Count me as one who was not suprised at the size of Rand Paul’s victory in the CPAC straw poll. I’m only surprised it wasn’t bigger — even though he nearly tripled the votes of his nearest rival Ted Cruz.
I smoked pot in Jerry Brown’s house.
I know you’re thinking that’s just a showoff lede (and it is), but it happens to be true.
It was back in the 1970s when Jerry had a place in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon. I went to a party there that was pretty wild and virtually everyone was smoking reefer, myself included. We all did in those days, especially we wannabe screenwriters.
Jerry was the California secretary of State at the time, which gave all the cannabis toking an extra je ne sais quoi. As I recall, Jerry wasn’t even there for most of the event, though I could be mistaken. I was a little ripped.
But I did come to know Jerry very slightly over the years. Believe it or not, we had the same girlfriend (not at the same time, but serially — and not Linda Ronstadt). So I did get to hear a lot about him.
When I had the blind luck to be nominated for an Academy Award, he even ended up sitting at the same table as I did for the Governors Ball in the company of yet another date of his who had acted in the movie I co-wrote — Anjelica Huston.
Okay, I’m engaging in disgusting name-dropping, but again it’s true. Furthermore, I always found Jerry an interesting character, much more intelligent than the run of politicians, but frustrating in that his intelligence often brought him to the wrong… often idiotic… conclusions.
But lately Jerry — who is odds-on favorite to be California governor yet again — seems to have grown up a smidge, not in the sense of the famous Churchill quote that would have already made him a conservative at 40, but at least on the commonsense level.
He’s been trying to balance the budget and, surprisingly, has taken a stand against legalized marijuana — and for a reason this longtime pot user (every day for a period of ten years) finds at least partly justifiable. Quoth the once Governor Moonbeam:
“The world’s pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, [then] more than some of the potheads might be able to put together,” Brown buzzed Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
He added: “The problem with anything, a certain amount is OK. But there is a tendency to go to extremes. And all of a sudden, if there’s advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?”
I hate to say so because I’ll lose my libertarian ID card and be banned forever from the pages of Reason magazine, but the brother is correct. Take it from me because I have been one: Potheads are blockheads. You can choose to be one if you wish, but you’re not doing you, or anybody close to you, any favors.
Being an early frontrunner for a presidential nomination is not always a good thing and Sen. Rand Paul acknowledged as much the other night on Greta Van Susteren’s show. He must have channeled his inner Nostradamus because not more than a day later a man named Putin made his move on Ukraine. He could end up Paul’s worst nightmare.
Now, many of us have been very attracted to Paul. His libertarian message seems, and indeed is, tailor-made for this era when the monumentally incompetent Barack Obama has exposed the farcical nature of big government almost as no one before him. Obamacare is a gift from God to the libertarian movement. It helped me — and I admit I was already primed — to take another step in that direction. That government is best, as the man said, that governs least.
And yet, if there is one caveat regarding libertarianism, it is that it must end at the water’s edge. The idea that the likes of Ayatollah Khamenei or his bearded “moderate” cohort Rohani, Dr. Ayman al-Zawhiri, Bashar al-Assad, Hassan Nasrallah, North Korea’s Kim Jung-un, China’s Xi Jiping or, yes, Vladimir Putin give a rat’s patootie whether the USA is libertarian, a “liberal” welfare state, or something in between is so absurd it doesn’t merit a microsecond of serious discussion. They only care how quickly they can destroy us or, at the very least, render us impotent and take over as much of the world as they possibly can, rendering America “a pitiful, helpless giant,” as we used to say in the sixties.
Bad guys are bad guys — and that’s about it.
With Vladimir Putin giving Barack Obama the back of his gloved hand in the Crimea, it’s easy to forget what the two leaders have in common. Neither of them likes democracy very much.
In Putin’s case that couldn’t be more obvious, but Obama has given more than his share of signals to that effect in recent days, informing a complaisant Congress during the State of the Union that he was going to override them and take the law into his own hands by executive fiat if they didn’t go along with his policies. His number one consigliere, Valerie Jarrett, repeated essentially the same thing during a recent interview on The O’Reilly Factor.
Unfortunately, that’s about it in the similarity department (except they both seem to like sports). In two other major categories, the dissimilarities are striking. Putin is one tough dude and a patriot for his country. Obama is neither of these. In evidence I offer one five-letter word: Syria. I could offer a lot more, but I don’t want to bore you.
The point is, as Putin threatens Ukraine and who knows what else, China moves on the Japanese islands, the Iranian mullahs jaw on while moving ever closer to nuclear capability, the already nuclear North Koreans improve their ballistics while starving their people, Venezuela approaches civil war, al-Qaeda and its myriad cousins metastasize across North Africa, the Levant, and beyond, the West has at its helm someone who is not only a documented liar (“if you like your plan,” etc., etc.) but who is also essentially a blowhard. Even worse, and ultimately even more dangerous to our health and/or survival, our president is a monumentally poor judge of character. He is clueless.
