s dinner is little more than an opportunity for out-of-town celebrities to strut their stuff.”

It does provide an instructive window into the Hunger Games-like culture of America’s capital though, and the participants are unself-conscious enough to let that really show.

JOURNALISTS AND PUNDITS THINK IT’S A BIGGER DEAL THAN IT IS, BECAUSE OF WHERE THEY LIVE: The surprisingly narrow reality of America’s urban revival.

Census population data show that suburban America is, once again, outgrowing central cities. Even exurban counties, those beyond suburban areas, are gaining population faster than urban ones, for the second year in a row. And the growth that the densest places in the country have enjoyed since the housing bust is actually slowing down.

If there’s a back-to-the-city renaissance underway in America, it’s hard to find in these broad population trends — which doesn’t make much sense if you live in the middle of Washington.

Clearly, something big has been happening in the District. The construction cranes prove as much. Whole neighborhoods have been redeveloped, and urban housing prices have skyrocketed. Demographics have perceptibly shifted in the blocks right around the city’s metro stops. The District’s population has grown by about 90,000 people in the last decade.

If there is an urban revival anywhere, it’s happening here.

The issue is that it’s happening almost nowhere else in this very big country.

Well, the Capital City in The Hunger Games was doing pretty well, too. Also, urban growth depends more than anything else on perception that crime is under control. Two years of Black Lives Matter theatrics, coupled with hapless mayors ike De Blasio in New York or Emanuel in Chicago, and the suburbs look pretty good.

HUNGER GAMES, AMERICAN STYLE: Sasha and Malia Obama Wore $20K Dresses to the Canada State Dinner. When teenagers wear dresses that cost more than many Americans make, it’s easy to see why Bernie and Donald are getting traction.

VIRTUE-SIGNALING IS NOT A POLICY: The Moral Rot at the Heart of “Refugees Welcome.”

Chancellor Faymann may just be acting politically to defend a policy that polls well, rather than having had a moral epiphany. But his comment cuts to the heart of the moral and intellectual hypocrisy of the “Refugees Welcome” policy: the pro-refugee factions, which see themselves as humanitarian paragons, have nonetheless managed to devise a program which in reality boils down to “if you survive the trip here, you’re welcome to stay.” . . .

If you don’t want to use ships and ferries, then feel free to fly the refugees. A direct, one-way plane ticket from Istanbul to Berlin this Friday can be found for as little as $44. People smugglers, on the other hand, will charge between $800–$1300 (and up) for a seat on a rubber raft from Turkey to Greece. Then there’s the $335-435 charge to get between certain countries in the Balkans and southern Europe. And at each leg, there’s a chance of death—by drowning, by suffocating in a truck.

So if it’s true that “refugees welcome”, why not just let them fly? Because an increasingly restive German public would go ballistic—but also because even the supporters of Angela Merkel’s policies know that Germany does not have the means to house and feed, much less employ and integrate, the numbers that would then come. Yet until recently, speaking of restrictionism was taboo among the German and European elite; even now, movement toward embracing deterrence—toward sending real signals that the journey north won’t be worth it and so not to come—progresses only slowly and haltingly in Berlin and Brussels.

Right now, a series of do-gooder decisions have turned the journey from Syria and Africa to northern Europe into the Hunger Games. Is that really what moral policy looks like?

Virtue-signaling is never about real world consequences. And the more people virtue-signal, the less virtuous they tend to be.

AS AMERICA INCREASINGLY RESEMBLES THE HUNGER GAMES: A Taxing Oscars: $232,000 Swag Bags (40% Increase Over Last Year’s).

It’s clearly time that we repeal the Hollywood Tax Cuts!

DON’T ALL YOUNG PEOPLE WANT TO PLAY IN THE HUNGER GAMES? 13 Reasons Millennials Should Vote FOR Bernie Sanders.

Related: “Where the girls aren’t.”

‘HALLOWEEN’ AND THE DEATH OF THE SLASHER FILM: At Acculturated, Sonny Bunch posits that the young people in a dystopian future genre has largely displaced the teen slasher movie at the box office:

The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent: These are all series in which teenagers are thrown into horrifying, life-or-death experiences not because they are bad or immoral but because their parents have created a world that’s not worth living in. If the slasher flick exists as a way for adults to express their concern over the uncontrollable behavior of the nation’s kids, then the teen dystopia serves as a means for adults to worry about the world they’re leaving behind.

Whereas the slasher flicks concerned themselves with adolescent issues—who’s screwing who; who’s getting the beer—the teen dystopia concerns itself with a much more middle-aged host of concerns: economic inequality and environmental degradation and class structures, oh my!

To be fair, Meryl Streep’s Hillary-esque answer at the climax of last year’s dystopian film The Giver sums up both genres rather well: “When people have the power to choose, they choose wrong. Every single time.”

REPEAL THE HOLLYWOOD TAX CUTS: Yelling ‘Cut!’ for Moviemaking Tax Breaks: States keep discovering that the dreamed-of benefits don’t materialize.

Lights, camera, tax credits! Apparently that’s how movies are shot in the 21st century. Hardly any major box office hit in recent years—from “Iron Man 3” to “The Hunger Games” to “Jurassic World”—made it to the silver screen without a hand from taxpayers. Yet negative reviews of these programs keep rolling in. North Carolina and Florida are examples that illustrate how difficult it is to let this corporate welfare fade to black.

Film tax incentives first took the stage in Louisiana in 1992. By 2009, 44 states and Puerto Rico had such programs. Film tax credits are expected to cost state taxpayers $1.8 billion this year, according to the Tax Foundation.

Many states offer refundable credits, say, for 20% of production costs. So when studios don’t owe taxes, they receive a cash payment. Other states, such as Georgia and Louisiana, even offer transferrable credits that studios can sell to another company—regardless of industry—seeking to lower its tax bill.

