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VENEZUELA COUP: Alarm grows as court takes power.

There have been demonstrations in Venezuela after the Supreme Court took over legislative powers from the National Assembly.

Critics say the development takes the country closer to one-man rule under President Nicolas Maduro.
The Organisation of American States (OAS) described the move as the “final blow to democracy in the country”.

The ruling effectively dissolves the elected legislature which has been dominated by the president’s opponents.

The secretary general of the OAS, Luis Almagro, described the move as a “self-inflicted coup” by Mr Maduro’s government.

It comes after months of consolidation of power by the country’s president, who is locked in a political struggle with the centre-right opposition.

On Thursday the Venezuelan Supreme Court seized power from the opposition-led legislature, a move that could essentially allow it to write laws itself.

Ever notice how a “dictatorship of the proletariat” always ends up looking an awful lot like a regular old dictatorship?

CHANGE: Once Banned in China, Warhol’s Iconic ‘Mao’ Portrait Is Going Up for Auction in Hong Kong.

One of the most well-known images of the 20th century, Warhol’s 1973 Mao was sold for $9.4 million in London in 2014. The current owner, who has not been identified, has now put the silk-screen print up for sale with Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, the BBC reports. The auction is expected on April 2 and the sale could fetch up to $15 million.

Warhol’s iconic depictions of the Communist leader were excluded from the Beijing and Shanghai legs of a 26-month Asian tour that marked the 25th anniversary of the artist’s death in 2012. The series of portraits, in Warhol’s classic pop art style, were rejected due to “political sensitivity.”

Eight-figure speculative art auctions and a dictatorship of the proletariat — 21st Century China in a nutshell.

YA THINK? Former Clinton Adviser: Democratic Party’s ‘Technocratic Speak’ Turning Off Voters

Technocratic speak — talking down to the proles — is one way the Left maintains the proper pecking order. Giving that up won’t be easy, or sincere.

CULTURE: Pope Francis’ Super Bowl Message and Our Elite-Populist Wars.

This is, unfortunately, something lost on all too many in elite circles, particularly in Washington, D.C. Anyone who has spent two minutes in policy circles has met the kind of person who flaunts their ignorance of and disdain for football, or “sportball” in general, as a badge of honor. Bragging about your disdain for something in which the great majority of your fellow men find deep meaning in is a sign of spiritual impoverishment.

Pope Francis and Prof. Mandelbaum are but two of a legion of intellectuals, stretching back to time immemorial, who have gotten the vital symbolic and emotional needs sports play in society. If you need to be convinced academically, you can get this from Aristotle, or Dante, or C.S. Lewis. But it might be more fun to turn on the TV, grab a beer, and get into the spirit of the day.

Sounds dreadfully proletarian. Can you imagine Niles and Frasier Crane doing that?

ANALYSIS: TRUE. The Left Has Lost The Working Class.

Trumps’s popularity with blue collar voters doesn’t come as a particular shock to anyone who followed the campaign. Private sector union bosses supported Hillary Clinton, but their members backed Trump. Trump’s crowds cheered protectionism and his infrastructure plans. Trump’s advisor, Steve Bannon, has clearly signaled that Trump wants to focus on protecting the American working class (many of whom are considered “blue collar”) first and foremost.

To some extent, Democrats aren’t to blame for this shift. The decline of American manufacturing and the accompanying collapse of collective bargaining (only 6.7 percent of private sector employees are unionized) are the result of economic forces outside any political party’s control.

Nevertheless, it’s worth stopping to take note of the remarkable distance between working class voters and the Democratic Party. At least since the 1920s, Democrats have thought of themselves as the party of workers — for a long time because that’s actually what they were. They inherited the Progressive Movement from the Republicans under Woodrow Wilson (reluctantly, in some ways), and then the New Deal cemented their status as guardians of the proletariat. The 1960s brought Medicare and, in the 1980s, they pushed back against Reagan’s pro-business deregulation and market reform efforts.

But starting in the 1960s, Democrats struggled to balance working class politics with identity politics. Identity politics (favored for different reasons by academic and corporate interests alike) won. The Democratic Party now represents a coalition of minorities, well-educated upper middle class urban professionals, and powerful interests in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and to an extent on Wall Street. Much of what’s left of the left’s working class support comes from public sector unions — a perverted application of collective bargaining principles that President Franklin D. Roosevelt believed hurt working class American taxpayers.

FDR was right about that.

Plus: “The election was the referendum on wealth inequality leftwing intellectuals have been predicting since shortly after the financial crisis. It’s just that Trump and the GOP won it.”

WHY HILLARY GOT 200 GRAND A POP FOR HER WALL STREET SPEECHES: “Knowing Hillary’s genuine policy goals is very valuable to investors and business planners. Wall Street toffs who pay her top dollar speaking fees receive off the record insider info American proles don’t get to hear.” See, she holds public and private positions.

CHANGE: Europeans Fear Wave of Refugees Will Mean More Terrorism, Fewer Jobs.

Racist proles and their petty fears.

THE TRUMPEN PROLETARIAT: Barack Obama’s presidency of moral condescension has produced an electoral backlash, Dan Henninger writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Political correctness added something new to the cultural divide: moral condescension.

What has really “angered” so many more millions who now feel drawn into the Trump camp isn’t just PC itself but that its proponents show such relentless moral contempt and superiority toward everyone else. People in America can take a lot, but not that. Marx would have a field day with how progressivism’s cultural elites have reordered social classes between the right-minded and everyone else.

Despite years of winning Supreme Court assent to their views, the left insists that the other side must remain on the moral hook. On race, sex or the environment the moralistic left seems to think it can keep the population incarcerated forever on vague, unproven charges of cultural guilt. For what?

In nearly eight years of presidential speeches, Barack Obama, by explicit choice, has come to embody the holier-than-thou idea of showing secular moral contempt for those who disagree with him.

And he’s far from alone in that department on the left, which openly wears its smug on its sleeves. As Glenn noted yesterday, “After anti-Trump remarks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg would have to recuse herself. And some say she’d have to recuse on any cases involving Trump if he were elected. Or, I suppose, maybe even if he weren’t.”

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: NJ third grader mentions brownies being served at class party, called racist by another student, police dispatched:

On June 16, police were called to an unlikely scene: an end-of-the-year class party at the William P. Tatem Elementary School in Collingswood.

A third grader had made a comment about the brownies being served to the class. After another student exclaimed that the remark was “racist,” the school called the Collingswood Police Department, according to the mother of the boy who made the comment.

The police officer spoke to the student, who is 9, said the boy’s mother, Stacy dos Santos, and local authorities.

Dos Santos said that the school overreacted and that her son made a comment about snacks, not skin color.

“He said they were talking about brownies. . . . Who exactly did he offend?” dos Santos said.

No one of course, but like the Junior Spies in Orwell’s 1984, it’s always good for “Progressives” to use hapless kids to keep the rest of the proles on their toes. As Jonah Goldberg wrote in 2008’s Liberal Fascism, “Because liberals have what Thomas Sowell calls an ‘unconstrained vision,’ they assume everyone sees things through the same categorical prism:”

So once again, as with the left’s invention of social Darwinism, liberals assume their ideological opposites take the “bad” view to their good. If liberals assume blacks—or women, or gays—are inherently good, conservatives must think these same groups are inherently bad.

This is not to say that there are no racist conservatives. But at the philosophical level, liberalism is battling a straw man. This is why liberals must constantly assert that conservatives use code words—because there’s nothing obviously racist about conservatism per se. Indeed, the constant manipulation of the language to keep conservatives—and conservatives—and other non-liberals—on the defensive is a necessary tactic for liberal politics. The Washington, D.C., bureaucrat who was fired for using the word “niggardly” correctly in a sentence is a case in point. The ground must be constantly shifted to maintain a climate of grievance. Fascists famously ruled by terror. Political correctness isn’t literally terroristic, but it does govern through fear. No serious person can deny that the grievance politics of the American left keeps decent people in a constant state of fright—they are afraid to say the wrong word, utter the wrong thought, offend the wrong constituency.

Which is why everything must be racist, right down to the food on your kids’ plates.

Related: Needless to say, racism is also a particularly useful cudgel for “Progressives” at election time.

