Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why Be Scandalized When Politicians Act Like Voters?

Everyone in Britain is agreed that their MPs are outrageous, claiming for expenses on all kinds of questionable things, like moats and duck islands.

But let's be fair. All they are doing is signing up for benefits, just like everyone else, from welfare recipients to corporate welfare recipients. Everyone thinks they should get stuff for free from the government. So why be surprised if the legislature acts just like the people?

Anyway, this is nothing remarkable. Most all insurgencies, formed to protest the injustices of the present, eventually slip into comfortable incumbency, rewarding their loyal servitors with patronage and with loot, just like the ancien regime.

Modern conservatism is built upon another idea. Conservatives believe that you don't need to get your daily bread by force, by conquering the powerful, taking away the surplus they have squirreled away and giving it to your followers. Conservatives believe that the way to thrive is to become useful to other people and to offer your services to them. It believes in the unlikely notion that you can prosper by serving other people better than by dominating them.

The astonishing thing is that anyone, let alone conservatives, believes such a ridiculous notion. Of course you have to fight. Of course you have to protect yourself by attaching yourself to a powerful patron. What other way is there?

Yet people do believe this impossible notion. We believe it because it works. The story of the rise of the bourgeoisie in the last 500 years is the story of the middle class and its culture of trust and service.

In the last 150 years the middle-class culture has ben sorely tried by a new class, the education progressive class. This new class does not believe in trust. It does not believe in service. And it does not believe in limited government.

Conservatives say that if you want to understand the last century then the best way to understand it is as a succession of disasters brought on by the progressive educated class. Boom and bust? The progressive educated class developed the notion that they and their experts could manipulate the business cycle and smooth it out. Health care? The progressive educated class believed that only centralized compulsion could deliver decent health care to the workers and their families. Education? The progressive educated class decided that only a universal compulsory system could deliver literacy and competence to the masses. And so on.

Actually, this system has worked, in its way. It has delivered power and influence to the progressive educated class. All the great heads of government expenditure are programs devised, advocated, and administered by the progressive educated class.

The great mission for conservatives in the coming generation is to bear witness to the monstrous suffering and injustice brought about by the pride and the follies of the progressive educated class.

Conservatives maintain that society would do much better if the progressive educated class would just butt out.

As we struggle out of the Crash of 2008, caused by multiple political interventions to manipulate the business cycle, it is time to stop the conceit of politicians and their experts that they know better than businessmen and financiers how to run the economy.

As we contemplate another huge government intervention in the health care system, it is time to stop the conceit of politicians and activists that they can do a better job of running the health care system that patients and their doctors and nurses.

As we contemplate a century and a half of educational folly, it is time to stop the conceit of politicians and activists that they can do a better job of running the education system than teachers, parents, and students.

When we have done that, then we conservatives can go out into the good night. For our job will be done, and the world will move on.

But until then there is work to be done.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Liberals and Empathy

We know conservatives are outraged by the question of Empathy vs. Justice. But what about liberals? After all, it was Candidate Obama who brought "empathy" onto the national radar when he talked about the importance of empathy in a Supreme Court Justice.

Feminist Wendy Kaminer wrestles with the question over at The Atlantic.

Sonia Sotomayor is either an injudicious advocate of identity politics or candidly realistic about the possibility of entirely objective decision-making.

You are not really supposed to admit that you have biases. But then we all have them.

Admitting such a bias goes against the life-work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you see.

In the early 1970s, as founding director of the ACLU Women's Rights Project, Ginsburg led a groundbreaking battle against discriminatory laws that meted out rights or entitlements on the basis of sex and assumptions about characterological, temperamental, and intellectual differences between men and women.

But, as we conservatives have complained, the problem that feminists immediately ran into is that women really are different and really do have special needs in law. So they smuggled discrimination back into the law through the back door. Only now, of course, the new discriminations would have a liberal secular cast rather than the cultural assumptions of a the white patriarchal culture that produced Anglo-Saxon law.

But Kaminer sees a problem in the excitement of the sisterhood over a second woman on the court.

Does the chauvinistic reaction to Sotomayor's nomination represent a repudiation of Ginsburg's fight for equality?

But it's ok. She notes that even Ginsburg has often railed against the insensitivity of the males on the court to feminine sensibilities.

[It took a] Ginsburg to decry the evident inability of her male colleagues to recognize the shame a junior high school girl feels when strip-searched by school administrators who suspect her of hiding advil in her underwear.

The problem is, though, that conservatives don't trust liberals when it comes to "empathy," the special shame that teenage girls may have over strip searching. In our hearts we agree with Ann Coulter when she says:

But all liberals only have empathy for the exact same victims -- always the ones that are represented by powerful liberal interest groups. As Joe Sobran says, it takes a lot of clout to be a victim.