Proponents argue that film tax credits create well-paying jobs for local residents. Some even suggest that the incentives pay for themselves by boosting the economy and increasing government revenues. The Motion Picture Association of America claims: “Pure and simple: film and tax incentives create jobs, expand revenue pools and stimulate local economies.”

But real life is no Hollywood dream. Nearly every independent study has found that these arguments are more fiction than fact. The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities put it best in a 2010 report: “State film subsidies are a wasteful, ineffective, and unfair instrument of economic development.”

No kidding. North Carolina and Florida, where we live, illustrate this reality. Mainly thanks to filming taking place in Wilmington, with its serene marshes, North Carolina began offering film tax credits in 2005. Lawmakers expanded the program in 2010 to cover 25% of a production’s cost up to $20 million, if the production spent at least $250,000 in the state. This cost taxpayers a high of $83.3 million in 2012.

A 2014 study by the North Carolina General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division found that much of this money went down the drain: “For every dollar North Carolina allocates to the state film production credit it loses 54 cents.”

The jobs picture was bleaker. Looking at 2011, the Fiscal Research Division found $30 million in credits created 55 to 70 new jobs with a total payroll of $2 million. State taxpayers forked over between $429,000 and $545,000 a job, and these positions paid an average salary of $36,000 a year. It would be more sensible to give 100 unemployed people briefcases with $100,000 in cash.

Don’t give them any ideas. I wrote about this back in 2013, but states do seem to be catching on. It’s all really about letting state politicos hobnob with Hollywood types, with taxpayer money as bait.

NOT YET, BUT OBAMA IS TRYING: Victor Davis Hanson, “Is the West Dead Yet?

Immigration is a one-way Western street. Those who, in the abstract, damn the West — as much as elite Westerners themselves do — want very much to live inside it. The loudest anti-Western voices in the Middle East are usually housed in Western universities, not in Gaza. Jorge Ramos is a fierce critic of supposed American cruelty to illegal immigrants — so much so that he fled Mexico for America, became a citizen (how is that possible, given American bias against immigrants?), landed a multimillion-dollar salary working for the non-Latino-owned Spanish-language network Univision, and then put his kids in private school to shield them from hoi polloi of the sort he champions each evening. Now that’s the power of the West. . . .

But as in mid-fifth-century Athens and late-republican Rome, there are signs that the West is eroding — and fast. The common Western malady is age-old and cyclical. . . . In the case of modern America, Britain, and Europe, the sheer material bounty spawned by free-market capitalism and legally protected private property, combined with the freedom of the individual, creates a sort of ennui. Boredom is the logical result of that lethal mix of affluence and leisure. .  . .

Take the ongoing mass exoduses from the Third World into Europe and the United States. . . .But note that no elite Westerner wants to face the cause of the malady: namely, that the failure in the Third World to adopt Western ideas of consensual government, equality between the sexes, free-market capitalism, individual liberty, and transparent meritocracy logically leads to mayhem and poverty. . . .

But it is worse than that: Western elites deny their own exceptionalism, and deny any reason for their own privilege other than the easy private guilt of citing the Holy Trinity of “race/class/gender.” . . .

The first casualty in a bored and would-be-revolutionary society is legality. And certainly in the West the law — whose sanctity built Western civilization — has become a joke. New Confederate-style nullificationists in San Francisco demand that federal immigration statutes not apply to their sanctuary city, even as they insist that a minor clerk in Kentucky be jailed for nullifying a Supreme Court edict allowing gay marriage. Kim Davis should indeed be jailed for obstructing a federal mandate, but only after the neo-Confederate nullificationist mayor, Board of Supervisors, and sheriff of San Francisco. . . .

What the West worries about is not poverty, but disparity: No one argues that the rioters at Ferguson did not have smartphones, expensive sneakers, hot water in their homes, air conditioning, and plenty to eat — it’s just that they did not have as many or as sophisticated appurtenances as someone else. Michael Brown was not undernourished or in need of the cigars he lifted. . . .

Virtually every American must palpably sense the country’s rapid decline since President Obama assumed office. It’s not just economic stagnation; it’s a moral, religious, cultural and legal free fall that turns the stomach. That’s why the 2016 presidential election isn’t so much about needing an “experienced” politician (i.e., someone who cares more about being a member of the D.C. club than listening to Americans living outside D.C.), or even the candidates’ positions on particular issues.

It’s about a desperate, visceral longing for someone who believes that America is the greatest force for good on earth, that it occupies a special position of power that in large part determines the stability and prosperity of the globe, and that its own goodness and quest for fairness should not be used against it by those who plot to destroy it from within.

As we free fall from the Obama era of weakness and indecision, Americans’ top priority seems to be avoiding career politicians whose well-rehearsed, mellifluous, politically correct words instinctively smack of arrogance, weakness, guilt, insincerity or paternalism. D.C. has turned into the Capitol city portrayed in the Hunger Games–corrupt, privileged, arrogant, condescending, manipulative, shallow, materialistic, weak, and utterly ignorant of the needs of those who live beyond its borders.

The political class has forgotten who is actually “boss” in our constitutional republic– We the People outside of D.C.  The boss is now interviewing presidential candidates to ascertain who understands this basic principle, and accepts that the job description entails being the leader of ordinary (not merely elite) Americans, and a staunch defender of American interests.

The political elites in this country are apoplectic that their “insider” candidates are doing so poorly. The rest of the country is enjoying the fact that they have choices other than candidates who espouse the same old interchangeable, predictable, politically correct B.S.


HOLLYWOOD IS SO SEXIST: MSNBC weeps for poor Jennifer Lawrence, who only made $52 million last year.

Let’s all take a moment to shed a tear for poor, poor Jennifer Lawrence — the Hollywood actress only pulled in $52 million over the past 12 months.

Forget that Lawrence is the top-paid female actress in the world. Forget that she is the second-highest-paid actor overall. Forget that she makes approximately 2000 times the median U.S. salary.

No, MSNBC wants us all to focus on the travesty that she made $30 million less than the highest-paid actor in the world: Robert Downey Jr.