THE MARRIAGE OF REASON AND NIGHTMARE: “Novelist J. G. Ballard exposes the fragility of the affluent society,” Theodore Dalrymple wrote in 2008 at City Journal; the Website links to that article in a “From the Archive” link on their current homepage:

All of Ballard’s novels have a Robinson Crusoe theme: What happens to man when the props of civilization are removed from him, as they so easily are, by external circumstances or by the operation of his secret desires or by both in concert? Ballard’s past gave him an awareness of the fragility of things, even when they appear most solid; and in the introduction to his collected short stories, he tells us that he is “interested in the real future that I could see approaching.” His method: extrapolate something—a trend, a feeling of dissatisfaction—that he detects in the present; magnify it; and then examine its consequences. He is a recorder of what he calls “the visionary present,” a sociological Swift who claims (half-mistakenly, I think) that he does not write with a moral purpose but instead serves as “a scout who is sent on ahead to see if the water is drinkable or not.”

* * * * * * *

This represents an important insight. When I briefly served as a kind of vulgarity correspondent for a British newspaper—it sent me anywhere the British gathered to behave badly—I discovered to my surprise that the middle classes behaved in crowds with the same menacing disinhibition as their supposed social and educational inferiors. They swore and screamed abuse and made fascistic gestures and urinated in the street with the same abandon that they attributed to the proletarians. It was Ballard who first spotted that the bourgeoisie wanted to proletarianize itself without losing its economic privileges or political power.

In Millennium People, the residents of an affluent housing project called Chelsea Marina “had set about dismantling their middle-class world. They lit bonfires of books and paintings, educational toys and videos. . . . They had quietly discarded their world as if putting out their rubbish for collection. All over England an entire professional caste was rejecting everything it had worked so hard to secure.”

This strikes me as a suggestive metaphor for much that has happened over the last four decades, not only in England (though especially here) but also throughout parts of Western society. We have become bored with what we have inherited, to which, for lack of talent, we have contributed so humiliatingly little.

Ballard died at age 78 in 2009, a year after Dalrymple’s encomium. England may soon wish it could go back to bored once again — and remind itself how much it once took for granted.

IT KEEPS THE PROLES IN THEIR PLACE: NIMBYism and Green Bias Keeps New England Power Rates High.

New England should be benefiting a lot more from the U.S. shale boom than it currently is. The Marcellus shale is one of the most productive formations in the country, and fracking has unleashed massive new quantities of natural gas from the basin, situated in Pennsylvania and southern New York. Despite its proximity to this new gusher of gas, New England electricity is expensive, in large part the result of a dearth of necessary pipeline infrastructure.

One company especially keen on constructing a new pipeline spur through Massachusetts and New Hampshire just scrapped the $3 billion project this week, bowing to stiff Not-In-My-Back-Yard (NIMBY) and environmental opposition. . . .

NIMBYism is a perennial problem for any sort of infrastructure planning, but often it can be overcome by offering affected landowners financial compensation. The green opposition, however, can’t be reasoned with. Never mind that the natural gas being piped in directly competes with coal, and does so while emitting half the greenhouse gases and far fewer of the localized pollutants. Never mind that the natural gas not finding its way to New England will be consumed elsewhere—either in a different region of the United States, or thanks to our fledging LNG export industry, abroad. These facts don’t matter to the environmentalists that helped sink this pipeline. The only fact that does matter to those greens is that this pipeline would be transporting a fossil fuel. The horror!

All the way back to its beginnings in the Storm King era, environmentalism has been a way for rich people to wage war on the poor and middle class.

THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE VIDEOFREEX FROM MARS. We now take for granted YouTube’s ability to birth DIY performers who eventually acquire large followings and of course, video cameras built into smart phones and tablets have become ubiquitous. But just as DARPA was crafting the notion of an interconnected network of computers in the late 1960s, portable DIY video technology was also being birthed during that period, as authors Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad write near the beginning of their 1985 book Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live. Without Sony’s invention, “It’s possible that the underground [comedy movement, which SNL creator Lorne Michaels tapped into for his first stars and writers] might have bypassed television altogether had it not been for the Sony Corporation’s introduction in the late 1960s of portable video cameras and recorders that were affordable by the public at large:”

That technology spawned a movement known as guerrilla television, which was populated by hundreds of long-hairs carrying Porta-Pak units, nascent auteurs who’d previously had no access to the mechanisms of television production and who set out to invent their own kind of programs. One such guerrilla remembers showing up with his partner at the house of a famous Hollywood writer, hoping to tell him some of their ideas. They were laden with gear, their hair hung well past their shoulders, and they wore fatigue jackets and pants. The memory of the Manson murders was still strong at the time, and the writer’s wife, answering the door and seeing the equipment they were carrying, thought it was some kind of machine gun and ran screaming back inside.

In his latest film review at NRO, Armond White explores the Videofreex, one of the leftwing underground groups producing guerrilla television in the years that preceded SNL, the subject of a new documentary Here Come the Videofreex:

Entitlement is quite different from “Civil Rights,” and Here Come the Videofreex helps us understand how the two things became closely linked and then were tied in with the self-satisfaction of media domination. Directors Jon Nealon and Jenny Raskin observe those Sixties youth who felt that through the then-new video technology they could more accurately address the proletariat — a sense of righteous free expression like the social networking of cell phones, Twitter, and innumerable blogs. They were eventually crushed by corporate media’s ultimate indifference. CBS sacked the Videofreex but let them keep the “worthless” technology, which led to the Videofreex’ brief pirate TV enterprise.

It’s amazing to see this all laid out in an indie documentary while we currently contend with the bewildering, flip-flopping propaganda of MSNBC, Fox Cable News, and the shamelessly pandering CNN — all 21st-century videofreaks with small regard for reporting or objectivity. Their “news” cycles merely exploit American politics.

Co-director Raskin had worked on the 2013 Our Nixon, the most compassionate of all Watergate documentaries, which most reviewers misunderstood — seemingly deliberately. Today’s media politics all result from class privilege: Millionaire newsreaders follow the dictates of their behind-the-scenes tycoon bosses (broadcasters committed to the status quo and partisan politricks). They’re determined to influence the voting and polling patterns of viewers and readers. This is what the now-aged provocateurs of Here Come the Videofreex teach us. Parry Teasdale, Davidson Gigliotti, Skip Blumberg, Chuck Kennedy, Carol Vontobel, Ann Woodward, Bart Friedman, and others recall their pasts without guile, even as they lament their inability to fully “democratize” the U.S. media.

And note this: “When a veteran hippie mused, ‘Turning people on to video was like turning them on to grass,’ it seems stunningly naïve. It’s also au courant.”

Which dovetails well with an encomium to a man who also seemed to singlehandedly craft his own culture during the early 1970s, David Bowie. As Nick Gillespie writes in the latest issue of Reason, “David Bowie Was a Time Traveler from Our Hyper-Personalized Future — The star who made it cool to be a freak,” though a very different “freak” from the Videofreex, needless to say:

In 1987, he returned to West Berlin, where he had made an exceptional set of records in the late 1970s, including several with his muse and protégé Iggy Pop. There he played a concert so loud it could be heard in communist East Berlin. The Internet abounds with footage from the show, which is capped by an absolutely brilliant version of “Heroes,” his ballad of doomed lovers who literally meet in the shadow of the Berlin Wall to steal a moment (“I can remember standing by the wall, and the guns shot above our heads”).

Just days after the concert, President Ronald Reagan also performed in Berlin, delivering one of his most memorable lines: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Who’s to say that the example of Bowie, who personified not only the freedom of expression but the sybaritic desire that the Communists had unsuccessfully tried to stamp out, wasn’t as important to the Wall’s destruction as the arms race? The day after his death, the German government tweeted, “Good-bye, David Bowie…Thank you for helping to bring down the #wall.”

Bowie was exceptionally well-read (his list of 100 favorite books ranges from Madame Bovary to The Gnostic Gospels) and was renowned for his knowledge of blues, folk, jazz, and experimental music. (He introduced U.S. audiences to the German avant garde perfomer Klaus Nomi on Saturday Night Live, of all venues.) Yet only fools look to celebrities and artists—especially rock stars—for moral instruction and political programs. We’re wiser to seek artists for inspiration and ideas on how we might expand our own horizons and think about our own possibilities.

It’s in this sense that Bowie was a time traveler from our own future, where we all feel more comfortable not just being who we are but in trying out different things to see whom we might want to become. Certainly, an entire species of performer, from U2 to Madonna to Lady Gaga to Jay-Z (who sampled “Fame” in his 2001 track “Takeover”) were influenced by him.

