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MATT WELCH: The Media’s Nervous Breakdown Over Race.

There is an asymmetry of approach between anti-liberals—of both left and right—and their increasingly alarmed critics. While the latter camp tends to treat controversies and individuals on a case-by-case basis, the former is forever trying to herd people into binary categories. In the words of bestselling author Ibram X. Kendi, “You’re either racist or antiracist; there’s no such thing as ‘not racist.'”

Demagogues gonna demagogue, race hustlers gonna race hustle.

JOANNE JACOBS: You will be made to feel guilty. “Desperate and frustrated, working parents are organizing to do better for their children than another three months of screens and worksheets. They’re making plans to share homeschooling or to hire teachers or tutors to lead home-based ‘pods’ for small groups of children, writes Matt Welch, a New York City parent in Reason. The media wants parents to feel guilty about it.”


As Glenn has been saying recently, think of the press as a psychological warfare operation aimed at normal Americans and you won’t go far wrong. When does the Times’ young staffers go all-in and form Rob Long’s “New York Times Autonomous Zone?”

WALTER DURANTY DELETES TWITTER ACCOUNT: Well, the Walter Duranty of 2020 – Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her “1619 Project,” but perhaps touched the third-rail of intersectionality today:

(Which is actually one of the more accurate statements she’s made: How Native American Slaveholders Complicate the Trail of Tears Narrative.)

Also today, Hannah-Jones tweeted this (see screencaps below Matt Welch’s response):

And as the Post-Millennial noted prior to the deletion of her Twitter account: ‘1619 Project’ writer claims ‘America isn’t burning’ as America burns:

The New York Times’ “1619 Project” writer Nikole Hannah-Jones said that it would be an honor to have the current destruction and mayhem across the US known as the “1619 riots.”

As detailed by the Times‘ project, the year 1619 is important as it is considered to be the start of slavery in North America. And according to some academics, the current acts of burglary, vandalism, arson, and assault are justified because of historical slavery.

Per the New York Post:

“A Northwestern University journalism professor named Steven Thrasher took to Slate to offer this analysis: “The destruction of a police precinct is not only a tactically reasonable ­response to the crisis of policing, it is a quintessentially American response, and a predictable one. The uprising we’ve seen this week is speaking to the American police state in its own language, up to and including the use of fireworks to mark a battle victory. Property destruction for social change is as American as the Boston Tea Party. . . .”

Hannah-Jones is among them, it appears, as she replied to an opinion piece written by the New York Post by saying that it would be an “honor” to call what is happening “the 1619 riots.”

She followed this up by saying “Also, America isn’t burning.”

Eventually, by this afternoon, Hannah-Jones nuked her Twitter account:

In response to her retweet of the person saying that fireworks “are a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces,” Charles Cooke tweeted, “The last time she spread a conspiracy theory, she won a Pulitzer.”

Or as Neo writes: The greatest Pulitzer since Duranty: the 1619 Project.

UPDATE: Hannah-Jones reactivated her account “about an hour later. Before deleting her account, Hannah-Jones deleted a tweet that distributed a conspiracy theory thread that expressed a belief that the government was setting off fireworks in the middle of the night to sow division in black and brown communities in Brooklyn…This goes without saying, but the New York Times has a difficult situation on its hands figuring out how to address this story, where their social media standards were almost certainly violated by one of their most well known authors.”

More: ‘1619 Project’ writer pushes conspiracy theory that the government uses fireworks to disrupt black communities.

Related: 1619 Project author: ‘It would be an honor’ to call these the 1619 riots.

MATT WELCH: The Woke Primary Is Over and Everyone Lost.

How Democrats react to #DebatesSoWhite might give us a hint of how they’re approaching the Trump problem. Black voters have overwhelmingly preferred Joe Biden; Bernie Sanders has drawn strong Latino support. Those who pin such preferences onto structural racism are wandering directly into the briar patch of false consciousness, which is rarely a good look.

In a season where electability is the primary Democratic virtue, Democratic voters have been sending a consistent message: Identity politics ain’t the ticket. Maybe next time around the Gen X candidates of all hues and genders will run as how they really are, as opposed to how Brooklyn Twitter wants them to be.

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


Colorful and lively, Express was designed to be a fast read for public-transit commuters each morning, especially people who didn’t subscribe to The Post. It featured eye-catching and sometimes cheeky cover illustrations that highlighted a single news story or trend, often one underplayed by The Post or ignored by TV newscasts.

But its circulation has declined in recent years, falling to around 130,000 copies a day this year. The drop reflected, in part, falling Metro ridership, which has been driven by a switch to home telework, riding-sharing services and other means of transportation, Caccavaro said.

In the end, however, Express may have been done in by a technological change within the Metro system itself: WiFi. The wiring of the transportation system has enabled riders to stay on their smartphones throughout their trips, dooming a printed paper like Express and others as many travelers’ companion.

In a farewell column that will be published in Express on Thursday, Caccavaro, the paper’s founding editor, noted this change. “This Monday morning, as I rode the train to work … three people on my crowded Blue Line train were reading Express (thank you!),” he wrote. “One man had his nose in an old-fashioned book. Almost everyone else was staring at a phone.”

And that was a sore-spot apparently. Very apparently — as this is the cover the editors of Express chose to go out on:

Well, yes, I do happen to enjoy my stinkin’ iPhone and iPad. I like portable devices that allow me the choice of reading every news source on the planet, instead of just one, and then, if I wish to do so, share what I’ve read with others, all done wirelessly, along with dozens of other things, both simple and complex. And the beleaguered commuters in DC obviously do, too. (At least until electricity is banned by President Ocasio-Cortez.)

Once again though, a newspaper chooses to insult (and guilt-trip) its readers. As Matt Welch of Reason noted in 2012, pace Churchill, very often history is really written by the losers: “Life looks a hell of a lot different from the perspective of a dinosaur slowly leaking power than it does to a fickle consumer happily gobbling up innovation wherever it shoots up.”

DISPATCHES FROM THE K-12 IMPLOSION: Bill de Blasio Panders To Unions Over Educating Poor Kids. From Matt Welch at Reason TV (Video):

STUCK IN THEIR HIGH SCHOOL GLORY DAYS: Democrats Give John Dean Another ‘Big Thrill.’

Dean’s misconduct hardly began with Watergate. In 1966 he was fired from the Washington law firm of Welch & Morgan for “unethical conduct” that was “grounds for disbarment,” columnist Jack Anderson reported in April 1973. Dean had apparently tried to make a private deal for a TV broadcast license when he was supposed to be negotiating it on behalf of one of the firm’s clients.

During the Reagan Administration, seeking a new thrill, Dean — by now apparently beholden for life to the liberal Democrats who bestowed both 15 minutes of fame and a Get Out Of Jail Free card — declared in Newsweek that “The Iran-Contra inquiries involve matters of national security,” while “Watergate, on the other hand, involved the political security of Richard Nixon. These are Major-league matters versus Little League.”

In 2004, his big thrill was claiming that the crimes of President George W. Bush — chiefly liberating Iraq — were worse than Nixon’s, warranting Bush’s impeachment.

Read the whole thing.


What’s hilarious is, this is entirely because Democrats — wrongly — believe that Facebook cost Hillary the election. If they thought it had won the election for her, they’d be 180 degrees different.