It’s Oscar time again and, since I’m one of the half-dozen or so Academy voters to the right of Trotsky (okay, a little exaggeration there, but not much), I am often called upon to write something about it (and give my predictions) for the likes of PJM, National Review or City Journal.
But every time I do, especially here, I get a slew of comments, sometimes dozens, reading to the effect: “I hate Hollywood. I haven’t seen one of their putrid biased movies since a. The Marx Brothers’ Coconuts, b. The Best Years of Our Lives or c. when Rock Hudson and Doris Day were still in the closet.”
Well, good for you, I say. We should all do what we want with our spare time and Lord knows there are better things to do with it than watch banal liberal propaganda. Have a good time playing Chinese checkers or reading Burke — whatever, as they say, floats your boat.
But as you run your personal boycott of Hollywood, remember this. Almost everyone else you know — be it family, friends, business associates and, most especially, your children — is not. They are consuming Hollywood entertainment in mammoth gulps. And politics, as the late Andrew Breitbart said repeatedly (and he was far from the only one), is downstream of culture.
You give up Hollywood and you give up the country. Game over. And as we all know, it’s almost over already. Want that? Well, if you do, you can skip the rest of this article.
So… for those of you that are left… now more than ever is the time for conservatives and libertarians to take back at least some of the entertainment industry. Someone recently told me that Hollywood is like one of those football blowouts with a score of 90 for the liberals and 10 for the conservatives. We have to try to make it at least 70-30 (still a blowout, but there’s a glimmer of hope).
We are not in the situation of the Ukraine, however that turns out, but the events in that Eastern European country should remind us all of the sad condition of our nation, how much we now need an American Spring in the USA.
Not a Spring like the Arab Spring, of course, which was and is a nightmare beyond anyone’s wishes, but something more like the original Prague Spring that remade the Czech Republic into the vibrant country and society it is today.
The Obama administration has been the culmination of the advancement of state intrusion into our lives that began roughly a hundred years ago and has reached such a point that the originality and the intentions of our country are barely recognizable. The results of this have been disastrous both economically and socially, most of all in terms of the personal freedom and liberty of our citizens. We have gone backwards in many ways, not the least of which is that race relations have deteriorated during the administration of the first African-American president, largely due to state meddling. We are divided as we have never been since the Civil War, and for really no good reason.
The people aren’t the problem. It’s the state.
And in a still-growing country of over 300 million the state gets bigger and bigger and bigger just by entropy, until we are all engulfed.
We need some government, obviously, but at this point in American history, in order to save our nation, we need to get the state as much as possible out of our lives, to cut its functions with a meat cleaver to release our better impulses, to have the renewal of Spring. Deep down even some modern liberals realize this. (Bill Clinton famously said the era of big government is over before running the other way as if in fear of his own honesty.)
In this coming crucial year, those of us who feel the overweening state is the problem must reach out our hands to our fellow citizens as never before. My sense is that many of them are ready to hear our message. (The fiasco of Obamacare has been a gift in that regard.) And if we don’t reach out our hands, there will be no American Spring. Things will only get worse. (The horrific attempt of the FCC to monitor newsrooms is a harbinger of totalitarian things to come.)
Maybe it’s a rewrite of Lord Acton’s famous quote as “Pundit power tends to corrupt and absolute pundit power corrupts absolutely,” but whatever the explanation, something has happened to Bill O’Reilly. Bill has always been, shall we say, a tad narcissistic with his palaver about “looking after you” and the “no spin zone,” not to mention endlessly self-referential email praising or damning his latest co-written book or his avuncular vocabulary hints, almost always illustrated as “Don’t be a [fill in the blank] when writing to the Factor,” but we excused him. He was, after all, Bill O’Reilly, the most popular of the popular and a man of many gifts. But of late he appears to have been running off the rails.
He inflated his own interview with Barack Obama, which scarcely broke any new ground, into the confrontation of the century and continues to auction off his scrawled notes for the event as if they were the Gettysburg Address. But that’s the least of it. Always testy, he has started to become genuinely abusive of his guests.
On Tuesday night, when discussing the latest absurdity from Oliver Stone, he began to harass Monica Crowley, seemingly not comprehending what she was saying. That was compounded minutes later when he genuinely didn’t understand what John Stossel was saying and picked a fight with the libertarian commentator over nothing. O’Reilly didn’t even appear to get the message of Orwell’s Animal Farm. I have to assume he read it, but who knows? Both Stossel and Crowley justifiably looked perplexed but, to their credit, rolled with the punches.