And unlike many rock stars, Bowie created continuity with earlier forms of popular music, not only by covering various old songs (“Wild Is the Wind” is a memorable instance) but by incongruously appearing with Bing Crosby on der Bingle’s 1977 Merrie Olde Christmas TV Special, which gave birth to Crosby and Bowie’s enduringly beautiful and strange duet of “Peace on Earth/The Little Drummer Boy.”

Back in 2007, I wrote a piece for the Rand-themed New Individualist magazine titled “Welcome to My.Culture — How Emerging Technologies Allow Anyone to Create His Own Culture.” (Somehow, when the piece went to the Web, the subhead replaced the editor’s original title from the print edition, unfortunately):

Through television, newspapers, radio, and advertising, the mass culture of the twentieth century created easily understandable points of reference for virtually everyone. Often, these were low and crude and coarse. But everyone knew who Ralph Cramden was. Who Batman was. Who Vince Lombardi was. You might not have known who Gene Roddenberry was, but you knew that NBC had a show starring a guy with pointed ears.

Today, however, we’re looking at that shared culture in the rearview mirror, and with mixed emotions. In fact, we’re witnessing the death throes of mass culture. It’s being replaced, not by the elder President Bush’s “thousand points of light,” but by a thousand fractured micro-cultures, each of which knows only a little bit about what’s going on in the next micro-culture thriving on the website next door.

As James Lileks of Lileks.com and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Buzz.mn told me a couple of years ago: “Take a basically divided populace—the old red and blue paradigm—and then shove that through a prism which splinters it into millions of different individual demographics, each of which have their own music channel, their own website, their own Blogosphere, their own porn preferences delivered daily by email solicitations. I mean, it’s hard to say whether or not there will eventually be a common culture for which we can have sport, other than making fun of the fact that we really lack a common culture.”

This trend has both good and bad aspects. But before we turn our attention to that—and what it may bode for our future—it might be useful first to review how we got here.

Though I have no doubt that I’ll be repulsed by their reactionary socialist-anarchist message, I’m looking forward to seeing the Videofreex documentary, at least when it comes to Amazon Prime or Netflix. Decades before YouTube, iPhones and GoPros, their taking advantage of the first portable video technology was itself the real revolution (a textbook example of McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message” aphorism). Gillespie makes a very good case that Bowie was a similar sort of revolutionary — and the recording studio technology he (and his frequent producers Tony Visconti and Nile Rodgers) mastered is similarly now available inside of a reasonably-equipped PC. And as old media continues to be an even vaster version of the vast wasteland that JFK’s FCC Chairman Newton Minnow infamously described, making your own culture as an alternative seems more important than ever. Think of it as the Nockian Remnant with iPhones.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS:

Which is why pointing the finger at Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck for the crimes of Jared Lee Loughner is only partially correct. The strident and vocal standard bearers in the various Tea Party movements, exemplified in Arizona by the likes of Russell Pearce and Jack Harper, could not develop such a big fan base were they not enablers for a much larger group of people who take the Roosevelt way of looking at the world to heart. Using crosshairs in a gun sight to identify political opponents would not seem that strange to them, because they see politics as a zero-sum game in which one’s opponent should be stuffed and hung on the wall next to the deer heads Sarah shows off on her Alaska show. Many progressives want to say that the lumpen proletariat would not be so wacko without a Fox News or Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin to stir them up. I say we can assign a certain amount of blame to the chefs in the kitchen, but we also have to identify the problem at its source.

—Loring Wirbel, “Violent Depravity as a National Pastime,” Monday, January 10, 2011, after an apolitical lunatic severely wounded Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, killed Bush #41-appointed Federal Judge John Roll, and shot 17 others.

Loring Wirbel, board member of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Colorado chapter and co-chair of the ACLU’s Colorado Springs chapter, called for supporters of GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump to be shot before they vote for the billionaire businessman.

Comparing Trump to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, Wirbel wrote in his Facebook page:

The thing is, we have to really reach out to those who might consider voting for Trump and say, “This is Goebbels. This is the final solution. If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before election day.” They’re not going to listen to reason, so when justice is gone, there’s always force, as Laurie would say.

—“Colorado ACLU Board Member: Shoot Trump Voters ‘Before Election Day,’” as spotted by Derek Hunter of the Daily Caller, today.

By the way, note the Eiffel Tower-as-peace symbol on Wirbel’s Facebook page:

loring_wirbel_shoot_trump_voters_12-10-15

BEHOLD THE TRUMPEN PROLETARIAT: “No Movement That Embraces Trump Can Call Itself Conservative,” Jonah Goldberg exclaims. Is he right?

RELATED: “Today’s column by arch-leftist Paul Krugman is titled, ‘Trump Is Right on Economics.’ Krugman’s theme is that of all the Republican presidential candidates, Trumps’s views on the economy are closest to Krugman’s.” What could go wrong?

WHY DO FEMINISTS HATE YOUNG MEN AND WANT TO DESTROY THEM? Ashe Schow: Opponent of new campus due process bill doesn’t hide her contempt for basic rights.

An opponent of a new bill aimed at providing due process rights to students accused of sexual assault disparaged the thought of such constitutional rights because schools “must prioritize the needs of survivors first and foremost.”

That’s all well and good, but one does not know whether someone is truly a “survivor” unless his or her story can hold up to scrutiny, something deliberately absent from current campus hearings. But that doesn’t seem to matter to Sarah Merriman, a spokeswoman for SAFER Campus, who told the Washington Post why she opposes the “Safe Campus Act.”

I suspect deep-rooted psychological problems. But then, there’s also this observation from Joan Didion:

“Marxism in this country had even been an eccentric and quixotic passion. One oppressed class after another had seemed finally to miss the point. The have-nots, it turned out, aspired mainly to having. The minorities seemed to promise more, but finally disappointed: it developed that they actually cared about the issues, that they tended to see the integration of the luncheonette and the seat in the front of the bus as real goals, and only rarely as ploys, counters in a larger game. They resisted that essential inductive leap from the immediate reform to the social ideal, and, just as disappointingly, they failed to perceive their common cause with other minorities, continued to exhibit a self-interest disconcerting in the extreme to organizers steeped in the rhetoric of ‘brotherhood.’ And then, at that exact dispirited moment when there seemed no one at all willing to play the proletariat, along came the women’s movement, and the invention of women as a ‘class.’…”

And, finally, they found someone willing to swallow the bullshit whole. And, you know, you have to break a few young-man eggs to make the feminist omelette.

BRUCE THORNTON: The Truth About Western “Colonialism”.

Historical terms like “imperialism” and “colonialism,” Conquest wrote, now refer to “a malign force with no program but the subjugation and exploitation of innocent people.” As such, these terms are verbal “mind-blockers and thought-extinguishers,” which serve “mainly to confuse, and of course to replace, the complex and needed process of understanding with the simple and unneeded process of inflammation.” Particularly in the Middle East, “colonialism” has been used to obscure the factual history that accounts for that region’s chronic dysfunctions, and has legitimized policies doomed to fail because they are founded on distortions of that history.

The simplistic discrediting of colonialism and its evil twin imperialism became prominent in the early twentieth century. In 1902 J.A. Hobson’s influential Imperialism: A Study reduced colonialism to a malign economic phenomenon, the instrument of capitalism’s “economic parasites,” as Hobson called them, who sought resources, markets, and profits abroad. In 1917, Vladimir Lenin, faced with the failure of classical Marxism’s historical predictions of the proletarian revolution, in 1917 built on Hobson’s ideas in Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. Now the indigenous colonized peoples would perform the historical role of destroying capitalism that the European proletariat had failed to fulfill.

These ideas influenced the anti-colonial movements after World War II. John-Paul Sartre, in his introduction to Franz Fanon’s anti-colonial screed The Wretched of the Earth, wrote, “Natives of the underdeveloped countries unite!” substituting the Third World for classic Marxism’s “workers of the world.” This leftist idealization of the colonial Third World and its demonization of the capitalist West have survived the collapse of the Soviet Union and the discrediting of Marxism, and have become received wisdom both in academe and popular culture. It has underwritten the reflexive guilt of the West, the idea that “every Westerner is presumed guilty until proven innocent,” as French philosopher Pascal Bruckner writes, for the West contains an “essential evil that must be atoned for,” colonialism and imperialism.