And that means, writes Coulter, that for liberals, "'Empathy'... is nothing but raw political power."

That's because the further you travel from the notion of blindfolded Justice balancing the scales with no thumbs in sight, the closer you inevitably come to simple patronage politics and raw power. Because that's the natural political instinct: to take care of your own.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Empathy and Justice

President Obama spent paragraphs in his introduction of appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor telling the Teleprompter how judges should follow the law and not their personal preferences. David Limbaugh was not impressed.

True to form, President Barack Obama... said he was doing one thing while doing the exact opposite. He articulated his criteria for the optimal nominee yet chose someone who falls squarely outside those criteria -- as best we can tell.

That's because, in her speeches and her actions as a judge, Sonia Sotomayor has demonstrated pretty clearly that she belongs to the "empathy" school of jurisprudence. Never mind the law, vote your heart.

Of course, the law has always recognized, in the words of a famous fictional woman lawyer, that the "pound of flesh" in a contract must always be leavened with the quality of mercy. That's because if you bite too hard on the letter of the contract, it will end up biting you back.

But we know what liberals mean by "empathy." They mean that they will put a thumb on the scales of justice to make sure that the result is correct. Sonia Sotomayor understands what it means. That's what the mandatory quote about a "wise Latina woman" is all about. It's OK to upend centuries of white male jurisprudence if it helps the poor and the weak in their struggle with an oppressive world.

If that were all, it wouldn't be so bad. But empathy leads quickly to injustice, as the New Haven firefighters case so conveniently demonstrates. After all, who deserves empathy there? The black firefighters that didn't come close in the promotion exam, or the dyslexic Italian American who studied night and day to pass the exam? Does race trump disability? No doubt the lawyers that prepared the case for the firefighters knew exactly what they were doing in setting up two liberal enthusiasms to fight each other.

I keep coming back to the same point. The progressive educated class has dominated the culture and the public square for the last century. In or out of office they have had the power to enforce their view of government and society upon America. After a while, however idealistic the revolution that brought it to power, a new elite becomes just another ruling class. It is not that they are bad people, although there are always bad applies in the barrel. It is just that an established ruling class becomes insensitive and unable to understand the injustices that they inflict upon the people they rule.

In a way, our liberal masters understand this. That is why President Obama is always saying one thing and doing another. As Rush Limbaugh puts it: liberals can't admit who they are. On this view the Obama campaign and presidency thus far have been masterpieces of misdirection. Yes, he's all for Hope and Change, but his policies mean more of the same Big Government.

In the Wall Street Journal today Bret Stephens invokes the South Park "Gnomes" to explain this. These gnomes are running around South Park episode in 1998 collecting underpants.

What's the big idea? The gnomes explain: "Phase One: Collect underpants. "Phase Two: ? "Phase Three: Profit."

That seems to be the way that the Obama administration works. The all important Phase Two always gets elided. How do we get to actually close Gitmo while keeping those high-value terrorists in custody? How do we lower costs in health care while providing universal coverage. And how do you do "empathy" on the Supreme Court without sacrificing justice?

Go ahead, Mr. President. This is your moment. What is your plan? You do have a plan, don't you?

The trouble is that President Obama really does have a plan. It is bigger government. It is more of the cruel, corrupt, unjust, wasteful, and deluded liberal administrative state.

Understandably, he can't tell us that because if he did, the American people would upchuck him immediately.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sotomayor: A Liberal Bully?

This morning President Obama nominated appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to a seat on the United States Supreme Court. She is, according to first reports, about as liberal as you can be and still get confirmed by the Senate.

So this is what conservatives warned about. Elect Obama and you'll get a radical left-winger on the Court.

Of course, the only thing worse is to nominate a moderate and get a solid liberal vote on the court--someone like retiring Justice Souter.

Actually, I'm encouraged. Here's a look at Sotomayor from New Republic's Jeffrey Rosen.

The most consistent concern was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was "not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench," as one former Second Circuit clerk for another judge put it...

Her opinions, although competent, are viewed by former prosecutors as not especially clean or tight, and sometimes miss the forest for the trees.

We should take this kind of talk with a grain of salt. There's a tendency for highly educated law clerks to value intellectual gifts over more mundane gifts of energy and persistence. Intellectual gifts have their place. But so do other gifts.

Still, if you asked me what I would want in a liberal Obama appointee it would be that they didn't quite get it. That they didn't know where the skeletons were buried and why.

In my view, whether the future is conservative or liberal, the past century of liberal jurisprudence is going to start getting unpacked and reversed. That's because, liberal or conservative, a lot of it is just bad law. If you were a liberal, you'd want a first-class mind to conduct the strategic retreat and save the really important legal assets in the march.