In the past 12 months (I’m actually going back further to include all of 2014), Lawrence has starred in three movies: “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Serena” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.” Downey has starred in three as well: “Chef,” “The Judge” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

If you want evidence that feminism is about the concerns of upper-class women, well. . . .

SO ALL THE TALK ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR, coupled with the recent Scottish vote and now Greece and the EU has me thinking: If a state or states wanted to secede from the United States now, would there be another civil war? It was basically unthinkable — at least, as far as I know, nobody thought it — that Britain might use troops to keep the Scots in by force. The EU isn’t talking about sending gunboats to Greece. So if, say, Texas — or maybe a group of states — really wanted to leave the Union today, would the United States really be willing to, once again, slaughter vast numbers to prevent that?

Of course, there’s a better solution.

People also talk about secession for more serious reasons. They feel that the central government doesn’t respect them, forces them to live under laws they find repugnant and takes their money away to pay off its own supporters. You see secession movements based on these principles in places like Scotland, Catalonia, Northern Italy, and elsewhere around the world. Some might succeed; others are less likely to. But in every case they represent unhappiness with the status quo.

America has an unfortunate history with secession, which led to the bloodiest war in our history and divisions that persist to this day. But, in general, the causes of secession are pretty standard around the world: Too much power in the central government, too much resentment in the unhappy provinces. (Think Hunger Games).

So what’s a solution? Let the central government do the things that only central governments can do — national defense, regulation of trade to keep the provinces from engaging in economic warfare with one another, protection of basic civil rights — and then let the provinces go their own way in most other issues. Don’t like the way things are run where you are? Move to a province that’s more to your taste. Meanwhile, approaches that work in individual provinces can, after some experimentation, be adopted by the central government, thus lowering the risk of adopting untested policies at the national level. You get the benefits of secession without seceding.

Sound good? It should. It’s called federalism, and it’s the approach chosen by the United States when it adopted the Constitution in 1789. As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

It’s a nice plan. Beats secession. Maybe we should give it another try.

Maybe we should. But the problem with federalism is, it offers insufficient opportunities for graft.

OBAMA VISITS WISCONSIN, SMEARS WALKER: President Obama is visiting the Badger State today, greeted at the airport by Gov. Scott Walker. Despite Walker’s hospitality, it didn’t take long for the Campaigner-in-Chief to take the lame duck presidential gloves off and attack Walker and the GOP policies he’s implemented:

He said neighboring Minnesota had raised the minimum wage, implemented all-day kindergarten and made it easier to go to college while raising taxes on the top two percent. Obama said the results are that Minnesota has a lower unemployment rate and $9,000 higher median income than its neighbor.

Obama said all of the Republicans running — he joked that he’s lost track of how many and suggested they could start their own Hunger Games (video) — all have the same governing agenda of giving breaks to the rich while everyone else is on their own. That’s the same policies, Obama said, that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

He even joked that the Republicans were like having a crazy Uncle Harry — somebody you love but “you don’t want to put in charge.”

And he said that the fight is also about values.

“Being an American is not about taking as much as you can from your neighbor before they take as much as they can from you,” he said. “We are not a bunch of individuals out here on our own. We are a community, we are family. We are all in this together.”

Ah yes, it’s always heartwarming to hear the Dear Leader President speak of communist communitarian values that are so deeply antithetical to the individualist values upon which this country is based. And of course it’s much better, for a republic such as ours, to have only one candidate for President rather than a choice. Who wants a choice anyway–that’s so Hunger Games and individualistic, to have a bunch of competitors vying for the nomination.  As for a “crazy Uncle Harry,” let’s just say that “crazy Uncle Joe,” even crazier “Uncle Bernie,” and the pathological liar-cat lady “Aunt Hillary” aren’t individuals I would want to have the metaphorical keys to the nuclear arsenal, either.

RELATED: Scott Walker’s retort: Welcome to Wisconsin, Mr. President.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Law School Hunger Games? Profs Debate The Ethics Of Conditional Scholarships.

EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG WITH WASHINGTON: The White House Correspondents’ Dinner: “Everyone knows the White House Correspondents Association dinner is broken. What started off decades ago as a stately formal celebration of the best of presidential reporting has morphed into a four-day orgy of everything people outside the Beltway hate about life inside the Beltway—now it’s not just one night of clubby backslapping, carousing and drinking between the press and the powerful, it’s four full days of signature cocktails and inside jokes that just underscore how out of step the Washington elite is with the rest of the country. It’s not us (journalists) versus them (government officials); it’s us (Washington) versus them (the rest of America).”

It’s no surprise to anyone who has seen The Hunger Games.

Jay Rosen writes: “True! And yet they keep doing it. Why?” Contra Rosen’s predictable take, it’s not Bush’s fault. Thronesniffers gotta throne-sniff. And this is how these people get revenge for not receiving the adulation they think they deserved in High School.

Related: When Washington fiddled while Baltimore burned. “So, where were the cable networks on Saturday night as Baltimore was rocked by violence? Telling their viewers to go to Twitter if they wanted to read the news. . . . That editorial instinct, one shared by virtually every media outlet, reflects a toxic level of self-veneration and an ugly disdain for the public this institution supposedly serves.”

OH NOES: The Hunger Games, The Giver and Divergent all depict rebellions against the state, and promote a tacit right-wing libertarianism.”

Over at the Guardian, Ewan Morrison is pissed off that young-adult novels don’t preach a left-wing, progressive vision. In fact, he writes, many of the most popular titles actually undermine the collectivism at the heart of so many utopias-gone-bad. . . .

Jeebus, the sourness runs strong in this one. Morrison is in such a rush to denounce the neoliberalism of the books that he manages to misrepresent them. Far from being anti-community, these books are anti-collectivist, at least when the group is based on involuntary servitude, perceived mental and physical capacities (mostly the result of genetics in these books), or accidents of geography. To the extent that they—like virtually all novels—rely on individual protagonists, those heroes are all about political and social equality rather than any sort of elevation of the great man or woman at the expense of others. None of the books he cites is against community per se. They are against reactionary states that rule by dictate rather than democracy (whether in a the voting booth or the marketplace).