This leftist interpretation of words like colonialism and imperialism transforms them into ideologically loaded terms that ultimately distort the tragic truths of history. They imply that Europe’s explorations and conquests constituted a new order of evil. In reality, the movements of peoples in search of resources, as well as the destruction of those already in possession of them, is the perennial dynamic of history.

Meh. We heard a lot about the savagery of the Belgian Congo. The Belgians are no longer there, but the Congo is not notably improved.

MOTHER’S DAY, PROGRESSIVE STYLE:  Kentucky child protective services has forcibly taken 10 children from their parents, Joe and Nicole Naughler, based on an anonymous tip.  Their “crime”? The parents are Mormons who live off the grid and to “un-school” their children, a type of homeschooling that emphasizes learning through life experiences, play, household management, travel, family and reading books– you know, the way children have been raised for much of history, before “public” schools were invented by statists in the latter half of the 1800s.

The Naughler family may be off-the-grid, but they’ve had a Facebook page called “Blessed Little Homestead” for several years.  On the Facebook page, the Naughler’s have posted recent pictures, including a picture of an “emergency custody order affidavit” issued by child services, in which the affiant (whose name is whited out) “the family is residing on property with only one makeshift shed and two makeshift tents.  Allegations are that there is no running water and no septic and the mother and father refuse to cooperate with the Cabinet and the police. Children are not living in appropriate conditions and are no [sic] enrolled in school.  The parents refuse to cooperate with the investigation.”  They also provide pictures of the sheds in which they live and the children, who all look healthy and happy.

It seems to me the “crime” this family has committed is living unconventionally– off-the-grid, and outside the public school system.  While I wouldn’t want to live this way personally, people must have liberty to do so, if there is to be any liberty at all. Parents must have the right to raise their children as they see fit, short of evidence of child abuse, which in this instance, seems utterly lacking.  The Supreme Court, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), invalidated an Oregon law that required all children to attend public school, concluding:

[It] unreasonably interferes with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control. The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excluded any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right and the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.

A famous progressive brief in the Pierce case, penned by the State of Oregon, argued that the mandatory public school law was necessary to properly educate “the State’s children” and thus overrode any parents’ right to direct the upbringing of their own children.  This notion– of children as belonging to the State, rather than the parents–is a persistent theme in progressivism/communism.  Just ask MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry.  Or Hillary Clinton, who famously proclaimed in 1996 that  “[W]e have learned that to raise a happy, healthy, and hopeful child, it takes a family, it takes teachers, it takes clergy, it takes business people, it takes community leaders it takes those who protect our health and safety, it takes all of us.  Yes, it takes a village.”   And in Komunistka, published in 1920, the communist vision of children was articulated:

Under capitalism children were frequently, too frequently, a heavy and unbearable burden on the proletarian family. Communist society will come to the aid of the parents. In Soviet Russia the Commissariats of Public Education and of Social Welfare are already doing much to assist the family. We already have homes for very small babies, creches, kindergartens, children’s colonies and homes, hospitals and health resorts for sick children. restaurants, free lunches at school and free distribution of text books, warm clothing and shoes to schoolchildren. All this goes to show that the responsibility for the child is passing from the family to the collective. . . .

The playgrounds, gardens, homes and other amenities where the child will spend the greater part of the day under the supervision of qualified educators will, on the other hand, offer an environment in which the child can grow up a conscious communist who recognizes the need for solidarity, comradeship, mutual help and loyalty to the collective. . . . There is no escaping the fact: the old type of family has had its day. The family is withering away not because it is being forcibly destroyed by the state, but because the family is ceasing to be a necessity.

Sound familiar?  It should.  The forcible removal of the Kentucky 10 children reminds me a lot of the Massachusetts girl, Jessica Pellietier, who was removed from her family and spent 16 months in State custody based on ridiculous, unfounded concerns of doctors at Boston Chidren’s Hospital, who second-guessed her existing Tufts University doctors’ diagnosis.  Or how about the removal in January of 7 children from an Arkansas home, after an anonymous caller said the children were running barefoot in the snow.  The parents were religious “preppers” who have homeschooled 9 children (two were grown and lived outside the home at the time the other 7 were taken by the State).  The children are still in State custody.

It is getting far, far too easy for idiotic progressives to impose their views, and take children out of their homes based on their belief that they aren’t getting the “right” care, the “right” education, or the “right” modern amenities.  There is a major difference between “unconventional” parenting and child abuse.

For all of you good, loving parents out there: embrace your children and teach them well.  Happy Mother’s Day.

JONATHAN TURLEY: Critics of Indiana’s religious freedom law are trying to have their cake and eat it, too. “In their rush to support same-sex rights, they’ve been too quick to dismiss legitimate questions about free speech and expression.” I think it’s mostly about the joy of bullying the proles from flyover country.

DINNER, WITH A SIDE OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS:

As Bovy notes, asking people to “eat local” who live in northern climes where “local” means “nothing green” for six or seven months out of the year, and do not get to spend a few months each winter in Sicily teaching a cooking class, is pretty rich. A food writer who is telling other people how they could eat, if they wanted to, is doing a great public service. A food writer who is telling other people how they should eat (just like me, except without my access to ingredients) is just obnoxious. You can’t possibly know how they should eat, unless you have spent some time living their lives.

It is well to remember that people who spend time professionally writing about food have quite a bit more time in their day for acquiring and cooking food than most people. They also have more resources and recipes at their disposal. And you know, they can move to California to enjoy the produce.

Nor is it just the tyranny of localism; it is the list of ingredients that you ought to like, and the list of ingredients that you shouldn’t, and what the hell is wrong with you troglodytes and your Twinkies?

It’s about status competition, and setting yourself apart from the proles. And, to some degree, it’s a substitute for religion.

THE MORE DOMESTIC OIL WE PRODUCE, THE BETTER FOR US AND THE WORSE FOR THE WORLD’S NASTY PETRO-STATES: Could Florida Be the Next Oil Powerhouse?

Florida may have a wealth of oil and gas buried just off its shores that, if tapped, could make the state one of America’s leading energy producers.

Geologists believe — and ongoing energy development in the central and western Gulf of Mexico strongly suggests — that there are vast oil and gas deposits just east of those areas, in the federal outer continental shelf off Florida’s West Coast, which Congress has declared off-limits to drilling until 2022.

U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management officials would oversee geologic exploration along the Atlantic coast from Delaware Bay to Central Florida and as far as 400 miles offshore.

The potential economic effects of unlocking this potentially massive resource are undeniable. One need only look to recession-proof Texas to understand how energy development can benefit a state.

Well, we certainly wouldn’t want a recession-proof economy for America. The proles might reach Texas levels of uppityness.

UPDATE: Link was wrong before. Fixed now. Sorry!

WAR ON WOMEN: Funny how timely this 1972 piece from Joan Didion on feminism remains today:

And then, at that exact dispirited moment when there seemed no one at all willing to play the proletariat, along came the women’s movement, and the invention of women as a “class.” One could not help admiring the radical simplicity of this instant transfiguration. The notion that, in the absence of a cooperative proletariat, a revolutionary class might simply be invented, made up, “named” and so brought into existence, seemed at once so pragmatic and so visionary, so precisely Emersonian, that it took the breath away, exactly confirmed one’s idea of where 19th-century transcendental instincts crossed with a late reading of Engels and Marx might lead. To read the theorists of the women’s movement was to think not of Mary Wollstonecraft but of Margaret Fuller at her most high-minded, of rushing position papers off to mimeo and drinking tea from paper cups in lieu of eating lunch; of thin raincoats on bitter nights. If the family was the last fortress of capitalism, then let us abolish the family. If the necessity for conventional reproduction of the species seemed unfair to women, then let us transcend, via technology, “the very organization of nature,” the oppression, as Shulamith Firestone saw it, “that goes back through recorded history to the animal kingdom itself.” I accept the universe, Margaret Fuller had finally allowed: Shulamith Firestone did not. . . .

They totted up the pans scoured, the towels picked off the bathroom floor, the loads of laundry done in a lifetime. Cooking a meal could only be “dogwork,” and to claim any pleasure from it was evidence of craven acquiescence in one’s own forced labor. Small children could only be odious mechanisms for the spilling and digesting of food, for robbing women of their “freedom.” It was a long way from Simone de Beauvoir’s grave and awesome recognition of woman’s role as “the Other” to the notion that the first step in changing that role was Alix Kates Shulman’s marriage contract (“wife strips beds, husband remakes them”) reproduced in Ms; but it was toward just such trivialization that the women’s movement seemed to be heading. . . .