DR. STRANGEGREEN: OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB. As Tom Wolfe wrote in 1989, after writing The Bonfire of the Vanities, all satirists eventually run into Muggeridge’s Law:

While Malcolm Muggeridge was editor of Punch, it was announced that Khrushchev and Bulganin were coming to England. Muggeridge hit upon the idea of a mock itinerary, a lineup of the most ludicrous places the two paunchy, pear-shaped little Soviet leaders could possibly be paraded through during the solemn business of a state visit. Shortly before press time, half the feature had to be scrapped. It coincided exactly with the official itinerary, just released, prompting Muggeridge to observe: We live in an age in which it is no longer possible to be funny. There is nothing you can imagine, no matter how ludicrous, that will not promptly be enacted before your very eyes, probably by someone well known.

Yesterday, I linked to Tim Blair’s remark that if radical environmentalists believe that global warming is truly the equivalent of WWII, “Fair enough. Nuking Hiroshima it is, then.” Today at Power Line, Steve Hayward finds a column by self-described “aspiring writer / tired activist / reluctant student @UniofOxford” Samuel Miller-McDonald who believes, as Hayward writes, “perhaps the only hope for avoiding catastrophic global warming is for a nuclear war to reduce human population and consumption.” Here’s Miller-McDonald:

[A nuclear] exchange that shuts down the global economy but stops short of human extinction may be the only blade realistically likely to cut the carbon knot we’re trapped within. It would decimate existing infrastructures, providing an opportunity to build new energy infrastructure and intervene in the current investments and subsidies keeping fossil fuels alive. . .

Like the 20th century’s world wars, a nuclear exchange could serve as an economic leveler. It could provide justification for nationalizing energy industries with the interest of shuttering fossil fuel plants and transitioning to renewables and, uh, nuclear energy. It could shock us into reimagining a less suicidal civilization, one that dethrones the death-cult zealots who are currently in power. And it may toss particulates into the atmosphere sufficient to block out some of the solar heat helping to drive global warming. Or it may have the opposite effects. Who knows?

What we do know is that humans can survive and recover from war, probably even a nuclear one. Humans cannot recover from runaway climate change. Nuclear war is not an inevitable extinction event; six degrees of warming is. . .

It is a stark reflection of how homicidal our economy is—and our collective adherence to its whims—that nuclear war could be a rational course of action.

Back in 2014, I wrote a piece over at the PJ Mothership on “The Rise of the John Birch Left:”

The John Birch Society was founded in 1958 by businessman Robert Welch, and named after a Christian missionary shot by Communist forces in China in 1945, whom Welch named as the first casualty of the Cold War. The Birchers’ core principles, that Communism is evil, its expansion needed to be stopped, and that communists had infiltrated American government (see also: Hiss, Alger) were laudable. But the group’s zeal to defend them drove them to paranoid levels, to the point where the Birchers were accusing President Eisenhower of being a crypto-commie, leading to Russell Kirk’s hilarious rejoinder to the Birchers, “Ike’s not a communist, he’s a golfer!”

Not to mention all that business about fluoride in the water, which Stanley Kubrick and Terry Southern had loads of fun satirizing in Dr. Strangelove. All of which led William F. Buckley to banish the Birchers from the postwar conservative movement he was building, leaving them a marginalized fringe group. (They’re still around, and still coming up with zany conspiracy theories.)

Who knew that the left would now be using Dr. Strangelove as a guide to jumpstarting a green economy? Mr. President, if we were to immediately launch an all out and coordinated nuclear attack on all their coalmines and oil fields, we’d stand a damn good chance of catching ’em with their pants down!

CAN OUR GOVERNMENT BE COMPETENT? JIMMY CARTER SAYS YES! When Democrats Loved Deregulation, from Matt Welch at Reason TV:

Classical reference in headline, one that’s too funky to simply hyperlink to:

MATT WELCH: Americans don’t trust their government, its institutions, or each other. This is not a good place to be.

We are careening dangerously from a high-trust to a low-trust society. We trust one another less, we trust government and other mediating institutions less. This trend, which like many of our pathologies predates and arguably helped give rise to the Trump presidency, has ominous consequences.

High-trust societies have lower transaction costs, lower crime rates and less corruption. People are nicer and better behaved when they’re reasonably confident that the local grocer won’t steal their credit card information and the IRS won’t audit them based on their politics.

To maintain a high-trust society requires a measure of self-discipline, and even self-sacrifice regarding short-term gains, on the part of its political class. Our political class is no longer capable of those, it seems. The costs of abandoning that are high, but since the political class mostly won’t bear them, it doesn’t care. And never will, unless it is made to.

MATT WELCH: Libertarians Cover the Polling Spread in 4 Senate Races. “It’s running strong candidates in toss-up races in a historically tight election year, yet America’s third party still finds itself routinely left off polls.”

BLUE WAVE? Toss-Up Senate Races Abandoned by Koch Network Feature Unusually Strong Libertarian Party Contenders. “Neck-and-neck races in Indiana and Nevada could determine the balance of the Senate. Both feature Libertarians who have previously cracked 5% yet aren’t being polled.”

Matt Welch:

Nevada’s Tim Hagan, an engineer and longtime Libertarian activist, has on three occasions trounced the point spread in a swing-district state Senate election, earning 5.1 percent of the vote in 2016 (the Democrat won 47.9 percent to 47.0), 4.8 percent in 2008 (46.5–45.8), and 7.6 percent in 2006 (47.6–44.8). Hagan has never dipped below 3 percent in any of the nine elections he has run in, hitting a high of 23.7 percent in a 2014 race for Clark County assessor (in which no Republican ran).

And yet in this crucial swing-state race between vulnerable Republican incumbent Dean Heller and Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen, who the Real Clear Politics polling average separates by less than a percentage point, Hagan is nowhere to be found in six of the seven publicly available polls that have been conducted since he secured the L.P. nomination in early March. Only a Suffolk University survey of 500 likely voters last week included Hagan’s name, showing him with 2.4 percent. (Heller edged Rosen in the poll, 41–40, while 8.6 percent were undecided and 5.4 percent went for none of the above.)

To reiterate a point I made a month ago about the New York gubernatorial race, not listing Hagan as an option constitutes journalistic malpractice.

Handicapping elections is a tricky business, even with much better polling than this. So why, as Matt puts it, the journalistic malpractice?

MATT WELCH: Jordan Peterson Is Not the Second Coming. So why has a generation of wayward young men welcomed him as their messiah? I like Matt, but I don’t think this piece gets it. I’m not sure a happily married father of girls can write the piece that needs to be written on this topic (and yes, that rules me out too).

But a (female) friend on Facebook comments: “I find it curious that so many Peterson detractors focus solely on a single sector of his fan base — those aimless young men who have been on the receiving end of the hard leftist hate-and-blame game and found themselves creeping towards the Alt-Right — as though that is supposed to be an argument. I wonder why it is that Peterson’s detractors minimize or never mention at all his many liberal fans, his centrist fans, or his female libertarian fans…? Does that complicate the narrative too much…?”

MATT WELCH: The Two Parties Are Awful on Almost Everything Important.

It’s long since past time to recognize a glaring truth about two-party politics in 2018: In both effective practice and, increasingly, aspirational rhetoric, there are no significant Republican or Democratic voting blocs on Capitol Hill in favor of reducing deficits, restraining government growth, tackling entitlements, protecting privacy, defending free speech, practicing transparency, challenging prohibition, conducting legislative-branch oversight, passing damn budgets, reducing war, or extending the post-World War II America-led system of reducing global tariffs in the name of both prosperity and peace.

These are among the most important issues facing the country, and the two major parties are currently awful on all of them.

This is not a nihilistic, equal-pox-on-both-houses observation. In an era of increasing polarization, it’s ignorant to pretend that the parties (and as importantly, their customers) are the same. On abortion, immigration, guns, and plenty besides, there has been a great divergence, particularly in recent years.