So, yeah, they’re poison for “progressivism.”

Plus, from the comments: “What, they forgot the Harry Potter series? The Ministry of Magic is the epitome of socialistic incompetence and there is very little standing in the way when Voldemort shows up to take over. Hogwarts is practically a bastion of libertarianism – until the Death Eaters kill Dumbledore and take over the school.”

And, amusingly, from the original Guardian piece comments: “The truth is that the masses are increasingly right wing with an antagonism to politics and to the state. They need to be confronted.” Confront away, big boy.

See Harry Potter And The Half-Crazed Bureaucracy for more along these lines. There’s also discussion from Bill Whittle, Stephen Green, and Scott Ott in the latest Trifecta.

IN THE MAIL: The Lenovo Way: Managing a Diverse Global Company for Optimal Performance.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Up to 50% Off Select Logitech PC Gaming Products.

And, also today only: The Hunger Games Book 1, $1.99 on Kindle.

JOEL KOTKIN: Watch What You Say: The New Liberal Power Elite Won’t Tolerate Dissent.

In ways not seen since at least the McCarthy era, Americans are finding themselves increasingly constrained by a rising class—what I call the progressive Clerisy—that accepts no dissent from its basic tenets. Like the First Estate in pre-revolutionary France, the Clerisy increasingly exercises its power to constrain dissenting views, whether on politics, social attitudes or science.

An alliance of upper level bureaucrats and cultural elites, the Clerisy, for for all their concerns about inequality, have thrived, unlike most Americans, in recent years. They also enjoy strong relations with the power structure in Washington, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Wall Street.

As the modern clerisy has seen its own power grow, even while the middle class shrinks, it has used its influence to enforce a prescribed set of acceptable ideas. On everything from gender and sexual preference to climate change, those who dissent from the official pieties risk punishment.

Punch back twice as hard. And mock them mercilessly, as they are eminently mockable. Plus:

The Clerisy has thrived during these hard times. Since 1990, the number of government workers has expanded by some five million to some twenty million. That’s four times the number who were employed by the government at the end of the Second World War, a growth rate roughly twice that of the population as a whole.

The upper bureaucracy have been among the greatest beneficiaries—along with Wall Street and the green crony capitalists —of the Obama Administration’s economic policy. The number of workers, particularly at the federal level, continued to rise even at the height of the great recession. Between late 2007 and mid-2009, the number of U.S. federal workers earning at least $150,000 more than doubled. The ranks of federal nomenklatura—combined with a host of related private contractors —- have swelled so much that Washington DC by 2012 replaced New York as the wealthiest region in the country .

The upper bureaucracy has evolved into a privileged and cossetted caste. In California, state workers are allowed such special privileges as having their Department of Motor Vehicle records kept confidential; a sensible precaution for those, like police, who deal with criminals but now expanded to cover a vast array of public servants, including social workers.

America is sounding more and more like The Hunger Games. But is America ripe for a populist resurgence?

BLAME HOLLYWOOD: “Do you know what the ‘Hunger Games’ movies are about?… It’s teenagers killing other teenagers.”

Plus: “Rodger was the rich kid who reasoned that since he already had the money, he should already be the man to whom women yield. They didn’t, and in his impoverished mind, he couldn’t get any farther than that. He had to walk out of the rom-com showing on screen 1 in the multiplex and into the slasher film on screen 2.”

LIVING IN THE HUNGER GAMES: Florida Democrat Alex Sink: Without Immigration Reform, Where Will We Get Our Landscapers and Maids?

HUNGER GAMES UPDATE: Gallup: Only “State” With A Positive Economic Confidence Score Was Washington, D.C.

HUNGER GAMES 2013: D.C. far outpaces nation in personal earnings.

The District’s total personal income in 2012 was $47.28 billion, or $74,733 for each of its 632,323 residents, according to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer’s Economic and Revenue Trends report for November.

The U.S. average per capita personal income was $43,725. The highest of the 50 states, Connecticut, fell 25 percent short of D.C.

Personal income is a combination of work and non-work related components — wages and salaries, employee health and other benefits, proprietor’s income, property income and transfer payments (such as Social Security).

Yes, life’s always fat in Capital City.

“REMEMBER WHO THE REAL ENEMY IS:” There’s a popular feeling in the air that America has become decadent. Contrasting Harry Potter to the Hunger Games shows what a difference a decade can make.

Of course, you must read my colleague Ben Barton’s piece on the libertarian roots of Harry Potter. “Rowling’s scathing portrait of government is surprisingly strident and effective. . . . Her critique is also particularly effective because, despite how awful Rowling’s Ministry of Magic looks and acts, it bears such a tremendous resemblance to current Anglo-American government. Rowling’s negative picture of government is thus both subtle and extraordinarily piercing. Taken in the context of the Harry Potter novels and the personalities of the bureaucrats involved, each of the above acts of government misconduct seems perfectly natural and familiar to the reader. The critique works because the reader identifies her own government with Rowling’s Ministry of Magic. . . . Rowling may do more for libertarianism than anyone since John Stuart Mill.”

DECODING THE Hunger Games names.

JOEL KOTKIN ON Bipartisan Distrust Of The Beltway.

Much has been written and spoken about the deep divide between “red” and “blue” America, but the real chasm increasingly is between Washington and the rest of the country. This disconnect may increase as both conservatives and liberals outside the Beltway look with growing disdain upon their “leaders” inside the imperial capital. Indeed, according to Gallup, trust among Americans toward the federal government has sunk to historic lows, regarding both foreign and domestic policy. . . .

This chasm between the ruled and the rulers has both widened and deepened during the Obama years. Initially, Democrats supported the idea of a strong federal expansion to improve the economy. Yet, as it turned out, the stimulus and other administration steps did little to help the middle and working classes. The Obama economic policy has turned out to be at least as much – if not more – “trickle down” than that of his Republican predecessor.