But of course something other than an objection to being “discriminated against” was at work here, something other than an aversion to being “stereotyped” in one’s sex role. Increasingly it seemed that the aversion was to adult sexual life itself: how much cleaner to stay forever children. One is constantly struck, in the accounts of lesbian relationships which appear from time to time in the movement literature, by the emphasis on the superior “tenderness” of the relationship, the “gentleness” of the sexual connection, as if the participants were wounded birds. The derogation of assertiveness as “machismo” has achieved such currency that one imagines several million women to delicate to deal with a man more overtly sexual than, say, David Cassidy. Just as one had gotten the unintended but inescapable suggestion, when told about the “terror and revulsion” experienced by women in the vicinity of construction sites, of creatures too “tender” for the abrasiveness of daily life, too fragile for the streets, so now one was getting, in the later literature of the movement, the impression of women too “sensitive” for the difficulties and ambiguities of adult life, women unequipped for reality and grasping at the movement as a rationale for denying that reality.

Read the whole thing.

Related:

Looking back on his famous battle with feminists, Norman Mailer once said, “I was chosen as the sexist pig mainly because I was the most available target. The women saying, ‘Let’s have a revolution,’ were having a revolution, but the revolution was taking place in New York. They weren’t going down to Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas, and saying to the men down there, ‘Let’s free the women down here.’ They were freeing the women in New York who were already free. They were occupying powerful jobs in New York. They were a strong element in the publishing houses. So, in other words, it was a false revolution to a certain degree.”

Indeed.

KYLE SMITH: Why Democrats insist on lying about how ‘poor’ they are.

Hillary Clinton claimed that, at the moment she and her husband were signing up for $18 million in book deals, that they were “dead broke.”

Harry Reid (who lives in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel) said liberals are getting bullied by Republican billionaires but the Democratic Party “doesn’t have many billionaires” behind it.

Joe Biden (family earnings: $407,000 last year plus a free house, driver, meals, etc.) claims he “I don’t own a single stock or bond. . . . I have no savings accounts . . . I’m the poorest man in Congress.” (Triple fail: Joe isn’t poor, isn’t in Congress and wouldn’t be the poorest member of it if he were.)

Right here in New York, we’ve learned that City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the daughter of a wealthy doctor who left a $6.7 million inheritance, took advantage of a no-interest loan intended for underprivileged New Yorkers to buy a Harlem townhouse. Then she forgot to declare the rental income on required city disclosure forms. The townhouse you and I helped buy her for $240,000 is today worth $1.2 million.

The more Democrats insist on their proletarian cred, the more absurd it gets. They’re no longer just holier than thou: Now they’re prolier than thou.

Heh.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Joel Kotkin: The U.S. Middle Class Is Turning Proletarian.

The decline has less to do with the power of the “one percent” per se than with the drying up of opportunity amid what is seen on Wall Street and in the White House as a sustained recovery. Despite President Obama’s rhetorical devotion to reducing inequality, it has widened significantly under his watch. Not only did the income of the middle 60% of households drop between 2010 and 2012 while that of the top 20% rose, the income of the middle 60% declined by a greater percentage than the poorest quintile. The middle 60% of earners’ share of the national pie has fallen from 53% in 1970 to 45% in 2012.

This group, what I call the yeoman class — the small business owners, the suburban homeowners , the family farmers or skilled construction tradespeople– is increasingly endangered. Once the dominant class in America, it is clearly shrinking.

Since the 1960s, the progressives have waged war against “middle class morality.” What better way to undermine it than to get rid of the middle class?

PROGRESS IN OBAMA’S WAR ON INEQUALITY: “Last year the US made great strides towards a more equal society: we cut the number of millionaires by more than 100,000. According to a study from the Boston Consulting Group, 129,000 evil US millionaires rejoined the ranks of the proletariat last year as the value of their stocks, cash and other non-business and non-property assets fell below the magic number.”

Leftists are unhappy not that some are poor, but that others are rich.

STEPHEN GREEN: Pay Up, Suckers! “It’s not like you weren’t warned, proles.”

INTERVIEW: Joel Kotkin on the Great California Exodus.

Nearly four million more people have left the Golden State in the last two decades than have come from other states. This is a sharp reversal from the 1980s, when 100,000 more Americans were settling in California each year than were leaving. According to Mr. Kotkin, most of those leaving are between the ages of 5 and 14 or 34 to 45. In other words, young families.

The scruffy-looking urban studies professor at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., has been studying and writing on demographic and geographic trends for 30 years. Part of California’s dysfunction, he says, stems from state and local government restrictions on development. These policies have artificially limited housing supply and put a premium on real estate in coastal regions.

“Basically, if you don’t own a piece of Facebook or Google and you haven’t robbed a bank and don’t have rich parents, then your chances of being able to buy a house or raise a family in the Bay Area or in most of coastal California is pretty weak,” says Mr. Kotkin.

While many middle-class families have moved inland, those regions don’t have the same allure or amenities as the coast. People might as well move to Nevada or Texas, where housing and everything else is cheaper and there’s no income tax.

And things will only get worse in the coming years as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and his green cadre implement their “smart growth” plans to cram the proletariat into high-density housing. “What I find reprehensible beyond belief is that the people pushing [high-density housing] themselves live in single-family homes and often drive very fancy cars, but want everyone else to live like my grandmother did in Brownsville in Brooklyn in the 1920s,” Mr. Kotkin declares.

Read the whole thing.

LIFE IN MANHATTAN: Upper East Siders don’t want the proles lingering around the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

PERFORMANCE ENHANCERS: Opiate of the Student Proletariat?

ANNE APPLEBAUM: It’s not the rich who are destroying middle America, it’s the upper-middle-class.

Related: Stuck At the Bottom: Culture And The American Dream.

UPDATE: Maybe it’s more a New Class problem. Here’s something I wrote a while back:

Rand Simberg blames BBC snobbery on upper-middle-class sensibilities, and I think he’s almost right. It’s really a case of New Class sensibilities.

I can’t help but notice that anti-Americanism, and the various manifestations of what some have called Transnational Progressivism, are most common among people who, well, have state-supported managerial or intellectual jobs, the people who made up what Milovan Djilas and others called the “New Class” of bureaucrats and managers in the old Communist world. Not surprisingly, the New Class was deeply concerned with matters of status and position, and deeply opposed to things that might have led to competition on merit. There’s nothing new about such a view, which predated communism: As David Levy and Sandra Peart note, it’s an attitude that even in the nineteenth century was characteristic of anti-capitalists and anti-semites – and, nowadays, there’s a lot of overlap between anti-capitalists, anti-semites, and anti-Americans.

A common thread among anti-semitism, anti-capitalism, and anti-Americanism is the fear of being outdone by people willing to work harder. It’s not surprising that such a fear exists among a disproportionate number of those who take state-supported jobs. It’s thus not surprising, then, that New Class sensibilities are so often anti-American and anti-capitalist, and increasingly (or perhaps I should say, once again) anti-Semitic, too. The New Class, in this regard, as in many others, is like the old haut-bourgeoisie.

The New Class is characterized as much by self-importance as by higher income, and is far more eager to keep the proles in their place than, say, Applebaum’s small-town dentist. It’s thus not surprising that as its influence has grown, economic opportunity has increasingly been closed down by government barriers.

MORE: Further thoughts from Ross Douthat:

The public-sector workplace has become a kind of artificial Eden, whose fortunate inhabitants enjoy solid pay and 1950s-style job security and retirement benefits, all of it paid for by their less-fortunate private-sector peers. Some on the left have convinced themselves that this “success” can lay the foundation for a broader middle-class revival. But if a bloated public sector were the blueprint for a thriving middle-class society, then the whole world would be beating a path to Greece’s door.

Our entitlement system, meanwhile, is designed to redistribute wealth. But this redistribution doesn’t go from the idle rich to the working poor; it goes from young to old, working-age savings to retiree consumption, middle-class parents to empty-nest seniors. . . . Then there’s the public education system, theoretically the nation’s most important socioeconomic equalizer. Yet even though government spending on K-to-12 education has more than doubled since the 1970s, test scores have flatlined and the United States has fallen behind its developed-world rivals. Meanwhile, federal spending on higher education has been undercut by steadily inflating tuitions, in what increasingly looks like an academic answer to the housing bubble. (If the Occupy Wall Street dream of student loan forgiveness were fulfilled, this cycle would probably just continue.)