But when we return to trillion-dollar deficits and pivot toward trillion-dollar debt-service bills without causing much more than a ripple of public fuss, it’s worth stepping back and wondering where the fiscal-sanity bloc will land after our current political re-sorting.

I don’t know about Matt, but you’ll find me at the bar.

CABOTAGE! After Delta and United’s entry into politics — and their supporters’ boast that unhappy customers don’t have much in the way of alternatives — it’s time to revisit this idea from Matt Yeglesias! (No, really). How to Revive Airline Competition: Let foreign-owned airlines fly in the United States.

And while it has a funny name—“cabotage”—the basic concept is simple: Let foreign airlines fly domestic routes in the United States.

This is one of those ideas that’s so commonsensical, people tend not to realize it isn’t permitted. But if you’re wondering why it is that, say, Emirates will fly you from Los Angeles to Dubai or from Dubai to New York but not from California to the East Coast, that’s the reason. It’s illegal.

On a practical level, this creates obvious problems. Many international travelers are bound for cities that aren’t large enough to host substantial transcontinental operations. Thus, the invention of codesharing. A traveler bound from Copenhagen to Tulsa would fly on SAS to O’Hare, Newark, or Dulles and then switch to a United flight to Oklahoma with booking done on a single website and baggage transferring smoothly thanks to a partnership between the airlines.

Over the years the industry has evolved a mode of deep collaboration among airlines from different countries. Many major global airlines have joined the Star Alliance, the Oneworld Alliance, or the SkyTeam. The different members of an alliance remain separate companies with separate ownership, separate labor unions, and separate flight operations. But across an alliance, you can generally accrue frequent flier miles, access airplane lounges, transfer elite status, and count on smooth handling of multi-airline bookings.

But while alliances reduce practical problems associated with anti-cabotage rules, they do nothing for competition. In fact, by encouraging collaboration on major international routes, they reduce it.

To bolster competition, you need to let foreign airlines actually operate domestic routes.


Related: More competition is answer to shoddy airline treatment. “If American consumers wish to enjoy improved service quality in air travel, they should demand that Congress repeal 90 years of anti-competitive federal law. Less regulation of air travel, not more, is the solution.”

JOHN PODHORETZ ON THE INVASION OF THE CGI, bringing movies back full circle to their primitive beginnings:

Truth to tell, if CGI and all the tools of digital filmmaking had been available as the motion picture became the dominant medium of the first half of the 20th century, realistic cinematic storytelling might never have evolved at all. The ability to thrill and captivate through the creation of alternate worlds and alternate realities is so seductive, both for audiences and moviemakers, that it would have been hard to resist. Indeed, the very earliest surviving films, by the French director Georges Méliès, are dominated not by story but by visual and cinematic tricks. They were made in the 1890s.

Look. I’m 56. I’ve been going to the movies for 50 years now. And as for me, I don’t need a medium that has returned to its infancy, especially since there’s a chance I might be returned to my own infancy soon enough. I need a plot. (No, not a cemetery plot.)

Read the whole thing. Plots would be nice — but when studios kowtow to an audience that’s offended by everything, I’m not holding my breath for the return of the midcentury middlebrow culture that was rewarded with such quality Technicolor epics as Lust for Life, Lawrence of Arabia, and Dr. Zhivago.

* QED: Sony’s embarrassing apology yesterday to the kerfuffle over — and I can’t believe I’m typing this — Peter Rabbit. Or as Matt Welch writes at Reason,Sony Apologizes for Weaponizing a Food Allergy in Peter Rabbit, Because We Live in Stupid Times.”

FLASHBACK: Matt Welch: The Media’s Hypocrisy About Gary Johnson.

Is Gary Johnson qualified to run for president? Let’s talk about that, but first let’s talk about this:
Two weeks ago, the foreign affairs select committee of the British House of Commons released a detailed, damning report about one of Hillary Clinton’s signature achievements as secretary of state: The 2011 US/UK/French-led military intervention into Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya, which was sold as a necessity to prevent (in President Barack Obama’s words) “a massacre that would have reverberated across the region.”

“This policy,” the conservative-led committee concluded, “was not informed by accurate intelligence. In particular, the [British] Government failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element. By the summer of 2011, the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change. That policy was not underpinned by a strategy to support and shape post-(Gadhafi) Libya. The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of (Gadhafi) regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.”

You might think that a deeply sourced report from an allied government about trumped-up intelligence leading to yet another destabilizing Middle East war might make some headlines in the country where the administration’s leading proponent of said intervention is poised to become the next leader of the free world. . . .

Ah, yes, but did you hear the one about Gary Johnson not being able to come up on the spot with the name of his favorite foreign leader? Disqualifying! And also, oddly, nearly ubiquitous in the same media that couldn’t be bothered to reexamine a Hillary Clinton policy that has adversely affected countless human lives.

But she’s the Smartest Woman Ever.

Related: Africans are being sold at Libyan slave markets. Thanks, Hillary Clinton.


After President Trump recently tweeted another sophomoric insult at CNN anchor Don Lemon, for example, the network opted for not a bemused stoicism but a condescending whine: “In a world where bullies torment kids on social media to devastating effect on a regular basis with insults and name-calling, it is sad to see our president engaging in the very same behavior himself. Leaders should lead by example.” Boo-frickity-hoo.

As the above illustrates, the two opposing views on media are self-reinforcing and increasingly dominate American politics. Anti-media fervor is arguably the strongest glue left holding together the Republican coalition, as evidenced by our troll president; his troll-Svengali, Breitbart editor Stephen K. Bannon; and the uber-troll, twice-defrocked Alabama jurist Roy Moore.

The legacy media and its left-of-center customer base, meanwhile, cannot resist taking the bait, leading to too much anti-Trump error and an off-putting haughtiness when caught out. Reliable Sources this weekend used the occasion of a bad CNN mistake — the network had reported that Trump and his son received a WikiLeaks web address and encryption key before they were made public, when in fact they got them after — to have several guests bemoan Trump’s attacks on the media, rather than, I don’t know, delve into exactly how CNN messed up.

The struggle against Trump’s norms-shattering presidency is real. So is the decreasing marginal utility of crying wolf at every opportunity. How to thread that needle? Another CNN anchor, Jake Tapper, pointed the way at the L.A. Press Clubs awards this year.

“We don’t need to give the enemies of the Fourth Estate any ammunition,” Tapper warned. “That means we need to be squeaky clean. We’re not the resistance. We’re not the opposition. We’re here to tell the truth, report the facts, regardless of whom those facts favor one way or the other.”

That’s nice. How’s the search for Anderson Cooper’s “hacker” coming along?

BLUE FALCON: McCain blows up health care reform again, says he can’t support Graham-Cassidy “in good conscience.”

And as a result: John McCain wins over BIG fans in Cher, Rosie O, Cecile Richards, Jimmy Kimmel & MANY others.

Headline via Kurt Schlichter, who links to a 2016 campaign video promising that McCain “is leading the fight to repeal Obamacare.”

UPDATE: Matt Welch of Reason tweets,” to hold rally praising [McCain], because 2017.”

MATT WELCH: If You Think Campus Free Speech Is No Big Deal, Watch This Shocking Vice News Report From Evergreen State College. And remember that this atmosphere didn’t just “happen.” It happened with the support of the faculty and administration.

I think Evergreen should have its accreditation revoked, and be investigated by the federal Department of Education.

MATT WELCH: The Media’s Hypocrisy On Gary Johnson.