Similarly embarrassing, the administration’s embrace of surveillance, as demonstrated by the National Security Agency revelations, has been no less, and maybe greater, than that of former vice president Dick Cheney and his crew of anti-civil libertarians. And it’s been the Left, notably, the British Guardian newspaper, that has led the fight against the mass abuse of privacy. Americans as a whole are more sympathetic to leaker Edward Snowden and increasingly concerned about government intrusions on their privacy. A July Washington Post-ABC News poll found fully 70 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Republicans said the NSA’s phone and Internet surveillance programs intrude on some Americans’ privacy rights. Nearly six in 10 political independents who saw intrusions said they are unjustified.

The Right intrinsically opposes expansion of the civilian part of the federal government, but it supported the national security state both during the Cold War and after 9/11. This has now begun to change. The revelations about IRS targeting of Tea Party and other grass-roots groups likely have not reduced their fears of Big Brother. Yet, by better than 2-1, Democrats, according to a Quinnipiac survey, also supported appointing a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of this scandal. . . .

Besides shared concerns over Syria, the NSA and IRS, grass-roots conservatives and liberals increasingly reject the conventional wisdom of their Washington betters. What increasingly matters here is not political “spin,” but the breadth of anti-Washington sentiment. After all, while most of the country continues to suffer low economic growth, the Washington area has benefitted from the expansion of federal power. The entire industry of consultants, think tanks, lawyers and related fields, no matter their supposed ideologies, has waxed while the rest of America has waned.

This has been a golden era for the nation’s capital, perhaps the one place that never really felt the recession. Of the nation’s 10 richest counties, seven are in the Washington area.

It’s like our own little version of The Hunger Games.


ROSS DOUTHAT: The Great Disconnect:

This January, as President Obama began his second term, the Pew Research Center asked Americans to list their policy priorities for 2013. Huge majorities cited jobs and the economy; sizable majorities cited health care costs and entitlement reform; more modest majorities cited fighting poverty and reforming the tax code. Down at the bottom of the list, with less than 40 percent support in each case, were gun control, immigration and climate change.

Yet six months later, the public’s non-priorities look like the entirety of the White House’s second-term agenda. The president’s failed push for background checks has given way to an ongoing push for immigration reform, and the administration is reportedly planning a sweeping regulatory push on carbon emissions this summer. Meanwhile, nobody expects much action on the issues that Americans actually wanted Washington to focus on: tax and entitlement reform have been back-burnered, and the plight of the unemployed seems to have dropped off the D.C. radar screen entirely.

Hey, Washington’s economy is doing just fine. Plus: “Gun control, immigration reform and climate change aren’t just random targets of opportunity. They’re pillars of Acela Corridor ideology, core elements of Bloombergism, places where Obama-era liberalism overlaps with the views of Davos-goers and the Wall Street 1 percent. If you move in those circles, the political circumstances don’t necessarily matter: these ideas always look like uncontroversial common sense. Step outside those circles, though, and the timing of their elevation looks at best peculiar, at worst perverse.”

ALYSSIA FINLEY: In California, A Farmers’ Rebellion Lifts The GOP. This would seem a good time for anti-fatcat populism:

Mr. Vidak’s campaign theme was the bifurcation of California: the coastal liberal elites versus the Valley folks. “We’re getting left behind here,” he says. “They don’t view us as important.”

Case in point: The unemployment rate in Mr. Vidak’s district is about 15%—two to three times as high as in the Bay Area—and exceeds 30% in some communities. The culprit? “Our water has been cut off by the far left,” he says.

Call it the Hunger Games strategy. It just might work.

SALENA ZITO: When Will America Burst D.C.’s Bubble? “America’s capital seems bubble-wrapped in its own vibrant economic boom, while great chunks of the nation struggle with uncertainty about how to keep the engine going. In fact, six of the 10 wealthiest American counties are Washington suburbs. Washington once was the manifest of power. Now you can add ‘center of wealth’ to its portfolio, crystallizing the elite institutional disconnect between it and the rest of the country.”

It’s like The Hunger Games or something.

REMINDER: Gallup: Few in U.S. See Guns, Immigration as Nation’s Top Problems; The economy and jobs continue to be named as most important U.S. problems. “Few Americans mention guns or immigration as the most important problems facing the nation today, despite the current attention lawmakers in Washington are giving to these issues. The economy still dominates as the top concern, followed by jobs and dissatisfaction with the general way in which Congress and the government work.”

(Bumped). And as I’ve noted before, guns and immigration are priorities mostly to the politico/journalistic class, the members of which already have jobs, and, in fact, are generally prospering while the rest of the country suffers.

WE’RE SEEING THIS COMPARISON A LOT: Politics has become the ‘Hunger Games,’ says former governor.

OBAMA’S AMERICA: Our Future Will be Hunger Games USA.

SORRY, CHICAGO! SORRY, L.A.! The federal government’s relentless expansion has made Washington, D.C., America’s real Second City. “The Washington, D.C., region has long been considered recession-proof, thanks to the remorseless expansion of the federal government in good times and bad. Yet it’s only now—as D.C. positively booms while most of the country remains in economic doldrums—that the scale of Washington’s prosperity is becoming clear. Over the past decade, the D.C. area has made stunning economic and demographic progress. Meanwhile, America’s current and former Second Cities, population-wise—Los Angeles and Chicago—are battered and fading in significance. . . . Washington’s fortunes and America’s are increasingly at odds. The region is prospering because it’s becoming something that would have horrified the Founders: an imperial capital on the Potomac.”

The Capital City prospers, while the provinces starve.