The New Haven firefighters case shows how this might play out. Judge Sotomayor was part of a panel on the case that tried to bury the case without really examining it on its merits. In other words, she and the other liberal judges on the court were engaging in a bit of liberal skulduggery to prevent the white firefighters (and one Hispanic) from getting their day in court.

Is it just to bury a case in which a municipality junked the results of a firefighters' promotion exam because it didn't promote enough blacks (even though the exam had been carefully designed to be non-discriminatory)?

When liberals long for a liberal turn for the Supreme Court, you wonder what they really want. More race and gender obsessed jurisprudence? I say: Bring It On.

Because political change comes out of rage and injustice, and the more injustice that liberals cook up the better the chance conservatives will get to build a "broad coalition" to change America for the better.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Should GOP "Reach Out?"

After two successive defeats at the polls, what should the Republican Party do to "reach out?"

There are two approaches. One is to get back to basics, and emphasize the conservative roots of the Republican Party. You could say that Rush Limbaugh represents that approach.

The other approach is the "reach out" strategy. The Republican Party is excessively male and white, on this view, and can only expect to get back into power if it reaches out to minorities and women. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell seems to be eager to own this approach.

Conservatives like Limbaugh have been less than polite to Powell for his "reach out" views, especially since Powell publicly backed Barack Obama for president in the fall of 2008. Rush has said that Powell had essentially left the party by backing Obama. Former Vice-President Cheney has publicly agreed with Rush.

Now Colin Powell has used the Sunday talk show Face The Nation to reply to Limbaugh and Cheney. And he's gathered support from former Governor Tom Ridge (R-PA).

“I think Rush articulates his point of view in ways that offend very many,” Ridge said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Even Newt Gingrich got in on the action:

"I don't want to pick a fight with Dick Cheney, but the fact is, the Republican party has to be a broad party that appeals across the country,"

All this is good clean fun, but it rather misses the point. If the American people really want a social democratic state like Europe, then there is no need for the Republican Party. The US has a welfare-state party and that party is the Democratic Party. They do welfare-state politics much better than the Republicans Party.

In 2008 Candidate Obama ran on the ancient platform of "Time for a Change" and he won. He talked optimistically about healing the sick and lowering the oceans, but didn't talk too much about the costs of his change.

If, after four or eight years, President Obama's health care reform and his cap-and-trade plans are a roaring success, then it will truly be time for the Republican Party to reinvent itself.

But if American women revolt against massive changes in their health care, and if President Obama's policies create an energy shortage, and if taxes go up all round, then Republicans might suddenly find themselves the majority party again without lifting a finger.

A look at the experience of the Conservative Party in Britain is helpful. In 1997, Tony Blair was elected in a massive landslide and promised to make over the British National Health Service and the state education system. The British people were entranced, and for three successive elections wouldn't pay any attention to the Tories.

Finally, after the third election loss, David Cameron moved to the center to show that the Tories weren't the nasty party and that they were ready to be modern and green. Real conservatives hated his tactic and the media loved it.

But now people are moving to the Conservative Party not because it is modern and green, but because the Labour Government under Blair and Brown has wrecked the economy. They've pumped hundreds of billions into health care and education, and nothing much has changed.

There's a simple lesson here. The center-left parties tend to overspend and run out of money. They do this because they see the economy as a source of funds for their government programs. Center-right parties tend to see the government sector as a place to spend money if the economy is in good shape.

When the center-left party runs out of money, then the center-right party gets a chance to come in and fix the mess.

The moral of the story? Don't Panic.

Sure, there's a place in the Republican Party for moderates, especially in the North East. But if the Republican Party stands for anything it must stand for reform of the welfare state. The question is: how to reform and how to present the reform to the American people.

Anyone who can figure that out is a genius and should go immediately to the head of the class.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Obama's Speeches: Extraordinary or Contemptible?

Yesterday, May 21, 2009, President Obama gave a speech on terrorism in which he attacked the previous administration and set the face of his team against "torture."

Conservatives are enraged. Mark Steyn called it "revolting and contemptible" on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

Over at The Atlantic James Fallows is still excited about the president's speech at Notre Dame last Sunday, "another extraordinary performance" to rank with the race speech in 2008, the Prague speech on nuclear weapons, and the Georgetown speech on long-term economic policy.
What made these presentations extraordinary was not any single phrase or sentence, nor any paragraph-long flight of fine language... Instead the power of those speeches comes from the quality of their thought -- from the ideas and truths the speaker is trying to grapple with:

It goes without saying that conservatives don't think that way at all. Hugh Hewitt comments on a central paragraph of the president's terrorism speech:

BHO: All too often, our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight. But all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, too often we set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And during this season of fear, too many of us, Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists and citizens, fell silent. HH: Mark Steyn, this is a deeply dishonest statement. It lacks the specificity that would allow people to rebut it, and it is an attempt to give himself credit for that which he does not deserve, the national security success of the last eight years, and to diminish that success.