Is Gary Johnson qualified to run for president? Let’s talk about that, but first let’s talk about this:

Two weeks ago, the foreign affairs select committee of the British House of Commons released a detailed, damning report about one of Hillary Clinton’s signature achievements as secretary of state: The 2011 US/UK/French-led military intervention into Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya, which was sold as a necessity to prevent (in President Barack Obama’s words) “a massacre that would have reverberated across the region.”

“This policy,” the conservative-led committee concluded, “was not informed by accurate intelligence. In particular, the [British] Government failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element. By the summer of 2011, the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change. That policy was not underpinned by a strategy to support and shape post-(Gadhafi) Libya. The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of (Gadhafi) regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.”
You might think that a deeply sourced report from an allied government about trumped-up intelligence leading to yet another destabilizing Middle East war might make some headlines in the country where the administration’s leading proponent of said intervention is poised to become the next leader of the free world.

But you would be wrong.

Aside from a handful of mostly ideological outlets, the US news media declined to even note that the Democratic presidential nominee suffered a comprehensive rebuke to her oft-repeated assertion that Libya represented American “smart power at its best.” As The Atlantic delicately put it, “The British public has been engaged in a debate about war that has been largely absent from the U.S. presidential election.”

Ah, yes, but did you hear the one about Gary Johnson not being able to come up on the spot with the name of his favorite foreign leader? Disqualifying! And also, oddly, nearly ubiquitous in the same media that couldn’t be bothered to reexamine a Hillary Clinton policy that has adversely affected countless human lives.

Well, once it became clear that he takes more votes from Hillary than Trump, this was inevitable.

FURTHER CONFIRMATION THAT ESPN IS JUST MSNBC WITH BETTER VIDEO: “Savior and scourge, Fidel Castro was many things to many people. One thing all can agree on: He loved his sports.”

A tyrannical socialist who loves sports — now there’s a first! Oh wait:


It’s hard to believe that 14 years ago, an earlier, saner, less bloodthirsty ESPN was publishing pieces titled “Blood on the Rings,” a profile of the savagery of Uday Hussein, which quoted his former Olympic volleyball coach stating that in Saddam’s Iraq, “Being a well-known athlete can get you killed:”

Dozens of athletes and leaders in the Iraqi sports movement have been executed, in part because they were popular with the public. Many of them were framed under the pretext of political reasons — you need only to criticize the government — but the fact is Uday cannot stand to think that someone in Iraq could be smarter or more famous than him.

Nowadays, ESPN would headline that piece, “Savior and scourge, Saddam Hussein and his rambunctious sons were many things to many people. One thing all can agree on: they certainly loved their sports.”

Related: Matt Welch’s 2008 Reason obit for Severo Nieto, the Cuban baseball historian whose books were banned by Castro because he dared write about Cuba’s rich history in sports prior the “glorious” revolution.

WHERE’S THE WORLD’S SMALLEST VIOLIN WHEN YOU NEED IT? The sky is falling on print newspapers faster than you think:

Nearly everyone in publishing with whom I shared the 2015 paid figures found them surprisingly low. There is no question that they are dramatically lower than the widely available 2013 numbers.


Yet another reminder, that as Reason’s Matt Welch noted in 2012, when it comes to the first draft of history, it’s largely being written by the losers.

WHEN YOU UNDERSTAND THAT THEY’RE BOTH JUST DEMOCRATIC PARTY FRONT GROUPS, THE CONFLICT RESOLVES ITSELF: Matt Welch: Black Lives Matter and Michael Bloomberg’s Gun Control Machine: the oddest couple? “As Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas noted in his blistering concurrence in 2010’s McDonald vs. Chicago, which incorporated the 2nd Amendment as an individual right in all 50 states, explicitly racist gun restrictions and confiscations were a critical tool for pro-slavery whites in the post-Civil War South. . . . We think of stop-and-frisk as a drug or simple harassment measure, but Bloomberg’s legal justification was the need to keep guns off the streets. According to Bloomberg’s logic, cops needed to initiate more than 5 million interactions between 2002 and 2013, 86% of which were with black or Latino residents. . . . There is an always timely lesson in those statistics: Whenever government agents gain more power over citizens, whether to enforce bans on loose cigarettes or raze private property to build a baseball stadium, poor and disadvantaged communities will be on the receiving end first and hardest.”

I had a piece on this recently.


This is recurring speech tic of Rich whenever he’s confronted by someone who might shrink government by even a minuscule amount — in November of 2009, with a mammoth case of Tea Party Derangement Syndrome fueling his paranoia, Rich wrote an article with the hilarious title, “The G.O.P. Stalinists Invade Upstate New York.

As Matt Welch of Reason counseled Rich, “Only Stalinists Use Words Like ‘Stalinist’.” Both instances are made all the more curious considering the glowing terms in which the New York Times, Rich’s longtime former employer praised Stalin’s “accomplishments” upon his well-deserved death in 1953. (See also: Pulitzer Prize-winning Timesman, Duranty, Walter.)

MATT WELCH: Admit it, Dems: Hillary Could Strangle a Puppy on Live TV, and You’d Still Back Her (UPDATED: It’s worse than you think).

A quick recap: Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, violated guidelines from the National Archives and her own State Department by using her own private email server for professional correspondence, and then destroying whatever messages she deemed destructible.

At first Clinton claimed that she needed a single non-governmental email account for “convenience,” because she only had one phone. That claim turned out to be provably false. Next, she claimed that it didn’t matter much, because “The vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.” The latter half of that claim turned out to be provably false, too. She further insisted that none of the emails contained classified information, a claim that many people with intimate knowledge of such things—such as a former senior State Department official—described with phrases like “hard to imagine.” And her assertion in a CNN interview this month that she went “above and beyond” the email disclosure requirements was—wait for it—false.

In sum, the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential frontrunner brazenly violated government transparency policy, made a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act, placed her sensitive communications above the law, and then just lied about it, again and again. Now comes word that, unsurprisingly, two inspectors general are recommending that the Department of Justice open a criminal inquiry into the matter. One of their findings was that the private server, contrary to Clinton’s repeated claims, contained “hundreds of potentially classified emails.”*

So how much do Democrats value basic transparency, accountability, and honesty in their presidential candidates? Not bloody much, if you go by the handy polls over at RealClearPolitics.

Party first, party always.

WELL, YES, THIS IS WHAT PUTIN DOES: Is Putin playing puppetmaster in Greece?

Rumors of Russian money and influence calling the shots in Athens—or at least playing an outsized role—are no secret in NATO security circles. That Putin wants to harm Greece’s already precarious links with the EU and NATO is plain to see, and it seems to be getting close to fruition as the Greek crisis worsens.

“They’re only technically on our side,” explained a retired CIA officer with long experience in Greek matters. U.S. intelligence has never fully trusted the Greeks, with the CIA especially having misgivings stemming from the 1975 murder of Richard Welch, the agency’s station chief in Athens. While Langley blamed Phil Agee, a former CIA officer who went over to the Cubans and Soviets—think of Agee as the Ed Snowden of the mid-1970s—for Welch’s death, it was long obvious that Athens was never very eager to catch Welch’s killers. Neither did the 1988 terrorist assassination of the U.S. naval attaché to Greece, Capt. Bill Nordeen, promote trust.

Ties between U.S. intelligence and the Greek security services suffered for years, and things are getting unpleasant again. “We’re back to square one,” rued the former CIA case officer. “It’s like the bad old days when we didn’t trust the Greeks and they didn’t trust us. Only now Putin’s in the middle of the game.”