IN HIS CASE, ACTUALLY, I THINK IT’S ASPIRATIONAL: Obama to Switch to ‘Taxation Without Representation’ Plates. “Though critics called the effort futile and symbolic, a campaign by the D.C. Council and local activists to get President Barack Obama to adopt the city’s standard license plates with the ‘Taxation Without Representation’ motto has succeeded. On the heels of a petition, a council resolution and a White House meeting Friday, all presidential vehicles will be fitted with the new plates this coming weekend, just in time for the start of Obama’s second term in office.”

Given that Washington is flourishing while the rest of America suffers, this isn’t likely to have much impact.

WELCOME TO THE HUNGER GAMES: Washington’s Economic Boom: Financed By You. “There’s something unsavory about having a capital city doing outrageously well while the rest of the country is limping along — especially when its economy is premised in part on capturing wealth rather than creating it.”

Nice to see that the New York Times is noticing.

REUTERS: Redistributing Up: The federal government has emerged as one of the most potent factors driving income inequality in the United States – especially in the nation’s capital.

In the town that launched the War on Poverty 48 years ago, the poor are getting poorer despite the government’s help. And the rich are getting richer because of it.

The top 5 percent of households in Washington, D.C., made more than $500,000 on average last year, while the bottom 20 percent earned less than $9,500 – a ratio of 54 to 1.

That gap is up from 39 to 1 two decades ago. It’s wider than in any of the 50 states and all but two major cities. This at a time when income inequality in the United States as a whole has risen to levels last seen in the years before the Great Depression.

Key quote: “We’re seeing an enormous transfer of wealth from taxpayers to the Washington economy.” Well, yes.

CALL IT THE “HUNGER GAMES” BUBBLE: What The Hell Is Happening In The DC Housing Market? “People seem to be buying $650,000 houses on the assumption that they will someday turn into $1,000,000 houses—that central Washington will turn into Manhattan.”

It’s all explained here.


For instance, in terms of total compensation (salary plus benefits), federal workers earn 16 percent more on average than private-sector workers with the same experience, education, and responsibilities. They are paid out of your current and future taxes, not corporate profits. In what some have seen as an echo of the setting for The Hunger Games, the growing power of the federal government to dispense favors and direct whole industries has transformed the Washington, D.C., metro area into the nation’s wealthiest, boasting 10 of the top 20 counties for median household income.

Then there is generational inequality, which is also goosed by government policy. The Pew Research Center finds that in 1984, households headed by someone 65 years or older possessed on average10 times the wealth of a household led by someone under 35. By 2010 that gap had widened to 22 times. Part of that disparity is the result of payroll taxes that take about 12.4 percent (half from the worker, half from the employer) of every dollar of earned income up to $110,000 to pay for Social Security (for the past two years, the worker’s share of Social Security taxes has been reduced by 2 percentage points, a break that will expire at year’s end). Another 2.9 percent of all wages ‑ again split between employee and employer ‑ goes to Medicare.

Payroll taxes take a relatively bigger bite out of the paychecks of younger and poorer Americans even as old-age benefits are disbursed generally without regard to need. To add insult to the situation, Social Security will be paying out fewer dollars than new and future retirees will have put into the system. So at the very time when younger Americans have lost ground to their elders, they are compelled to pay into a fund that will shortchange them when they become eligible for it.


LIVING IN THE HUNGER GAMES: Getting Fat Off The Taxpayer: Since 2000, D.C. Area Wealth Grew at Twice National Average.

FROM NICK GILLESPIE, more on the Washington, D.C./Hunger Games analogy.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT YESTERDAY: My USA Today column: Are We Living In The Hunger Games?

UPDATE: Reader Stewart Hall writes:

Professor Reynolds:

I very much enjoyed your piece in USA Today about the unreality of the Washington economy and its disconnect from the rest of the Country. Having worked and lived in this town for 20 years (most as a GOP lobbyist), your points about Tysons Corner and the DC suburbs are spot on. A well known GOP pollster told me back in August that only two states he polled where people believing things were better in the country since 2008 were Virginia and Ohio. The Virginia perception was almost entirely the result of the massive amount of government spending and employees that spill across the Potomac bridges each day into areas as far away as Prince William and Faquier Counties.

Ironically, I have spent the better part of my time here working to dismantle the federal leviathan that pays the freight for my family to live in Western Fairfax County in one of the highest earning zip codes in the nation. I would gladly make the trade if I could for the sake of my daughters’ futures. I told my wife the morning after the election that if the people wanted big government then let them have it as we are burrowed down in the one locale where I can continue to get paid to fight the legal and regulatory nonsense that is visited upon my clients every week. Perhaps that is a petulant attitude, but most of the folks who voted for Obama have no idea what they just did to themselves. It won’t be the rich guy who takes it in the shorts in the next four years, but the working and non working lower classes as their wages and or benefits are eroded through inflation, Obamacare hourly cut backs, and economic stagnation.

But back to the fantasy land that is NOVA. One point that many people miss about its politics is the enormous influx of hispanic immigrants – legal, naturalized citizens, or illegal in the area. Like any economic creature, they migrate to where the money is. As our hotels in Tysons flourish, our eateries are full and profitable, and construction continues unabated. Jobs are here. Whether for nannies for suburban mommies, hotel workers, or construction laborers, there is still a shortage of labor here. Unlike prior immigrant groups, hispanic immigrants here live in the suburbs, not the City. They heavily populate areas like Sterling in Loudon County, Centerville in Prince William, Bailey’s Crossroads and Reston in Fairfax, etc. All are locales in the middle of affluent suburbs. On election day they voted en masse for Obama. But it wasn’t out of ignorance or misguided loyalty over amnesty. They, like the federal workers and so many others who work for federal contractors in the area know where their bread is buttered – big government. They voted their interest. Period.