You can see what is going on here. Liberals love the rhetoric that the president is using. They do it themselves all the time, distancing themselves morally from the actions of the US government and the American people. They do it on Pearl Harbor, on Hiroshima, on Vietnam, and Iraq.

For conservatives, this distancing is outrageous, for it supposes that liberals are helpless victims, borne along by the tide of governmental malfeasance. Conservatives cannot accept that. Conservatives live lives in which they are knocked upside the head by liberal political power every day. Whaddya mean, helpless victim?

But for liberals like James Fallows and your liberal friend next door, President Obama's rhetoric is the very essence of moral inquiry. It is exhilarating to live in a time when you can listen to a president who says such wise things. I remember a liberal friend who was utterly bewitched by Candidate Obama's race speech in 2008--in the week before Obama threw Reverend Wright under the bus.

It seems to me that there is a fundamental question here. Liberals and conservatives can't both be right about President Obama. Someone is living a fantasy here, and someone is going to get a nasty rendezvous with reality.

Well, it ain't gonna be me! But you never know. Maybe we conservatives are so blinded by our "hate" that we can't see reality. Or maybe not.

But here's a reality check. The point about President Obama is not that he is a left-wing radical. Maybe he is' maybe he isn't. The point is that he is saying and doing exactly what mainstream liberals want him to say and do.

We know that Obama's politics causes Obama Derangement Syndrome in conservatives. The question is: what do moderates, particularly moderate women think. And what will they think in 2010 and 2012?

That is the question.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

UK Parliament Falls on Sword

As the Parliament in Britain has become less and less powerful, it has become more and more corrupt. The last two weeks have been full of reports of outrageous expenses claimed by Members of Parliament. My favorite is the Conservative MP Douglas Hogg, who got the taxpayer to pay for cleaning the moat at his country house.

So Prime Minister Gordon Brown has decreed that Parliament will no longer answer to itself--like a "gentlemen's club"--but will answer to an outside regulator.

This means that the great institution that once toppled a king is going out into the night, never to return.

There have been a couple of articles pointing out that "gentlemen's clubs" would never have tolerated the trotters-in-the-trough attitude that has overwhelmed the mother of parliaments. Writes historian Andrew Roberts

If club members were caught doing half of what it turns out MPs have been up to, they would immediately be forced to resign their memberships and never show their faces again.

Clubs and associations belong to a different world from today's world. The club is a voluntary self-governing association. It believes in trust and ancient liberties, responsibility and respect.

But we live in the age of the overweening expert. People can't be trusted to do the right thing. You have to have a professional ethicist to tell them what to think.

You can see this attitude here in the United States. Banks can't be allowed to govern themselves. You have to have a central bank to tell them what to do, and when that doesn't work you add an additional layer of regulation.

Auto companies get saddled with intransigent unions, and can't adapt to new market conditions. So what do you do when the auto company goes bankrupt? You stiff the bondholders and give the company to the union--supervised of course by expert regulators in the government.

There's a reason why our founding fathers set up a republic with limited government. It's because they believed that people ought to be self-governing. They ought to be free, and they ought to be responsible. And they ought to have the power to show their mettle.

But that was in the old days before the rise of the progressive educated class. The educated class has nothing to do except regulate and second guess. So they have systemically demolished the old world of freedom and responsibility and replaced it with a system of administrative oversight and regulation.

It's just as well that the whole thing will collapse in ruins pretty soon. Because that will give us the best chance in generations to pick up the pieces and resume the great American experiment: freedom and responsibility under law. As Ronald Reagan said:

[America's] still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom.

What a concept!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Smattering" of Voters Kill CA Tax Props

There was only a "smattering of California voters" out yesterday according to Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times. but they voted down all but one of Governor Schwarzenegger's propositions to fix the state budget hole by increasing taxes and juggling spending allocations.

The tax increases didn't just go down. They went down big. Here are the numbers as of Wednesday morning.

PropositionYes voteNo vote
1A - Rainy Day Fund 34%66%
1B - Education Funding 33%66%
1C - Modernize Lottery 37%63%
1D - Child Services Funding 35%65%
1E - Mental Health Budget 34%66%
1F - Elected Official Salaries 74%26%

The main proposition was Proposition 1A. It would raise taxes now and create a rainy day fund later. The other propositions would reallocate special funds into the general fund, allow the state to borrow against future lottery proceeds, and prevent increase in elected officials' salaries in any year in which there was a deficit.

Today, of course, Governor Schwarzenegger is accepting the will of the voters and vowing to move forward.

“We face a staggering $21.3 billion deficit and in order to prevent a fiscal disaster, Democrats and Republicans must collaborate and work together to address this shortfall,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “The longer we wait the worse the problem becomes and the more limited our choices will be.”