Reagan won the Cold War, in part, by playing a long game designed to bankrupt the Soviet Union. It seems Putin now has similar aims, using the profligacy of European socialist countries such as Greece as a long-term weapon. Such profligacy holds the potential to bankrupt the EU if it continues to cave to political pressure to bailout Greece and similar entitlement-driven economies.  And if EU resists the pressure and refuses further bailouts, Russia will undoubtedly swoop in with offers of “assistance” to leaders more interested in keeping entitlements flowing than defending and preserving their countries’ freedom and democracy.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we hand out “free” (tax-supported) stuff and get citizens addicted. This is why the founders’ philosophy of individualism, not socialist communitarianism, works to sustain freedom and democracy.

MATT WELCH: ‘His name was Jefferson Davis Hogg!’ If The Dukes of Hazzard was racist, it sure had a funny way of showing it. It’s all about knee-jerk banning, not about any rational consideration. The point is to wield power. If it’s wielded arbitrarily and capriciously, so much the better, as that makes people feel less secure.

JOURNALISM: Story About First Business to ‘Publicly Vow to Reject Gay Weddings’ Was Fabricated Out of Nothing.

See, the attack on this poor small-town pizza place is what bothers me here. I’m at best lukewarm on RFRAs at both the federal and state level, and I have increasingly been of the opinion that Scalia was right in Smith, but I understand why a lot of religious folks fear that otherwise the state will reach right into their churches and ceremonies. And what’s really troubling here is the sheer meanness of the gay rights community, as shown in the aftermath to Proposition 8, the Brendan Eich affair, and now this. I was in favor of gay marriage long before those Johnny-come-latelies Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I may even have been in favor of gay marriage before Dick Cheney. And nothing from the opponents of gay marriage has shaken my belief. The supporters, on the other hand. . . .

UPDATE: Matt Welch: Burn Her! She Would Act Like a Witch in a Situation That Will Never Come Up! The anti-pizzeria mob loses its mind. “There is no to-be-sure paragraph about what happened yesterday. A virtual mob, acting at least partly on bogus information, gleefully trashed a business that hasn’t (to my knowledge) discriminated against a flea. After which a local pol stood up and yelled ‘Encore!'”

Mobs enjoy mobbing. It’s fun for them. And politicians cash in.


If you want to trace the downward trajectory of the dreams that liberals pinned on the enigmatic figure of Barack Obama, look no further than the presidential histories and political dramas through which they have filtered their understanding of his meteoric rise and drip-by-drip fall in popularity. . . .

The ensuing presidency, and the last six years of American political life, have been so desultory that it’s almost hard to remember how ubiquitous the now-laughable Lincoln comparison once was. Take this Washington Post analysis after the 2008 election: “He was a boy with a distant father, raised in a family of modest means. He had a curious intellect, devouring history and memorizing passages from Shakespeare. He became a lawyer and settled in Illinois, where he was elected to the state legislature. With relatively little political experience, he decided to run for president. Few believed he stood a chance of winning a primary campaign against the party’s heir apparent, a senator from New York. But the gangly, bookish Illinoisan galvanized millions across a country in crisis with his soaring rhetoric, speaking in big strokes about transcending partisan politics and creating America as it ought to be. He rose from obscurity to clinch his party’s nomination and the presidency. Sound familiar?”

Someone needs to do an updated edition of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

MATT WELCH’S BIG SCOOP IS THAT Roy Edroso is still writing. Who knew?

IT’S HOW THE SELF-DETERMINED COOL KIDS PAT EACH OTHER ON THE BACK: Matt Welch: It’s Not Just MSNBC Making Flip Assumptions About Non-Liberal Racism. “There is nothing tolerant about assuming that those who have different ideas than you about the size and scope of government are motivated largely by base ethnic tribalism. MSNBC, on whose shows I have happily participated, engages daily in the othering business, of making conservatism itself (and sometimes libertarianism, and other non-Progressive ideological strains) a disreputable condition, explicable in terms of pathology. That this is done in the name of tolerance and sensitivity to punitive stereotypes is one of the ironies of our age.”

ALMOST DONE WITH THIS WEEK’S BOOK PROMOTION: Was on The Independents, a great new show on Fox Business with blogosphere fave Matt Welch, Fox & Friends, taped Stossel, and I’ll do Lou Dobbs in about an hour. Also spoke at the Manhattan Institute at lunch, which will be on C-SPAN’s Book TV in a few weeks. Plus seemingly endless radio and print interviews. Sadly, none of the above is available online, but here’s a video of me talking with the WSJ’s Mary Kissel.

WELL, JOE BIDEN AND JUAN WILLIAMS HAVE GONE ON TO PROSPER, BUT THEY’RE DEMOCRATS. Matt Welch: Rand Paul’s Plagiarism, and the Weird Man’s Burden. “If your goal is to genuinely compete in a general election with your once-marginalized ideas, instead of building a revolutionary movement at the margins, then you don’t need to be as clean as the competition–you need to be cleaner.”

My thoughts on plagiarism in politics — including a defense of Joe Biden — can be found here, excerpted from the book Peter Morgan and I wrote, The Appearance of Impropriety: How The Ethics Wars Have Undermined American Government, Business and Society. I have to say, nothing has happened since it came out in 1997 to suggest that its thesis is obsolete. . . .

IN LIGHT OF OBAMA’S “BULWORTH MOMENT” TALK, somebody on Twitter — I think it was Matt Welch — was referencing this 1998 essay from Suck. “A powerful man casts off his whiteness, and becomes authentic and direct. Take a moment with that one.”

Given Obama’s actual upbringing, he — and his relationship to black America — may be more Bulworth-like than not.

MATT WELCH: L.A. City Councilmen Would Divest Pension Money From a Potentially Koch-Owned Tribune Co. “It is instructive to watch the superstructure of liberalism wheeze into gear at the mere rumor of a right-wing-bogeyman purchase of a distressed, unloved newspaper company.” Tells you a lot about the current state of newspapers, too.

UPDATE: I wonder if this sort of politicized pension decisionmaking opens them up to a charge of breaching their fiduciary duty to beneficiaries?

MATT WELCH NOT IMPRESSED WITH LEE SIEGEL’S CALL FOR NORTH TO SECEDE. “Because being anti-redneck means never having to explain, let alone begin to understand, basic economics.”

NO. Matt Welch: Are Big City Newspapers Inevitably Liberal Due to Market Forces? “Journalists have turned the daily newspaper into the print version of the local NPR station: intellectual, fuzzily liberal, elitist. Potential readers who have more of a talk radio sensibility have to go elsewhere. Like, well, talk radio (which does just fine in many famously liberal cities).”

MATT WELCH: Sequestration Scare-Story Implosion, in Three Acts.

THE DEATH OF CONTRARIANISM: The great irony is that The New Republic is repudiating contrarian neoliberalism precisely when we need it most,” Matt Welch writes in the new issue of Reason. “Somewhere, some day, a left-of-center critique of the Obamaite consensus will emerge, perhaps even one that revives the neoliberal economic ideas currently out of fashion. It’s hard to know where the epistemic opening will come from, but we can say for certain where it won’t: The New Republic.”

Read the whole thing.™

MATT WELCH: Republicans Are Almost As White and Male as Every New Republic Editor, Ever! Or a Howard Dean meetup, or an MSNBC hosts’ convention. Or an Obama campaign headquarters.

But the real point of stories like this is as a herding mechanism: To make white people who aren’t Republican feel smug, while scaring any wavering minorities back onto the Democratic plantation.


OBAMA AND THE “ACTING ALONE” FALLACY: “The idea that you’re ‘alone’ unless you’re being directed by the government strikes me as dehumanizing and almost abusive.”