The story of the last three decades, in other words, is not the story of a benevolent government starved of funds by selfish rich people and fanatical Republicans. It’s a story of a public sector that has consistently done less with more, and a liberalism that has often defended the interests of narrow constituencies — public-employee unions, affluent seniors, the education bureaucracy — rather than the broader middle class.

Do tell.

DISPATCHES FROM THE INNER PARTY: ‘Yes,’ said O’Brien, ‘we can turn it off. We have that privilege.'”

The Proles, and members of the Outer Party aren’t nearly as fortunate.

WILL WILKINSON OFFERS A SCORNFUL REVIEW of David Brooks’ new book. “Brooks supplies neither drama, high emotion, nor the mindbending metaphysics of aging without time. He serves up instead a shapeless story of ruling-class, Davos-goers so tedious, so lacking in passion and intensity, one begins to hope Harry and Erica will be pursued by proletarian lynch-mobs, revealed as rubber fetishists, or at least stranded at sea one ominous afternoon on a friend’s yacht, just so one may be sure these cardboard cutouts have functioning cardboard hearts. . . . The story of Harold and Erica does not really illustrate a new, coherent, science-based theory of human nature. It is a bowl hammered from Brooks’ philosophic predilections into which a jumbled stew of scientific anecdotes is poured. And it is not good stew.”

CITIZEN ACTIVIST GRATES ON STATE: STATE TRIES TO SHUT HIM UP. Get this: Citizens come up with an 8 page traffic plan presentation with diagrams and traffic projections to make their case, and the state — in the person of North Carolina chief traffic engineer Kevin Lacy — responds by trying to get them punished for “practicing engineering without a license.” Best bit: “Lacy says he filed the complaint because the report ‘appears to be engineering-level work’ by someone who is not licensed as a professional engineer.”

Stay in your place, proles, and don’t challenge your betters.

BURN, AMERICA BURN: It’s not just Frances Fox Piven rooting for riots and violence in America. Here’s former New York Times correspondent Chris Hedges on the Greek riots:

Here’s to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. They know what to do when they are told their pensions, benefits and jobs have to be cut to pay corporate banks, which screwed them in the first place. Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare—the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.

Plus this from Matt Welch:

Hedges’ recent apocalyptic tear (which has resonance for at least some libertarians, not to mention Pagans) includes urging on sabotage two months ago, and calling corporations “little Eichmanns” last week. And this is no fringe character here–Hedges continues to receive respectful hearings in the Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Vancouver Sun, et al, and just last week he was named a finalist for the L.A. Press Club’s Online Journalist of the Year. You will search in vain for any mention of Hedges by the scores of journalistic commenters who have been warning for more than a year now (inaccurately, in my opinion) about impending political violence, inciteful right-wing rhetoric, and borderline sedition.

These hacks don’t mind violence at all, so long as it’s perpetrated by the right people, against the right people. Meanwhile, Hedges in the past has been on the receiving end of some grassroots action I can approve. More on that here.

A TYRANNY OF THE HEAVILY ARMED?

America is no longer a democracy. It is now a tyranny of the heavily armed. That is Barbara Ehrenreich’s claim in today’s Los Angeles Times. Along with her colleague Frances Fox Piven, Ehrenreich is an Honorary Chair of the Democratic Socialists of America. In today’s Op-Ed, Ehrenreich does her best to pretty up Piven’s call for rioting in America, while painting conservatives as gun-mad assassins.

I sense that the left is now running scared. The Nation erred in allowing Piven to call openly in its name for rioting in America. They’re likely even more worried now about damage to the Nation’s reputation than they are determined to silence conservatives. But at this point, they probably figure the best defense is an aggressive offense. Ehrenreich’s wild Op-Ed is the result. Here you will read what the Nation crowd really thinks of America.

Meh. It’s not like the “bitter clinger” line is anything new. The trouble is, these folks liked the idea of a dictatorship of the proletariat, so long as it wasn’t actually, you know, proletarian. ‘Cause those proles are just icky.

Meanwhile, since Ehrenreich seems to be trying to gloss over what Piven was calling for, let’s remember what those Greek riots she liked so much involved:

At the same time, tens of thousands of protesters marched through Athens in the largest and most violent protests since the country’s budget crisis began last fall. Angry youths rampaged through the center of Athens, torching several businesses and vehicles and smashing shop windows. Protesters and police clashed in front of parliament and fought running street battles around the city.

Witnesses said hooded protesters smashed the front window of Marfin Bank in central Athens and hurled a Molotov cocktail inside. The three victims died from asphyxiation from smoke inhalation, the Athens coroner’s office said. Four others were seriously injured there, fire department officials said.

Hooded protesters. Molotov cocktails. Three dead by fire, four hospitalized. This is Piven’s idea of a proper “people’s movement.” This is the kind of violence she was advocating. This is what she’d like to see happening in America, to Americans. And this is what her allies are trying to minimize, or distract attention from, by making false accusations aimed at innocent parties. Just for the record.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Just a quick thought on your Piven updates. The phrase “Hooded protesters. Molotov cocktails” made me initially think “that is doubly despicable, Priven & Ehrenreich are also Klan supporters”?

They don’t have a problem with the Klan’s choice of means, anyway. And reader George Wilson emails: “The ‘tyranny’ is the fear that a molotov cocktail might not be a match for Desert Eagle .50 or an AK-47.” Yes, there’s nothing more tyrannical than someone who refuses to be intimidated.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Scot Echols writes: “So let me see if I’ve got this right. Is Piven pissed off that the Tea Party protests weren’t violent?” I’m pretty sure that’s not it, but that’s an understandable mistake . . .

MORE: Dodd Harris sends this helpful illustration:

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Save The Planet: Shop WalMart. “It’s likely that a world run by Walmart would be both richer and cleaner than a world run by Greenpeace.” Yeah, but so . . . proletarian.

JOANNE JACOBS: DUKE BLUE DEVILS CAN’T HAVE SEX:

The Duke Blue Devils had better remain chaste. As national champions, they are unable to have consensual sex with other students under Duke’s new “sexual misconduct” policy, warns the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). A person seen as “powerful” — such as a varsity athlete — may “create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion,” the policy states. For the “powerful,” it’s not just that “no” means no and silence means no. “Yes” means no too.

In addition, sex with someone who’s been drinking — not like that ever happens — is considered a form of rape because the policy considers any level of intoxication makes a student unable to consent to sex.

Duke just descends deeper into self-parody. Why would anyone send a kid to college there? From the comments here: “Duke is $53,000 per year. That’s a lot of money to pay to be treated like a prole on 1984.”

HEH: Politics: Proles Have Gotten Under the Egalitarians’ Skin. “Progressivism purports to protect the toiling and exploited masses from the amoral rapacity of big banks, big insurance, big tobacco, and whatnot. It must be exceedingly frustrating to have the toiling and exploited masses turn against the policies you have designed for their own good. . . . The Tea Party proles who reject the interference, reject also the premise that the Obama administration and its progressive supporters constitute a superior class: America’s would-be overseers really are no better than anyone else. For those who profess to care about equality, this must be terribly hard to hear.”

GEE, THANKS MR. OBAMA: Reader David Davila writes:

Wednesday-Friday, the Dow lost 552 points, or 5.2 percent.

Thanks Mr. President!

Your new tilting at windmills ploy,errr, bad mouthing Wall Street, just blew up my 401(k), not to mention my other investments. Again. Right after they were just about even with the pounding they took a year or so ago. What a stellar job this administration is doing. Riiiight…

About now, I’m thinking if I wanted something screwed up, I can trust the Chicago boys to come through.

If I want something done right, the high school kid down the street who is always looking for work around the neighborhood would be a far better choice.

He’s prompt, cleans up after himself, does whatever work we give him with a smile on his face and sincere gratefulness for what he gets paid.

In other words he’s NOT a f_ck up, and the money he gets is earned and gladly paid by me. I’d nominate him to take Obama’s job right about now, he definitely wouldn’t screw it up as badly as this lot of clowns has/is.

Sheesh….
DD

My sense is that a lot of people feel this way. You know, the proletarian vanguard.

MASSACHUSETTS IS THE MOB. And that’s not making folks at the NYT happy. They were hoping for a different batch of people with pitchforks, than they wound up with, apparently.

UPDATE: Charles Krauthammer: “You would think lefties could discern a proletarian vanguard when they see one.”