But the real potential for disaster is the one that Schwarzenegger doesn't mention. Suppose the state cut spending and the world didn't end?

That is a prospect that doesn't bear thinking about.

But maybe President Obama will bail the state out. Why not? He's bailed just about everything else out in the last 100 days. Why not California?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Obama and Abortion at Notre Dame

If you were the leader of a pro-abortion party and you scored an invitation to a university that symbolizes the pro-life position, what would you say?

The answer is pretty obvious. You would de-emphasize your pro-abortion policy actions and emphasize the importance of everyone honoring other peoples' positions on high-profile moral issues.

Then you would go back to Washington DC and resume business-as-usual.

And that is what President Obama did when he spoke on May 17 at the University of Notre Dame.

So I think it is missing the point to suggest that Obama was lying through his teeth, as Rush Limbaugh did on Monday, or that Obama scored a major triumph, at William McGurn does in the Wall Street Journal.

The fact is that liberals are in strategic retreat on abortion, for the polls indicate that Americans are slowly becoming more pro-life. It's not hard to see why.

It's the reality of the thing. If you are a woman, there is one thing that you really ought to take seriously. Making babies. You can for a while, understandably, exult in the liberation of the sexual revolution which allows you, for the first time, to control your baby-making. But you find, in time, that this control is a poisoned chalice. Why? Because you find that you are controlling your fertility not for yourself but for your sexual partner.

It's foolish for women to go to bed with a man unless he has already made a commitment to love her forever. Because otherwise she's just a piece of meat to him. And it's easy for dead meat to get diseased.

It's foolish for women to build a life that doesn't include marriage and family. Even if you are the cleverest woman in France, like Simone de Beauvoir, what profiteth a woman if she gain the whole world, but lose her "partner" to a bevy of mistresses--and no children?

Right now, as the high tide of pro-abortion politics begins to turn, the poster boy for abortion can afford to make generous speeches at a Catholic university. Later on in the retreat our Democratic friends won't be so calm and collected.

As my Greek friend says: You only know what your dog is like when it is being hunted.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fixin' to Go Wrong on Obama's Watch

We've said it before, and we'll say it again. The whole point of electing an Obama adminstration is so that liberals can get to do some really stupid things, and live out the deluded fantasies they have cooked up in the liberal bell-jar.

And then we can upchuck the whole thing: Obama, Pelosi, big spending, the works.

Victor Davis Hanson reads the through the ingredients. He reviews six different issues:

  • Rule of Law. Strong-arm bailouts and bankrupties are not good. They mean that political power is substituting for the rule of law.
  • Energy. The Obama policy is to say No to the common sense of going for natural gas and oil and nuclear while alternative energy technologies ramp up.
  • Debt. You can't make the numbers add up without actual confiscation, so the whole thing will "blow up in the administration's face."
  • National Security. "Very schizophrenic. W[e] keep FISA, Patriot Act, rendition, military tribunals (Gitmo for now?), Predator attacks, Iraq and Afghanistan, while we trash their Bush origins," etc.
  • Civil Discord. Obama is sowing disunity.
  • Race Relations. More discord. The president invokes race wherever he goes.

You can see what is going on here. Obama is sowing the whirlwind. And yet all he is doing is executing on the standard liberal playbook.

Where will it end? It will end, in my view, sooner than we think. The Democrats exploited a tactical advantage in 2005-2008 as they played on the American people's natural discomfort with an unpopular war, and executed on a cynical cold-cock politics to stop any reform of their clunking welfare state.

But now they own the store. And Americans are already organizing in opposition to Obama's knee-jerk liberal policies.

The American people deserve better than this.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Palin Speaks the Language of Women

The Republican Party is known as the Daddy Party--a little rough and gruff at times. Everyone knows that the Democratic Party is the Mommy Party. It will try to make everything better with a check.

What Republicans and conservatives need, I've written, is a Mommy Conservatism. But it ain't easy.

How do you persuade the moderate white middle-aged woman voter to sign onto reform? You are asking her to change a government school system that is all she has ever known. You are asking her to agree to health system changes that will confuse and annoy her aging mother.

After watching the YouTube video of Sarah Palin's Right-to-Life speech in Evansville, IN, I'm here to say that Palin is one that can lead us to a woman-centered conservatism.

At least, she knows how to speak the language of women.

Most women don't think in the strident language of male politics. They think in terms of the "dilemmas" they have faced in their lives.

And that is how Palin spoke in Evansville, reported by the Washington Post.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told an antiabortion audience in Indiana on Thursday night that, "for a fleeting moment," she considered having an abortion after learning that her son Trig would have Down syndrome. The experience, she added, "now lets me understand a woman's, a girl's temptation to maybe try to make it all go away." Ultimately, Palin said, she decided she had to "walk the walk" concerning her long-standing antiabortion views.