Plus: “To suggest that anyone who’d like to see less heavy-handed government regulation thinks one person can do everything alone is a straw-man argument. It indicates a lack of understanding of how the private-sector economy works and how libertarians or conservatives actually think about economics. The private sector isn’t just a bunch of people ‘acting alone.’ As Matt Welch pointed out in his critique of the speech, making and selling an object as basic as a pencil is such a complex endeavor that it takes lots of different specialists. No one person has the knowledge to accomplish that seemingly simple task; that’s how decentralized knowledge is in society. And with a truly complex product, like a computer or movie, the need for people to work together is even greater still. The private sector isn’t fundamentally about everyone being secluded and isolated from each other; it typically involves many people working together. Government regulation often rules out the options people would otherwise want to pursue that would let them work together more.”

MATT WELCH: How the fact-checking press gives the president a pass.

NY POST FIRES FULL BATTERY AT OBAMA: On the fiscal cliff, Kyle Smith on his lack of a second-term agenda, Peggy Noonan on his debates and negotiations, Amir Taheri on how he lost the Middle East, John Bolton on that Nobel Peace Prize, Matt Welch on his lies, Edward Klein on his amateur governance, Michael Tanner on the cost of ObamaCare, John Podhoretz on his radical agenda, Amity Shlaes on his bad economic choices.  Apparently Michelle Obama could not be reached for a post on his bad eating habits, or Bo for one on how he’s an inadequate petter.  But even without those these op-eds make Obama a demolished man.

‘THE TEA PARTY WILL WIN IN THE END:’ Elizabeth, that’s quite a change for Frank Rich, who was calling the Tea Party ‘Stalinists’ back in late October of 2010.

As Matt Welch of Reason wrote at time, “Only Stalinists Use Words Like “Stalinist.'” Of course, that was back when Rich was still with the New York Times, effectively the print division of MSNBC. Unlike the wild and woolly Times, perhaps New York magazine requires him to dial the radical chic rhetoric back a notch or ten.

SO I WRONGLY CREDITED THIS TWEET to Matt Welch the other day, when he was just retweeting Mark Hemingway. Sorry! For the record, it was Hemingway who said: “That wasn’t a debate so much as Mitt Romney just took Obama for a cross country drive strapped to the roof of his car.”

MATT WELCH: “That wasn’t a debate so much as Mitt Romney just took Obama for a cross country drive strapped to the roof of his car.”

UPDATE: Oops, that was a retweet of A tweet by Mark Hemingway. Sorry!

JOHN LEO: Those Mealy-Mouthed Statements From Our Cairo Embassy. “These same attitudes infected the mainstream media as well. The New York Times buried the mob violence and killings at the bottom of Page 4, not mentioning that an ambassador was killed and assuring any readers who got that far that anti-American feelings are confined to ‘pockets’ in the Middle east. On the First Page, however, was a big story that Mitt Romney was not opposed to the Vietnam war as a college student in 1966. Likewise, on Morning Joe the all-lefties panels focused exclusively onMitt Romney’s statement, the point of which I couldn’t quite figure out from the indignant discussion.”

Related: Video from the Cairo attacks.

UPDATE: Matt Welch: What’s So Hard About Saying, “In the United States, we are not in the business of approving these messages”?

Also: James Joyner: “In point of fact, making a movie commenting on the sexual proclivities of someone who died some fourteen hundred years ago in no way constitutes ‘incitement’ under any meaningful use of the term.”

Plus: Ann Althouse: “The media strains ‘to shift the focus from the Obama administration’s failure to protect our embassies and for its apologies (both before and after the attack on the Cairo Embassy) to whether Mitt Romney was wrong to criticize Obama last night.'”

MORE: Prof. Stephen Clark writes: “Matt Welch’s post points to just how deep the rot runs. His point should not need to be made.”

MATT WELCH ON Deficit Denialist Democrats at the DNC. “In this idyllic landscape of Democratic magical thinking, there is no state and local budget crises, no unaffordable and underfunded defined-benefit public pension obligations, nothing at all standing in the way of ‘investing’ in our public safety, except (in ex-Republican Stern’s words) ‘right-wing extremists.’ Vallejo, California is not bankrupt because of public employee pensions, and the rest of the state is not following suit. It’s a hell of a place, this Democrat-land. Wish I could live there. . . . One of the great ironies of this convention already is that speaker after speaker denounces Republicans for being unable to tell the truth or get their facts straight. Meanwhile, one of the most important truths of modern governance—we are well and truly out of money—sits neglected in the corner.”

MATT WELCH ON THE FACT-CHECKERS CIRCLING THE WAGONS FOR OBAMA: Obama, Democrats, and the Media: You Can’t Handle the ‘Truth.’ “It’s a delicate proposition, warning voters that they might be too stupid and/or venal to understand a politician’s brilliance. We don’t know yet how that strategy will pay off in the voting booth, but if the president and his party get the kid-gloves treatment from the media this week after the RNC festival of overheated fact-checking, then the institution of political journalism may creep into still more unchartered territory: taking sides in the very polarization it usually claims to abhor.”

Oh, we’re there already: Absurd: ABC ‘Fact Checks’ Ryan’s Comparing Obama to Carter. Hacks.

Also: Yes, you can have a fabulous career in…Professional Fact-Checking!

MATT WELCH: Half-Assed Media Speculation About the Batman Shooter.

MATT WELCH: Could Obama’s Pot Crackdown Cost Him Colorado?

MATT WELCH: Democratic Swissophobia is hurting patriotic, middle-class Americans. “There is something very wrong about the principle that your after-tax earnings are subject to still more scrutiny by the most powerful government the world has ever known, and something insidious about the sight of politicians blaming Americans’ investment choices for their own shoddy governance.”

Durbin is just asking: Who are these rootless cosmopolitans who wish to send their money away from the Fatherland?

GOT A QUESTION? ASK A LIBERTARIAN IS BACK, with Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie.

MATT WELCH: A Modern Timeline of Liberals Claiming That Opposition to Obama = Racism.

MATT WELCH: Get Serious About Governing, Democrats: No amount of crying over evil Scott Walker will help governments fix their bleeding balance sheets.

At The American Prospect, Harold Meyerson compared Walker’s actions to a “jihad” and suggested (paradoxically) that a post-union labor movement might just resort to rioting. Walker “wins one for the plutocrats,” Joan Walsh lamented at Salon, without really explaining how the monocle-wearers could win 38 percent of the union vote.

Such demonization was of a piece with leftish commentary in the run-up to the recall. Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce described Walker as a “goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage its midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin,” which would now be subject to “the habits of oligarchy.” Even more grossly, The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote in The Washington Post that Walker’s policies were intended to “cleanse the electorate of people who don’t look, earn or think like him.”

It’s almost comforting, in such a florid, menacing universe, to wallow in righteous defeat. But I would suggest that if progressives want to change minds and political outcomes, they might try a different strategy: Instead of merely rallying opposition to irredeemable bogeymen, how about providing a concrete, numbers-rich alternative to the brutal budgetary math Walker’s union-tweaking policies were designed to address?

It is a fact that the majority of state budgets are in the red, that overall state spending increased by 81 percent from 2002-2007, and that rare-in-the-private-sector defined benefit pensions for government workers (along with post-retirement medical benefits) are a large and growing portion of state and local budgets, even while being chronically underfunded. The situation is terrible now, and will be much worse in the near future. So, progressives: Tell us concretely what you plan to do about this.

Echoing Tim Geithner, I think they don’t have a plan of their own. They just don’t like yours.