DANIEL HENNINGER: The Revolt of the Masses: Electorates are casting a global no-confidence vote in their leaderships. And with good reason. While the United States is currently suffering the worst political class in its history, things aren’t especially great elsewhere, either. . . .

And I love this: “It’s beginning to look as if the globe’s lumpen proletariat has decided they’ve had about enough of the lumpen bureaucratariat. It could be a revolution under way, though not the one predicted by the boys at the barricades.”

LAW AND THE PEOPLE: Reader Dennis Dezendorf writes:

I read your blog every day, as do thousands of other people. Thanks for your thought snd the effort you put into it.

I was reading your post about Law School 4.0 and was intrigued by the idea that there is discussion in some circles about the way that attorneys are trained. I think the discussion is long overdue.

I’ve been a cop for thirty years and have spent a tremendous amount of time in court. I’ve known great lawyers and lousy ones and I toyed at one time with the idea of going to law school. It was impossible for a number of reasons, but the main barriers to entry are:

Accessibility. I live in Louisiana and going to law school means moving to Baton Rouge or New Orleans. There aren’t any law schools in central or north Louisiana.

Cost. Law school is expensive, though not exorbitantly more expensive than graduate school. However, when I was researcing law schools (and th is may have changed in the past decade), law school required the student to be unemployed for at least the first year. Families require sustenance and going to law school full-time demands sacrifies from the family that might not be overcome for a long time.

I went to graduate school at nights. My family was young and I was able to juggle a fairly rigorous academic load while taking care of my obligations. My family was aware that Daddy was studying, but they didn’t suffer. Any reasonably intelligent person can enroll in graduate programs in business, the clergy, education, or any number of other disciplines and attain their education on a night-school basis.

Of course, if the mission of a law school is to maintain the income and status of the faculty, you need do nothing.

Thanks again for all your writings.

Well, as the pressure mounts to end night law programs, it sounds like the public-service ideal is fading. In fact, there’s a good argument that changes in the educational system in general tend to favor the children of those who are already high up on the occupational ladder. This somehow made me think of Ross Douthat’s column on Race, Class, Gender, and Sarah Palin:

If Palin were exactly what her critics believe she is — the distillation of every right-wing pathology, from anti-intellectualism to apocalyptic Christianity — then she wouldn’t be a terribly interesting figure. But this caricature has always missed the point of the Alaska governor’s appeal — one that extends well outside the Republican Party’s shrinking base.

In a recent Pew poll, 44 percent of Americans regarded Palin unfavorably. But slightly more had a favorable impression of her. That number included 46 percent of independents, and 48 percent of Americans without a college education.

That last statistic is a crucial one. Palin’s popularity has as much to do with class as it does with ideology. In this sense, she really is the perfect foil for Barack Obama. Our president represents the meritocratic ideal — that anyone, from any background, can grow up to attend Columbia and Harvard Law School and become a great American success story. But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard. . . .

Here are lessons of the Sarah Palin experience, for any aspiring politician who shares her background and her sex. Your children will go through the tabloid wringer. Your religion will be mocked and misrepresented. Your political record will be distorted, to better parody your family and your faith. (And no, gentle reader, Palin did not insist on abstinence-only sex education, slash funds for special-needs children or inject creationism into public schools.)

Male commentators will attack you for parading your children. Female commentators will attack you for not staying home with them. You’ll be sneered at for how you talk and how many colleges you attended. You’ll endure gibes about your “slutty” looks and your “white trash concupiscence,” while a prominent female academic declares that your “greatest hypocrisy” is the “pretense” that you’re a woman. And eight months after the election, the professionals who pressed you into the service of a gimmicky, dreary, idea-free campaign will still be blaming you for their defeat.

All of this had something to do with ordinary partisan politics. But it had everything to do with Palin’s gender and her social class.

Sarah Palin is beloved by millions because her rise suggested, however temporarily, that the old American aphorism about how anyone can grow up to be president might actually be true.

But her unhappy sojourn on the national stage has had a different moral: Don’t even think about it.

What Joel Kotkin calls “the Gentry Faction” has taken over the Democrats completely. Wherever they dominate, you see a lot of talk about equality — and a lot of effort at maintaining inequality and keeping the proles in their place. There are plenty of Gentry in the Republican party, too. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see a populist backlash arise, on either the left, or the right, or both, or somewhere in between.

MORE REPORTING ON THE NEW YORK CITY TEA PARTY, and be sure to read this critique, too. To succeed, the Tea Party movement needs to remain true to the grassroots, and move beyond rallies to concrete — and locally-focused — political and electoral action. Some, of course, are already doing that.

UPDATE: Reader Sam Hamman writes: “Is there a website that shows where all the tea parties will be held? Specifically AZ and CA.” Try TeaPartyPatriots.org. Use the “Find An Event” button at the upper right. Also, check these news stories.

ROGER KIMBALL: A spoke in the news cycle: slow down and join a freedom brigade near you. “Really what is needed is not a 12-step support group for damaged souls but a network of back-stiffening resource groups equipped to sound the alarm over the government’s astonishing encroachments upon prosperity of the United States and the freedoms of its citizens.”

Plus, TigerHawk on the mistaken but understandable desire to keep your head down. On this day of all days, perhaps people need to start showing a bit more backbone.

UPDATE: Protesting “corrupt media” at MSNBC headquarters. Why not send busloads of protesters to executives’ homes? It’s a tactic that’s ACORN-approved! But will it get the same boffo press coverage? Don’t count on it!

More here.

MORE ON financial problems for Big Media. Add to that this story on the Associated Press’s problems. Key bit: “But in a world, and a Web, full of analysis, opinion and ‘accountability journalism,’ what’s missing is a neutral referee. Which is a bit like living in a world with a North Pole and a South Pole but no equator. If there’s no one to set the standard, how will we know when we’ve crossed the line?” Neutral hard-news reporting is the one thing the AP can do better than anyone else if it tries. So why isn’t it trying harder?

UPDATE: Reader Jim Warren writes: “Duh.The AP can’t do unbiased because they’re not. The Long March of the Left through the institutions continues apace, more often than not at the expense of the institutions themselves. The AP may have to be sacrificed for the greater good, and what of it? A small price to pay for educating the proles…”

If I owned stock in some of these media companies I’d be making a stink at the shareholders’ meeting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Stanton emails that it’s not “yellow journalism,” but “blue journalism:”

Shouldn’t this sort of partisan hackery have a name? Does it? Yellow journalism had a name and that helped identify it and eventually get rid of it. I came up with the term but others may have either seeded my thought unconsciously or come up with it first. I did a quick google of ‘blue journalism’ and got hits but it didn’t turn up much. I didn’t see any that seemed to indicate its use in this context. I like the term and would like your opinion of it.

The pendulum will eventually swing back I hope. The NYT actually made its name in the swing back from yellow. Some struggling organization will figure it out and ride the swing back.

Let’s hope. And reader Todd Hester writes:

Glenn, maybe that’s the next (and best) strategy: Buy up stock in these companies and make a stink at shareholders’ meetings. Heck, we could buy low, and–if we do our job well–end up selling high. Of
course, the strategy of buying stock is predicated on the hope that we’re not taxed into poverty first. . .

Activism that makes a buck! Hey, it works for ACORN . . . .

IN THE MAIL: Sheldon S. Wolin’s Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.

Wouldn’t “inverted totalitarianism” be sort of like the “dictatorship of the proletariat?” Apparently not.

POL POT’S STRETCH LIMO for sale on eBay.

Ever notice how the champions of the proletariat always have stretch limos?

A.C. KLEINHEIDER DEFENDS AL GORE against charges of greenhouse hypocrisy:

Al Gore is not the average American. He comes from power and money and he has achieved power and money in his own right.

Al Gore lives a life different from most folks. I’m not one to defend elitism, not as a matter of practice, but some elitism is inevitable. There must be a leadership class. There always has been and there always will be. Even societies organized around the principle of the equality and preeminence of the proletariat have had an elite class. It is the natural order of things. The key for a society is to create a responsible, responsive and fluid elite.

Could Al Gore do more to be “Green” in his personal life? No doubt. I’m sure we all could. Regardless of your position on global warming, none of the steps greens suggest you take in your personal life are gonna hurt anything. It may be unnecessary but not detrimental.

However, his life and most of ours are not coordinate — nor need they be.