This is the way that women talk. This is the way that conservatives need to talk. And if conservatives learn how to approach women as women, appreciating and respecting the "dilemmas" of a woman's life then we will earn the right and the support we need to reform the welfare state.

And make it not just a woman-friendly thing, but a human-friendly thing.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Changes at Road to the Middle Class

We've decided at Road to the Middle Class to surrender to progress and go to Google's Blogger for our blogging platform.  

The reason is two-fold.

  • The RMC comments feature never really worked very well.
  • It's much easier to manage the blog and to post using a fully-featured blogging platform instead of home brew.

So as of yesterday, May 13, 2009, changed.  New blog posts are now hosted at  Comments are hosted at 

But this doesn't mean much change to you, the user.  That's because, through the magic of xml feeds, you can still read the latest blogs on the home page of  as though nothing had changed.

And you can still click the "comments" link at the bottom of each blog post.  And you can still click the "more" link on recent blogs to see the full post.

The difference is that now, when you want to see a full post or you want to comment and you click on a link, you'll be redirected to  

But what do you do when you want to get back to  No problem.  Just us the menu across the top of the page at, just as you would at

Sounds simple.  But you may encounter problems.  If you do, be sure and make a comment below, or email us.  Then we can fix the problem.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"They Don't Like It Up Them"

Everyone enjoys dishing it out. If you are in power it is great fun tarring your opponents as negative and unpatriotic. But you hate their pre-revolutionary rage. If you are out of power it is great fun to poke at the corruptions and abuses of the government. But you hate the way that the government uses its power to reward its supporters and shut up its opponents.

In the British sitcom, Dad's Army, Corporal Jones expressed this universal hypocrisy as: "They don't like it up them."

So you'd expect our liberal friends to be outraged that there exist people in the United States not exactly enamored of President Obama. Even Camille Paglia, conservatives' favorite liberal, is outraged now that Obama Derangement Syndrome is rearing its ugly head.

I was utterly horrified to hear Dallas-based talk show host Mark Davis, subbing for Rush Limbaugh, laughingly and approvingly read a passage from a Dallas magazine article by CBS sportscaster David Feherty claiming that "any U.S. soldier," given a gun with two bullets and stuck in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden, would use both bullets on Pelosi and strangle the other two.

I agree. It is tasteless, and worrying in its violent intensity. But where were you, Camille, when your chaps were actually making movies about the assassination of President Bush? Not as outraged as conservatives, I'd imagine.

Camille had just seen the 1960s movie, Seven Days in May, a liberal fantasy about US military chiefs staging a coup. And she is outraged that Obama is not being given his due:

I am generally happy with Obama's eagerness to tackle long-entrenched social problems, although there is sometimes a curious disconnect between what he says and what he does. The degree to which Obama is or is not a stealth socialist remains to be seen. But it's about time an ambitious young leader shook up the stale status quo.

Notice what she is saying between the lines. It's time that someone shook up the status quo, but based on current form, it doesn't look like Obama is the one. Even so, She is not giving up on him yet.

Personally, I have been surprised by the vigor of the anti-Obama grass-roots, especially because it seems to be genuinely spontaneous, rather than "astroturf" planted from on high.

But then I was surprised by the 1994 Republican revolution too. I thought it would be the off-year in Clinton's second term before people would start wanting to throw the rascals out.

Let's not rush into any premature judgments. The next item on the agenda is the special election in California May 19, when voters are being asked to raise taxes. Hugh Hewitt thinks that the voters may be about to send a loud raspberry to their California state government leaders. Then we'll see.

"They don't like it up them."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's Obama's Budget Now

Years ago, back in the 1980s, neoconservative godfather Irving Kristol said: Enough of this green-eyeshade conservatism, where conservatives carefully balance the budget after every Democratic bender. Conservatives should go to Washington to cut taxes and when it's time for the Democrats to return to power they should make sure that the government is broke.

The last green eye-shade Republican was President George H.W. Bush. He raised taxes in a recession and got tossed out by a rebellion in the Republican ranks.

But President George W. Bush was smarter. He left the federal government absolutely flat broke, and left his successor with a bunch of nasty choices.

Candidate Obama had promised the moon to his supporters: health care for those disinclined to pay for it; yet more money for government education, and lots of lovely grants and renewable energy for environmentalists.

But the trouble is, what with the recession and the bank-bailout and the auto bailout and the state-and-local government bailout, is that there just isn't the money there for all that stuff.

So if President Obama was smart he would have entered office realizing that, like it or not, Democrats had to put on the green eye-shades and get the government's finances back on an even keel. He would have said: I tried. I tried to find the money for the vital investments we must make in the Democratic faithful. But the money just isn't there. Those Wascally Wepublicans left the nation in the lurch, and I must get us out of the ditch.