MATT WELCH: Why Big Government Is Offensive. “The kerfuffles over mandatory ultrasounds and contraceptive mandates made brutally clear an axiom that partisans have a hard time understanding: Any power that government has to do something you like will invariably be used for something you abhor. Today’s decision interpreting the Commerce Clause to justify snatching home-grown medical marijuana from patients in California becomes the justification for tomorrow’s federal mandate to buy health insurance. Reduce the scope of government, and we reduce the culture war, while promoting true tolerance of divergent viewpoints.”


MATT WELCH: Seriously, This Is What’s Passing for Liberal Political Discourse These Days. Well, what else are they going to talk about, really? Love the photo.

Plus, from the comments, the best take on Obama yet: “If only he had the enlightened views of Dick Cheney on gay marriage and Pat Robertson on marijuana.”

And dude, we’re not “outraged,” we’re contemptuous. Do try to keep up.

MATT WELCH: When Losers Write History: Why legacy-newspaper media reporters get their own industry so wrong.

Imagine for a moment that the hurly-burly history of American retail was chronicled not by reporters and academics but by life-long employees of A&P, a largely forgotten supermarket chain that enjoyed a 75 percent market share as recently as the 1950s. How do you suppose an A&P Organization Man might portray the rise of discount super-retailer Wal-Mart, or organic foods-popularizer Whole Foods, let alone such newfangled Internet ventures as Life looks a hell of a lot different from the perspective of a dinosaur slowing leaking power than it does to a fickle consumer happily gobbling up innovation wherever it shoots up.

That is largely where we find ourselves in the journalism conversation of 2012, with a dreary roll call of depressive statistics invariably from the behemoth’s point of view: newspaper job losses, ad-spending cutbacks, shuttered bureaus, plummeting stock prices, major-media bankruptcies. Never has there been more journalism produced or consumed, never has it been easier to find or create or curate news items, and yet this moment is being portrayed by self-interested insiders as a tale of decline and despair.

It is no insult to the hard work and good faith of either newspaper reporters or media-beat writers (and I’ve been both) to acknowledge that their conflict of interest in this story far exceeds that of, say, academic researchers who occasionally take corporate money, or politicians who pocket campaign donations from entities they help regulate, to name two perennial targets of newspaper editorial boards. We should not expect anything like impartial analysis from people whose very livelihoods—and those of their close friends—are directly threatened by their subject matter.

This goes a long way toward explaining a persistent media-criticism dissonance that has been puzzling observers since at least the mid-1990s.

Read the whole thing.

MATT WELCH ON THE CHE GUEVARA CULT: Is There “something admirable” About Murdering People for the “greater good”? Yes, so long as you’re on the left.

Plus, from the comments: “You can’t spell douche without Che.”

MATT WELCH: Tim Noah Self-Parody: Joe Biden Is A “Non-Embarrassment?”

MATT WELCH: Farewell to a Friend: Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012). “The next Breitbart-hater to match his entrepreneurial esprit-de-corps will be the first.”

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg:

One thing that he [Breitbart] and Bill [Buckley] shared was this basic contempt for the premise that the mainstream liberal elite institutions in the United States are in a position to judge and adjudicate the worth of conservatives. That they are in a position to judge our souls. That if we disagree with liberals, that proves that we are somehow wanting or lacking in compassion; lacking in humanity. That is a fundamental thing that enraged Andrew, this idea that if you disagreed about public policy, if you disagreed about how to organize society, that proved you were a racist. That proved you were a fascist. That proved you were a homophobe. It was the fundamental bad faith of the leading liberal institutions that controlled the commanding heights of this culture that infuriated him. And he refused, at the most basic level, to give them that authority over him or his ideas, and that is was fueled his Righteous Indignation, as his book title called it.

Yes, his recognition — and proclamation — that they lack any moral authority was a major reason why they hated him; and, by so hating, acted in ways that proved their lack.

MORE: Matt Labash: The Dinner Party.

NICK GILLESPIE AND MATT WELCH: Learning From Kodak’s Demise: What the end of a blue-chip company can teach us about the 2012 election. “When given real choice, especially the choice to go elsewhere, consumers will drop even the most beloved of brands for options that enhance their experience and increase their autonomy. We have all witnessed and participated in this revolutionary transfer of loyalty away from those who tell us what we should buy or think and toward those who give us tools to think and act for ourselves. No corner of the economy, of cultural life, or even of our personal lives hasn’t felt the gale-force winds of this change. Except government.”

GOODNIGHT, MOONSHOT: At Reason, Matt Welch turns the lights out on a government-aggrandizing metaphor:

As authors William D. Eggers and John O’Leary argued in their 2009 Harvard Business Press book If We Can Put a Man on the Moon…Getting Big Things Done in Government, the lunar metaphor has experienced far too much mission creep. “The moon landings were without a doubt inspirational, but did they teach too much of a good lesson?” Eggers and O’Leary wrote. “Don’t we need some realism as well as optimism? Simply because you really want to reach a destination doesn’t mean you are going to get there. If President Kennedy had challenged us to send a man to Mars within the decade, we’d have lost that challenge. Just because government put a man on the moon doesn’t mean it can do something really hard.”

There are few things political executives love more than making promises to meet lofty goals by deadlines that will arrive long after they have exited the scene. Under laws passed and edicts signed half a decade ago, and regardless of cost or other feasibility issues, California in 2020 must acquire one-third of its energy from renewable sources. “By 2020,” President Obama said in a 2010 speech, “America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” Politicians want to bask in the glow of Kennedyesque vision and determination, without getting hung up on the practical details.

But as Eggers and O’Leary point out, these transparent attempts to glom onto JFK’s glamour skip right over the 35th president’s real-world pragmatism. Consider this passage from Kennedy’s terse “Man on the Moon” speech: “This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, material and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread.…It means we cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel.”

“It is remarkable today,” Eggers and O’Leary comment, “to read the words of an American president, during a major address to Congress, talking about the bureaucratic challenges of a major endeavor. Interagency rivalries? High turnover?” One of the keys to making the moonshot was grounding it in reality by extending the original 1967 deadline to the end of the 1960s and doubling the original estimated budget when it became apparent that initial projections weren’t viable. Promises detached from reality, like missions detached from concrete accomplishments, are recipes for cynicism, waste, and failure.

Read the whole thing.™

RELATED: At PJ Media, Rand Simberg explores “The Lunar Yellow Peril.” Rand writes that both the US and Chinese “government space agencies should fear is [Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace] and SpaceX establishing a lunar base, and rendering them both irrelevant.”


Nick Gillespie recommends this excellent profile by Matt Welch.


Not a day goes by when George W. Bush’s deregulation is not blamed for the financial crisis, and yet he hired 90,000 net new regulators, passed the largest Wall Street reform since the Depression, and increased fiscally significant regulations by more than any president since Richard Nixon. We are told by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and his friends in The Nation that the country is being ruled by a ruthless “austerity class,” yet federal spending has continued to increase even after the summer’s debt-ceiling agreement. The Occupy Wall Street movement and the (mostly Democratic) politicians who support it have shifted the national conversation to the “fact” that the middle class is worse off than it was three decades ago, yet as University of Chicago economist Bruce Meyer and Notre Dame economist James Sullivan found in a recent paper, “median income and consumption both rose by more than 50 percent in real terms between 1980 and 2009.”

We are entitled to facts, yes. Just not theirs.

Hey, it’s not like they could sell their programs with the truth.

MATT WELCH TO BARACK OBAMA: Hey, what about that “net spending cut” you promised back in 2008?

Plus this:

Candidate Obama campaigned every day—and rightly so—against the “fiscal irresponsibility” of the Bush era. “When George Bush came into office, our debt—national debt was around $5 trillion. It’s now over $10 trillion. We’ve almost doubled it,” he complained in his second debate with Republican nominee John McCain. “We have had over the last eight years the biggest increases in deficit spending and national debt in our history.”