Virginia is now truly two states. I spent a week in Abingdon/Lebanon VA for a softball tournament this Summer, and to see the depression in the area because of the collapse of the manufacturing and resource economy (coal) is stupefying. SW Virginia has never been known for class harmony or a great dispersion of wealth, but now everyone is equally poor and I should add, equally angry. The gulf between NOVA and Southside couldn’t be greater and is worsening by the day. Arrogantly, the folks in this area dismiss these people as backward hicks or just casualties of a cultural and environmental war. The NOVA residents have no concept of the pain these communities are feeling, the suicides, decay, and hopelessness that the federal government they support and run is bringing upon decent people who want so much to believe in their country and their fellow citizens. In short, the State itself is a microcosm of the nation right now – a center-right federalist population overwhelmed by a small number of blue dots surrounded by a sea of red – in this case one large blue dot on its northern border.

Yes, drive around and you can see this. Maybe we should move to put northern Virginia back into DC, as it originally was. . . .

UPDATE: Reader William Vine emails:

Was not DC created to keep government employees and their sycophants from voting for federal representation including presidential electors and congress? Apparently, someone mistakenly gave them the vote for presidential electors in 1961by constitutional amendment. Now that government employees have infiltrated VA, NOVA should be incorporated into DC and the 23rd amendment repealed… I can dream.

It makes sense, under a “living constitution” sort of approach! But not everyone likes my analysis, as I got this:

Dear Mr. Reynolds,

I really think you should reconsider your article about how Washington, DC was not affected by the recession and is doing so much better than the rest of the country. I honestly found it a bit offensive. I am not sure if you have ever been to the DC area, but I live here and there is a lot of poverty. The capital area might be doing great and the 2 wards where congresspeople live might be doing well, but the rest of the city is affected by poverty. Wards 7 and 8 have an average income of less than 30,000 and there are boarded up stores all over the city, just not in the 2 mile radius that tourists and outsiders see. Our city is 65 square miles and generalizations should not be made based on one small area. Most of the lawmakers you speak of are not DC residents and only live here part of the year. Saying that DC is not affected by the recession ignores the fact that the rest of the city is affected by poverty and doesn’t live the “high life” of the lawmakers. MOst of the people that live here are just regular people not involved in politics. Maybe your next article could be about how DC has the largest income margin in the nation? About how the congresspeople and lobbyists make over 100,000 a year, and the rest of city is living in poverty?

Thank you,

Samantha L. Scown

Legal Intern
Office of Councilmember Marion Barry, Ward 8
Council of the District of Columbia

Well, Washington — with its growing gaps between rich and poor and a frankly inept and corrupt municipal government that maintains its power in part by naked racial appeals — is certainly no stranger to me; I find pretty much all of DC’s toxic local political brew offensive. I lived there for a number of years. It’s true that the “Capital City” prosperity is not evenly shared; in fact, most of it’s in the areas surrounding DC, where, ironically, people prefer to live because taxes are lower.

MORE: Ed Morrissey comments. “Well, I didn’t like the movie anyway, so perhaps I’m not one to comment on this. However, I would note that this phenomenon seems to be growing in a time characterized by both ‘compassionate conservatism’ and outright redistributionism. Regardless of the similarities and differences between the two, it shows the dangers of centralized control as opposed to distributed power through federalism. We might tend to see the same thing in state capitals in the latter system, but at least voters are better situation to prevent and reverse it.”



In Intellectuals, Paul Johnson’s evisceration of Marx’s empirical work and discussion of Marx’s theories changed my thinking.

Arguments that have little factual or a priori support can have lasting and significant influence.

The key to attracting adherents is presenting the idea in poetical terms that inflame flaws in human nature. Marx had the ability to select clichés that resonated with envy and the wish to believe in miraculous solutions to the problem of scarcity and self-fulfillment. He assured believers his ideas were “scientific” and moral.

Republicans better consider this reality when confronting Obama’s “rich are not paying their fair share” argument.

Countering with “taxing the rich more will not appreciably reduce the deficit” or “this will hurt small business” or giving statistics showing the rich pay quite a bit already will be inadequate. Logic and facts are inadequate. Envy and scapegoating of the successful Americans will only grow as Obama’s policies devastate the poor. Republicans must counter with a similarly emotional argument (e.g. “Obama policies are enriching the Washington elite.”). The Republicans must also call Obama out for inflaming “envy and hatred” so the public cannot be comforted that taxing the rich is altruistic. Yelling “class warfare” is too sanitized to elicit a competing public emotion.

Republicans must also fight Obama’s idea of “a balanced approach.” Republicans must confront the argument that government spending helps the poor and therefore cuts must be offset by increased taxes. Point to all the programs that merely enrich the elite (e.g., NPR and windmills). Show how, under Obama, the Washington suburbs have grown wealthy while other places in the country have grown poor.

Yes, the Hunger Games argument seems quite well-founded.

IN THE LAND OF HOPEY-CHANGEY: Empire of the In-Between. “As anyone who rides Amtrak between New York and Washington knows, the trip can be a dissonant experience. Inside the train, it’s all tidy and digital, everybody absorbed in laptops and iPhones, while outside the windows an entirely different world glides by. Traveling south is like moving through a curated exhibit of urban and industrial decay. There’s Newark and Trenton and the heroic wreckage in parts of Philadelphia, block after block of hulking edifices covered in graffiti, the boarded-up ghost neighborhoods of Baltimore made familiar by ‘The Wire’ — all on the line that connects America’s financial center and its booming capital city.” Kinda like the Hunger Games. Plus: “In the case of those areas surrounding the capital, wealth has gravitated to the exact spot where government regulation is created. Why? Because many businesses discovered that renegotiating the terms between government and the private sector can be extraordinarily lucrative. A few remarkable books by professors at N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business argue that a primary source of profit for Wall Street over the past 15 to 20 years could be what I call the Acela Strategy: making money by exploiting regulation rather than by creating more effective ways to finance the rest of the economy.”

UPDATE: A critique from Andrew Hofer:

First of all, it is ridiculous to make judgements about policy and country by looking out the window of a passing train. I lived in Japan for a while in 1983-1984 and the train views were awful. Next to the tracks is not prime real estate anywhere.