Then, after a couple of years of cuts, he could go for broke with lots of lovely new programs for the Democratic faithful just in time for the next presidential election.

Instead he kept to his original spending agenda, piled a trillion dollars of extra pork on top, and still promised to fix the economy.

The numbers don't add up, and you can see why if you look at the full FY10 budget, released by the Government Printing Office yesterday, and loaded on last night.

Take a look at the numbers. The Defense budget is not going to go down, despite the fervent yearnings of our liberal friends. Tax collections are cratering, particularly the corporate income tax. And of course, health care costs are going to continue to climb ever upwards.

What is needed is retrenchment. But retrenchment goes against the very DNA of a Democrat.

But here's the rub. If the Democrats don't do it, then someone else will. The Tea Party movement is a movement of ordinary folks that are just fed up with the liberal gravy train. They know that there's a lot of loot swilling around, and they know that they aren't getting their share. And they are damned if they are going to fork out more money so that liberals can continue to enjoy their government sinecures and pensions while they look uneasily at their 201k accounts and put off retirement.

They weren't born yesterday. They can see politicians preparing to raise taxes, and they can see the poor helpless poster boys being rehearsed backstage.

Here's my guess. When President Obama comes to the American people asking for more taxes, they are going to tell him to get lost. And Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, and any other Democrat that doesn't keep their head down.

But meanwhile, check out the facts at and They are fresh and new with the latest budget data.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Politcal Power and Money Power

One of the themes of the Democratic Party since its founding by 1812 war hero Andrew Jackson is a trust in political power over economic power. It means nothing to a Democrat to ride roughshod over property rights in the service of some greater end than mere money-making.

The trouble is that there is a big difference between political power and economic power.

Political power is all about power. Economic power is a reward for service. Unless a business learns to serve the consumer it cannot wield economic power. Its economic power lasts so long as it serves the consumer.

It is when business gets enmeshed in politics that its troubles begin. Because politics is not about serving the consumer, day in and day out. Politics is about power.

The auto companies are a sad witness to the destructiveness of political power, for the auto companies are host to a political entity, the United Auto Workers union. And the union has systemically looted the auto companies for over half a century ever since World War II. And they have done it with the encouragement of Democratic politicians.

Today the auto companies are bankrupt. So what does the Democratic Party do, led by President Obama? It straight-arms the secured creditors and gives a large minority interest in the company to the United Auto Workers union.

Rich Galen pointedly asks how this is different from the expropriation of oil service companies by President Chavez of Venezuela.

The "state firm says lower oil prices mean the contractors are being paid too much" so Chavez went for efficiency and simply seized the services companies and now the state-owned oil company owes them … nothing.

Well. It is certainly politically efficient to dodge paying the piper. But as the Fram oil filter guy says: You can pay me now or you can pay me later.

The problem with political control of the economy is that politicians and their aides know nothing about running successful companies.

That is why Fannie and Freddie were such a disaster; they were run by men and women from the Clinton administration that knew nothing about mortgage banking. But they did know a lot about lobbying Congress.

That is why the oil industry in Venezuela is a disaster. It is run by Chavez appointees, men who may be brilliant at political activism. But they are lousy at getting the heavy oil of Venezuela out of the ground and off to market.

The tragedy of expropriation politics is that the very people who cheer at the expropriation of the hated capitalists are the people that suffer first when the capitalists lose confidence and the economy tanks.

And that is what will happen to the US as the Obama administration continues its random walk through the economy making decisions based on short-term political expediency instead of long-term consumer needs.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Conservatives and Young People

What hope do conservatives have, given that young people voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama? After all, the youth is the future, and if they reject conservative ideas for liberal ideas, well...

That is what Hugh Hewitt is worrying about, and he asked Mark Roberts from Christian Biola University to write about it. Writes Roberts:

Losing the youth vote year after year is a sign of approaching party senility.

Then Roberts goes on to propose development of "middle-brow" institutions that can speak to young people.

We either need to be part of or fund the equivalent of middlebrow institutions such NPR and public television to discuss the entire culture from a conservative point of view. A political movement in a republic cannot be healthy if it loses the class of people who are not professional intellectuals, but who care deeply about the life of the mind. Such folk will produce much of the popular entertainments consumed by the rest of us.

Yes, but who's that "we?" And don't we need the young people themselves to develop the middle-brow institutions?

Actually, the miracle is that any conservative ideas get a hearing and any conservative politician gets elected. Given that the left controls the schools and the media your average young person would be a force of nature to get through twelve years of schooling without internalizing the lefty world-view.

In the current situation, conservatives are stuck with a raiding strategy. We can only swoop down and conquer when the liberal agenda has failed. That's how Ronald Reagan got elected. In 1980 it was pretty obvious that something was wrong. When Ronald Reagan came up with a solution that seemed to work, he got the votes of young people.