Moralists are especially vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy — ask any backsliding fundamentalist preacher. If Gore were less moralistic in his approach — as he gains weight, he’s even starting to look a bit like a younger Jerry Falwell — the charges of hypocrisy would have less bite. But is this the kind of defense he wants?

UPDATE: More on this story from ABC News. And some related thoughts from Gerard van der Leun.

WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE! Mickey Kaus comments on the Democrats’ plan to repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax for people in the $100-500K income range:

Washington Monthly’s Charles Peters mocks the “new proletariat” of Americans in the “$100,000-$500,000 income range,” especially their agitation against the Alternative Minimum Tax. … My impression is the main complaint against the AMT is not the extra tax it extracts but the extra paperwork hassle it imposes on those who essentially have to calculate their tax two times, using different sets of rules (or, almost as annoying, pay an accountant to do it for them) … I would think the anti-bureaucratic Wash. Monthly would join in the fraternal struggle against unnecessary government-imposed complications–realizing that Washington could probably collect a lot more tax money, indeed more money from the complaining top 20%, and if only it did so with less hassle.

The hassle is an issue. So is the money. And the Dems have a lot of key constituents in those brackets. Kaus has some interesting observations on Chuck Hagel’s positioning, too.

NORAH VINCENT’S SELF MADE MAN gets a very positive review in The New York Times book review today. Excerpt:

That bowling league, for example. Norah-as-Ned commits to it for eight months, becoming the weak link on a four-man team of working-class white men. (Vincent has changed the names of the characters and obscured the locations to protect the identities of her subjects.) The resultant chapter is as tender and unpatronizing a portrait of America’s “white trash” underclass as I’ve ever read. “They took people at face value,” writes Vincent of Ned’s teammates, a plumber, an appliance repairman and a construction worker. “If you did your job or held up your end, and treated them with the passing respect they accorded you, you were all right.” Neither dumb lugs nor proletarian saints, Ned’s bowling buddies are wont to make homophobic cracks and pay an occasional visit to a strip club, but they surprise Vincent with their lack of rage and racism, their unflagging efforts to improve Ned’s atrocious bowling technique and “the absolute reverence with which they spoke about their wives,” one of whom is wasting away from cancer.

Read the whole thing. I told you it was going to be big!

UPDATE: In short order, numerous readers sent variations on this comment, from reader Byron Matthews:

“a plumber, an appliance repairman and a construction worker”

Since when do those occupations describe the “white-trash underclass”?

That could only get by a NYT editor, I’m afraid.

To be fair to the Times Book Review, it’s in quotes (indicating that it’s what the writer thinks others might think) — and the passage explodes a view that is, I suspect, overrepresented among NYT readers. That’s a good thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s more on the term “white trash,” from Ed Driscoll.

MORE: Read this insightful observation from Shannon Love, too.

Drudge reports that the Al Qaeda videotape obtained by ABC News was sent to the FBI and the CIA and has since been authenticated. But ABC cut the last fifteen minutes of the tape, the portion where Americans are threatened with greater attacks if Bush and Cheney are re-elected, according to Drudge’s unnamed top government source.

ABC thinks it knows what the CIA ought to see, but they’re reportedly still scratching their heads about what they should say to us proles.

One ABC source, who demanded anonymity, said Thursday morning, the network was struggling to find a correct journalistic “balance” before airing any story on the video.

Here’s some advice for you guys. Just air the damn tape without any edits or comments. You report. We’ll decide.

A MADISON SIDEWALK STENCIL. Found on Bascom Hill, near the Law School:

UPDATE: This emailer has definitely thought more deeply about the meaning of the stencil than I did:

Okay, maybe it’s me: I’m middle-aged and doubtless ossified (or “dirigiste” if I grok Glenn’s delightful turn of phrase in his latest Guardian column), after all. But I really don’t get it. Or I get it, but in more than one way. Or that I don’t get why someone would go to the trouble to produce sucky minimalist agitprop which provides no blindingly obvious and instant recognition, and thus defeats the whole raison of StencilPolitik (at least for the dirigiste among us).

So, is capitalism the gun-guy, and “we” are the victim? Or is it that there is no you-we, and the idea is capitalism means the robbery of nameless, faceless innocents by nameless, faceless guilties? Or that “we”, as the proletarian-intellectual solidarity movement of the PR of Madison, have the Gun Of The Dialectic pointed at the blank, bourgeois head of capitalism? Or that, a la “Fight Club”, fringe Young Republicans are carrying out a secret recruiting drive under the very noses of Badger mainstream by posting cryptic, mocking communiqués known but to those whom they seek? ( “First rule of Madison Capitalist Pig Club; nobody talks about Madison Capitalist Pig Club .”) Please, reveal all.

Man, I so can’t reveal all I didn’t even realize when I posted this how less-than-all I understood about this inscrutable stencil. I think I’m just charmed by inscrutability (like that “Plants Can’t Vote” sign, which an emailer is bringing me down by saying it’s crushingly obviously about medical marijuana). But I can reveal this: I absolutely love the movie “Fight Club.” And wasn’t 1999 a great movie year? I had so much hope then about how cool movies were, and what happened?

DANIEL DREZNER ON LARRY SUMMERS — He says I was wrong to say that Summer’s biggest prolem is ideology. He says the real issue is power, which is probably true (but read the comments to his post for suggestions that the two overlap a lot, which I think is also true). He also says:

Those dumb enough not to recognize Summers’ smarts are headed for a great fall. The next few years are going to be fun for those who write about Harvard.

Read Drezner’s whole post, which is very interesting.

MATT WELCH WRITES:

When O.J. Simpson was ruled not guilty of murdering his wife, the United States discovered overnight the chasm of difference in perception between blacks (who found the verdict reasonable) and whites (who found it insane).

Something similar is going on with the fabrication scandals that have rocked The New York Times this month. Elite reporters and editors are reacting to the Jayson Blair and Rick Bragg revelations with sorrow and anxiety, while the rest of us proles revel in the spectacle of a haughty institution being humbled and mocked. . . .

Almost every newspaper that views the Times as a role model, on the other hand, is a local monopoly in a less liberal city. Chances are, it will equate success with such Timesian yardsticks as Pulitzer prizes, and (in the immortal words of Rick Bragg) the ability “to go get the dateline.”

All the more reason why the Times’ horrible month will be good for journalism — if it causes papers to reconsider their newsroom values and journalistic role models, old bad habits may receive a fresh round of scrutiny.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Orrin Judd writes:

So as the press now becomes Ouroboros, the beast that feeds on itself, you’ll pardon us if we crack open a Pabst, open a bag of Cheez-Waffles, and enjoy the spectacle. We feel like Christians getting to watch the Romans be fed to the lions.

Well, Pabst is the hip beer, nowadays.

ANDREW SULLIVAN WONDERS why some people find American power so upsetting. I’ve wondered this myself. Here’s my theory.

During the Cold War there was a sort of yin/yang dichotomy. You were afraid of the Soviets, and with good reason. But — with their absurd formulaic prattle about the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, their campy socialist-realism art, their love affair with tractors, etc., plus the fact, obvious to all but the most usefully idiotic, that they were dirt-poor outside the military sphere — you couldn’t really feel inferior to them.

The United States, on the other hand, was rich, culturally ascendant, and dynamic. But while you could feel inferior to the United States, you weren’t really afraid of it.

Now some people who aren’t that fond of American values confront a country that is both culturally ascendant and militarily unmatched — and mad. Naturally, that’s upsetting to them. But stating the problem this way would focus on their own inadequacies. Easier just to compare Bush to Hitler.

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus thinks I’m wrong about this.

BO COWGILL scooped everyone with his report (with pictures yet) of the protests at Stanford regarding Condi Rice’s commencement speech. Now Howard Mortman dissects the rather lame coverage in the Palo Alto Daily News, which makes up for being later than Cowgill’s by not being as good. And looking at Bo’s photos of the protests, I’d say the newspaper’s estimate of a “more than a dozen protesters” is rather generous, but Bo’s own report says that there were maybe three dozen, so take your pick. Maybe some of them just didn’t want to be photographed.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Ivers writes:

Let’s see, a generous estimate of 36 (“three dozen”) divided by 4600 graduates means 0.78% of grads demonstrated. Wow!! What a backlash. Looks like the Bush popularity is sliding right down the crapper.

No one is impressed by your bourgeoise math, Mr. Ivers. It has long been used to distract the proletariat from its true interests.