Furthermore, as someone who started his career as a lender in the mid-Atlantic, I suggest another reason for the burnout of the Amtrak Corridor – environmental overzealousness. This was prime manufacturing territory in the past, but the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (and the EPA) have made it ridiculously difficult to buy, improve and operate manufacturing facilities there. I had a client in NJ years ago who figured out how to HALVE their VOC emissions through dynamic temperature control in their stack. This required putting *trace* amounts of inert gas (N2O) up the stack for measurement purposes. They showed it off to NJDEP and what happened? They were fined heavily for the N2O installation and told to install a much more expensive stack that left more VOCs in their emissions than their current system. They aren’t there anymore, of course. Also, the amount of property liability anybody takes in NJ to buy an old manufacturing plant in NJ (and elsewhere in the country) is prohibitive. So they sit abandoned. Environmental is only one form of regulation that effectively taxes small business around here. Everyone likes to blame labor costs, but that is only a small part of the reason nobody makes stuff in the Mid-Atlantic anymore.

Then there is urban policy. After all, even non-manufacturing inner city areas experience this kind of blight. Trenton is, of course, the worst. The city was left to the government and organized crime for decades.

To the extent there is a difference. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Prof. Stephen Clark writes:

You’ve noted the fact that Romney drew fewer votes than McCain and now have noted that TV ratings were down from ’08. Just as people have given up the search for a paying job, I wonder how many have simply given up on the system. Read this piece by Brendan O’Neill and the piece by Kotkin to which he refers. Many people may simply no longer wish to take part in a game which they feel is rigged against them, and I’m inclined to that point of view myself frankly. Of course that brings to mind the Heinlein quote, “Of course the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you–if you don’t play, you can’t win.”

However, the system we currently have is deeply immoral. In the vain pursuit of creating a heaven-on-earth today, all parties, and the electorate generally, collaborate in the enslavement – and the word is appropriate – of generations too young to vote and those not yet born. The trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities that we have created will fall on precisely these generations without their consent. They have been disenfranchised and are being fitted with chains that will bind as surely as those applied to generations stolen from Africa centuries ago. This mocks the sacrifice made in blood and treasure of current and past generations who thought they were striving for something far different. When I wrote last evening suggesting that Obama and Reid’s bluff be called in the standoff over the looming fiscal cliff, it was with this in mind.

Given the general goodness of the man that his biography portrays, I thought that Romney could have been the man to make precisely this case. It is a case that resonates with history of his party and it is a stark and fitting indictment of our society.

True enough, but that doesn’t let us off the hook in terms of trying to make it better.

IS D.C. FACING A HOUSING BUBBLE, OR A LOBBYING BUBBLE? “DC’s housing market is very strange. While the rest of the country falls, we’re in a veritable boom. Where others zig, we zag. What the heck is going on?”

I favor the Hunger Games explanation.

IT REALLY IS LIKE THE HUNGER GAMES IN OUR CAPITAL CITY: Capitol Assets: Congress’s wealthiest mostly shielded from effects of deep recession. “Most members weathered the financial crisis better than the average American, who saw median household net worth drop 39 percent from 2007 to 2010. The median estimated wealth of members of the current Congress rose 5 percent during the same period, according to their reported assets and liabilities. The wealthiest one-third of Congress gained 14 percent.”

IT REALLY IS LIKE THE HUNGER GAMES: “The average wage in the D.C. metro region has skyrocketed relative to the average of metro regions.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. VS. AMERICA: It’s like The Hunger Games, says Ross Douthat.

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Which President Would Win in a Hunger Games-Style Brawl?

POLIWOOD KICKS OFF A NEW SEASON: Does The Hunger Games Advance a Conservative Agenda?


Is the bold future of our youth being killed by gloomy science fiction? Or has Sci Fi grown more dour as a reflection of our mood? Glenn Reynolds interviews authors Neal Stephenson and Vernor Vinge in a thought-provoking inquiry: Why We Need Big, Bold Science Fiction: “While books about space exploration and robots once inspired young people to become scientists and engineers—and inspired grownup engineers and scientists to do big things—in recent decades the field has become dominated by escapist fantasies and depressing dystopias.”(Hey… I’m TRYING, dammit!)Almost as if deliberately proving the point, TED speaker Paul Gilster rails against techno-optimism in a desperately wrongheaded essay that really should be read in order to understand the problem with today’s well-meaning left. Paul does us all a disservice by conflating a multidimensional landscape with a digital, either-or choice – confusing “optimism” with complacency.

Indeed. Here’s the column he’s referencing.

A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO, I plugged reader Lloyd Tackett’s post-EMP disaster novel, A Distant Eden, and although I haven’t gotten around to reading it in my largely nonexistent spare time lately, it produced this praise from reader Doug Strunk:

Glenn, since I ditched my cable TV last week I’ve been reading lots. I started Hunger Games night before last … then I saw your link to Tackett’s new e-book. I read the preview from their site and bought it immediately. As soon as I got home from work, I began in earnest. Wife finally made me put it down around 2am. Overslept and had to work late to catch up… but tonight I’m probably going to finish it in a few hours. Very fast read.

The book’s prologue gives all the valid warning you need. It’s not the typical story telling arc of character development. When the Apocalypse happens, there’s no time for a learning curve. I hope to never find out, but in that world if you’re not in survival mode you’re dead quick. The author makes that point early and often throughout the book. I’ll be giving the book very high review stars on Amazon.

Tell Tackett he better be writing the next one already…

You heard him, Lloyd.

MICKEY KAUS:Hunger Games is a compelling allegorical plea for social equality, against unchecked illegal immigration and union bureaucracy. Seneca Crane is a maybe-too-obvious stand-in for the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).” Heh.

ILYA SOMIN ON the politics of The Hunger Games. “The series is subject to such widely disparate interpretations in part because Collins’ world-building is relatively weak. We don’t learn very much about the political and economic system of Panem, and some of what we do learn is internally inconsistent.”

You want your libertarian kids’ fiction, you gotta go with Harry Potter.