You could only laugh when John Kerry doubled-down on “climate change” in a speech in Indonesia over the weekend, calling global warming as great a threat to humanity as terrorism and WMDs. Laugh bleakly, that is.
Why had our secretary of State, whom even Wikipedia describes as having been a mediocre student and who has no discernible background in science and technology (other than being able to windsurf), settled on “climate change” as his cause célèbre of the moment?
Well, things are probably not going so well on the Iran nuclear deal or on the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, if current reports are anywhere near correct. (Ditto on the economy and healthcare fronts — not his purview, but still…). So what’s a fellow to do?
The great thing about “climate change” armageddon talk is that no one can prove you wrong, unless you’re like Al Gore and start to make short run predictions. But no one’s likely to make that mistake again.
No, “climate change” makes, or should make, a perfect distraction. And right now liberalism needs a distraction, preferably one that gets people and nations to cough up money.
Unfortunately (or really fortunately), the money-collecting part won’t be so easy. Even a few liberal audiences, religious fanatics though they may be, are beginning to smell a rat, not that you will hear too many say it out loud. That would be an admission that could start some serious and dangerous unraveling.
The Republicans are supposed to have a “War on Women” that’s about as real as the Loch Ness monster, but the Democrats are developing a war that is considerably more authentic and quite a bit more sinister — a “War on Work.” From Reuters:
Democrats sought to turn the latest controversy over Obamacare and the economy into a positive political message on Sunday by casting an expected decline in American work hours as a boon to worker freedom and family values.
In a new partisan tussle over election messaging that is likely to color this year’s congressional mid-term campaign, Democratic lawmakers said a predicted drop in work hours brought about by Obamacare would mean more family time for mothers, more study opportunities for college students and less job stress for older workers.
“The single mom, who’s raising three kids (and) has to keep a job because of healthcare, can now spend some time raising those kids. That’s a family value,” Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said on NBC’s Sunday program, “Meet the Press.”
He was responding to a fiscal report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Tuesday that said President Barack Obama’s healthcare law would bring about a drop in work hours equal to the loss of 2.5 million full-time workers over the next decade.
Schumer’s blather is obviously meant to distract from the CBO’s report, rather than “respond” to it, as the Reuters loyalists would have it, but never mind. Something more disturbing, indeed quite literally depressing, is at play here. If we are moving toward a society in which people perforce work less, whether to get discount healthcare or any healthcare or some other governmentally imposed reason, we are moving toward a depressed society, a nation of the sad.
You don’t have to be a Freudian to see the truth in the father of psychoanalysis’ oft-quoted pronouncement that “love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness,” really the keys to our daily sanity. If you undermine our ability to work, to be gainfully and fully employed, you undermine our self-respect, virtually no matter what our occupation. When our ability to contribute to society and to the welfare of our families is curtailed, we become depressed, sometimes unable to function or even be creative with that vaunted free time. The vast majority of us anyway. People on the dole are almost always a depressed lot, sometimes terminally.
I turned on my office TV a few minutes ago, intending to flip over to the Olympics, when the Huckabee show came up. I was startled by the relatively young looking black guy singing. Could that actually be Chubby Checker? He had to be older than that. He’s 72, according to Wikipedia. But he sure didn’t look it and he was singing his anthem — “The Twist.”
Suddenly a white woman — she could have been in her sixties or seventies herself — got up out of the studio audience and starting dancing with him. As the audience applauded the dancers, tears started to pour out of my eyes.
This doesn’t happen often, folks. I’m not all that sentimental. But it didn’t take me long to figure out why the tears fell. Chubby Checker recorded “The Twist” in 1960, when he was 18 years old. I was 15 0r 16 at the time, depending on the time of year. Six years later I was in Chubby’s native South Carolina in the civil rights movement.
I don’t know who that white woman dancing with Chubby on the Huckabee show was, whether she was in the civil rights movement too, but I sincerely doubt she was any kind of racist. White people loved to dance to Chubby back then — and eventually with Chubby. Soon enough white people were dancing with black people and Latino people and Asian people. I know I was — and most of my friends were too. I had a Puerto Rican girlfriend, a Chinese-American girlfriend and a Ghanaian girlfriend. (Okay, I had a lot of girlfriends.) Nobody cared. And nobody should.
Yet racism is still supposed to stalk the land.
Does it really? Well, maybe a little. There are racially biased idiots everywhere from here to Chechnya. But as one who has visited sixty or so countries in a lucky life, I don’t know any place less racist than the US of A at this moment. (If you speak French, try pretending you don’t and listen in on one of their dinner table conversations.)
The only way finally to end racism, to stomp its last excrescences, when it has become illegal and a societal pariah, as it has here, is to ignore it and declare it over. Nothing else will work. You can’t hang on to it, because hanging on to it preserves it.