As president, Obama tacked on another $5 trillion in debt in record time. In every measure of basic budgetary incompetence, the last three years have dwarfed the previous eight, despite the candidate convincing a majority of voters of his superior credentials as a fiscal steward. United States debt zoomed through the 100-percent-of-GDP threshold around Halloween, and as the Baby Boomers get ready to scoop up their old-age entitlements, there isn’t even a proposed end to the budget leakage in sight.

And it’s not just the size of government, it’s the scope. Obama has given historical leeway to regulators on health care and financial reform, and (like presidents before him) is increasing his influence on executive branch enforcement at a time when his sway over the congressional branch continues to wane. All of which begs a question: If we just finished three years of a cautious and centrist Obama, what in the name of government vigor will the next 12-60 months look like?

By the end, we may see profligate politicians hanging from lampposts. But there’ll be a lot of bad stuff, too. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Robert Crouse emails:

I know the below post was intended to be funny, but it came across (to me) as a little over the line:

“By the end, we may see profligate politicians hanging from lampposts….,”

Well, in an era when the President himself openly threatens bankers with pitchfork-wielding mobs, and jokes about auditing those who disrespect him, it’s hard to know where the line is. Or if there even is a line. Maybe Frances Fox Piven knows.

But all joking aside, if the current profligacy continues, and America winds up in a Greece-style (or worse) collapse, politicians may not wind up hanging from lampposts (we don’t really do that here), but they will at the very least likely face the kind of investigations, prosecutions, and social opprobrium normally reserved for child molesters and Bernie Madoff types. I don’t think they fully appreciate that. If they did, they’d be acting differently.

MATT WELCH: The Only Thing Missing From “The New Declaration of Independence”: Any Sense That Adults Are Responsible for Their Choices.

Cradle-to-grave employment (at least outside the public sector) has been dead since at least the end of the Cold War. Undergraduate degrees in English and Film and Sociology and Philosophy (and a thousand other subjects) have had debatable workplace utility for as long as I’ve been alive. There have even been previous housing bubbles and busts in Alex Pareene’s lifetime.

I don’t recall anything like the promises so cruelly unkept in Salon’s list. I do remember my father warning me that an engineering degree would be much more useful in the workplace than English, to which I uttered a phrase available to 18-year-olds everywhere: Thanks, Dad; not your call. Ditto for the legions of well-meaning adults urging me to finish my undergraduate degree, to sign up for the Selective Service, and even (when I finally attained a decent living in the second half of my 30s) to pay a mortgage instead of paying rent. One of the best perks about being a grown-up is that you get to make your own choices, and to own the results, good and ill.

Which is why phrases like “wage slaves,” “inescapable debt,” and “force” “force” “force” leave me feeling like a brother from another planet. Adult human beings have agency, the ability (even responsibility!) to run their own cost/benefit analyses and choose accordingly.

Well, some people are doing their best to stamp that out.

Plus this: “And since when have right-thinking liberals from the creative class bragged about ‘playing by the rules’ anyway? Is it really my imagination that the point used to be something closer to the opposite?” That was then, when the pie of Other People’s Money seemed endlessly expanding. Now that it’s contracting, things are different.

I LOVE IT WHEN I BLOG ABOUT STUFF AND PEOPLE SEND ME REPORTS. Matt Welch emails: “Hi Glenn! Re: Your calls for the Occupiers to protest the White House. So I was walking by the front of the White House with my 3-year-old on Sunday, and there was a smallish spur march of Occupiers who came over from McPherson Square to protest the president. This short iPhone video captures just about all of it, and I’m guessing you will enjoy Izidora’s commentary at the end.”

UPDATE: Reader Mary Anne Yeager writes: “I watched the video and it brought to mind the one issue that the main-stream media is ignoring in its coverage of the Occupy Wallstreet game. And that is anti-war protest. These are people who went crazy over war when Bush was president but not so much now. Now in the video, I saw a banner about the Obama wars but no one is pushing that agenda in the news reports. Democrat wars are good, apparently. And not too much of this comes up in the so called movement.”

MATT WELCH: Why The $16 Muffin Is No Joke.

The lesson of government waste, whether on $16 muffins or $535 million loan guarantees to solar power companies or $48 billion in “improper” Medicare payments, is one worth relearning every day.

Managers whose budgets do not depend on customer satisfaction and who do not face competitive pressure in the marketplace, will not, on balance, spend their money wisely. Vendors selling to those managers know that price matters much less than it does to, say, Wal-Mart. And anywhere there is political urgency and official involvement high up the command chain, conditions will begin resembling a gold rush.

Read the whole thing.

Related: Unemployment Cheats Raked in $16.5 Billion Last Year.

UPDATE: Gallup: Americans Say Federal Government Wastes Over Half Of Every Dollar. (Via Kaus on Twitter, who comments: “Davis-Bacon, civ. service, unionism, unfireability–it all adds up 2 kill liberalism.”)


Those (many) who are rubbishing the eminently rubbishable S&P tonight are generally not grappling with something we’ve been talking about for years around these parts: The current fiscal trajectory of the United States is not just deteriorating rapidly, it’s definitionally unsustainable. That’s not crazy libertarians talking, that’s Barack Obama and Ben Bernanke. . . .

I eagerly look forward to this being blamed on libertarians, but even more than that I truly look forward to the day when the political class in this doddering country recognizes that you can’t just wave away a spending spiral by pretending that it doesn’t exist.


GEORGE WILL calls Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie’s Declaration of Independents the beach read of the summer. “America is moving in the libertarians’ direction not because they have won an argument but because government and the sectors it dominates have made themselves ludicrous. This has, however, opened minds to the libertarians’ argument.”

NICK GILLESPIE AND MATT WELCH: What Both Parties Must Understand About The Budget. “What part of ‘we are out of money’ don’t they understand?”

NICK GILLESPIE AND MATT WELCH: Old Media Must Make Way For New Media Landscape.

MATT WELCH AND NICK GILLESPIE: Obama Has Outdone Bush On The Drug War. “Obama has been awful. . . . He’s a bum.”

INSTAVISION: I talk with Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch of Reason, the authors of The Declaration of Independents, about the importance of independent voters. Can libertarians really fix America? (Bumped).

INSTAVISION: I talk with Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch of Reason, the authors of The Declaration of Independents, about the importance of independent voters. Can libertarians really fix America?

MATT WELCH: Some Factual Errors in the Latest Slate Attack on Libertarianism.

IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, an excerpt from Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch’s new book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong With America. “Though rhetorically and theoretically at odds with one another, the two parties have managed to create a mostly unbroken set of policies and governance structures that benefit well-connected groups at the expense of the individual.”

COMING ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15 (that is, tomorrow): Ask A Libertarian! with Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch.

X-MEN: MATT WELCH AND NICK GILLESPIE on why we are all mutants now. “In short, it’s not only easier now for all of us to let our freak flags fly, it’s easier to find somebody who will help us design and produce them in the first place.”

MATT WELCH: “To follow up on Peter Suderman’s great post from yesterday about the predictive unreliability of interest rates (and the bubble mentality inflated by those who cling to low interest rates as proof that there’s no real borrowing problem), here’s a selection of commentators who reacted to this week’s Standard & Poor’s downgrade by flaming the messenger.”

MATT WELCH TO LINDSEY GRAHAM: Show some backbone for once, you cowardly girly-man.

CHANGE! Matt Welch: Obama’s Doctrine Of Pre-Emptive War.

MATT WELCH: “Tea Party Extremism” vs. Major Party Everydayism.