Here in the United States we've had a cultural drumbeat for the last ten years against conservatives as mean-spirited and narrow-minded. Bush Derangement Syndrome amplified anti-conservative rhetoric up to a level that could damage people's hearing.

And of course, young people are receptive to anti-authority rhetoric. Always have been.

But don't forget that right now the Dems are in control, in the White House and in the Congress. So if you are a real anti-authority figure, you'll be anti-Obama and anti-Pelosi, right? I dare say that we'll see a lot of conservative entertainment media seeping up through the cracks, now that video is so cheap to produce, and now that the official hypocrisy is all liberal.

The other big problem for conservatives is the schools. As long as the schools are government schools they will be trying to turn out graduates that love big government. The solution here is to educate children away from the schools.

The more I think about it the more obvious it is that the purpose of the education system is to raise nice dutiful little liberals who will take their place either as elite transgressive creative artists or as bureaucratic placemen and women in the administrative state.

But conservatives want to raise children who are courageous and adventurous. Obviously you can't raise such children if they are stuck in school for twelve years sitting on their butts watching environmental agitprop like Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth.

It is pretty obvious. Adventurous adults need to be raised to adventure while they are still children. They need to be self-directed. They need to have a healthy attitude towards risk. They need to be trained in the four aspects of competence: knowledge, skill, experience, judgment.

There's no need for conservatives to worry about becoming irrelevant. What we need to do is have the courage of our convictions and live our lives as a demonstration of our convictions.

Here's a prediction. If conservatives have the courage of gtheir convictions and make their lives into a witness to their convictions there will be a consequence. Young people will notice.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Barack von Schlieffen

There are reports this week about the secret plan for health-care reform. Bill writers are apparently not leaking as they beaver away to produce a plan that will utterly transform health care in America as we know it.

And that is saying nothing about the grand plan to transform energy production and use with the Obama administration's cap-and-trade plan.

For those of us with a little historical memory there is something eerily familiar about all this. But what is it?

The "It" is, of course, the Schlieffen Plan. It was the audacious plan of the Great German General Staff to take out France in six weeks with a stunning right hook through Belgium so that they could turn their armies eastward and deal with the Russians.

In the event, in 1914, they muffed it.

The question that General von Schlieffen did not ask is: What do you do with a defeated France and a defeated Russia after you are done whipping them? The Germans had already beaten France in 1870 and then stood around embarrassed for nearly a year while the French refused to capitulate.

In fact the Schlieffen Plan was an admission of failure, that Germany had weakened itself by becoming the strongest nation in Europe. If the Germans had merely taught France a short, sharp lesson in 1870 they could have gone home and returned to being merely the most advanced nation in the world, with the best philosophers, the best composers, the best scientists, and the best engineers, and the best universities.

Our liberal friends have a word for this deemphasis of "hard" military and political power. They call it "soft power." So then why are they not following their own advice and going slowly on their plans for health care reform and energy reform?

Because they must sense that time is running out on their project. They feel that strange and awful forces are gathering to plot their downfall. And they are right. Here are a few markers:

  • The vast administrative apparatus they have built up in health care, in education, and in welfare is starting to crack. Designed over a century ago, it just doesn't do the job in the 21st century. Major reform is needed, but liberals can't allow reform because they might lose power.
  • The liberal hegemony over the business and financial sector is a failure. Remember, all this regulation of business and government central banking was put together because you couldn't trust businessmen like Rockefeller and bankers like Morgan with the power to make or break the nation. But the recent credit crack-up demonstrates that the political hacks in charge of the financial system are clueless and the banking welfare queens that government financial welfare has created are as mindless and irresponsible as the underclass clients of the social workers.
  • Liberal hegemony over the culture is a failure. Liberals are unmasked. In their personal lives they just want to fritter themselves away on projects of "creativity" while abandoning the real work of creating families and children. There is a simple word for a culture like this: Dead end.
So it makes complete sense that the Obama administration is executing the political equivalent of the famous Schlieffen Plan with its audacious left hook through health care and energy. The Obamunists sense that their liberal hour is coming to a close. It's now or never for them.

But liberals should remember what happened to Germany after its desperate effort to break out of its encirclement. It led to the utter defeat and humiliation of Germany, because the whole world ganged up to defeat the Bloody Hun.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tea Parties: Astroturf or Sown by the Wind?

Our Democratic friends were very quick to brush off the Tea Party movement as "astroturf," which is liberal-speak for a movement that pretends to be grass-roots but is instead manipulated by string pullers from on high.

Liberal Harvard professor Theda Skocpol has written about this in Diminshed Democracy. She finds that the US used to have lots of membership associations that were represented by an elite cadre in Washington. Today’s activist groups, especially on the liberal side, are typically cadre with few members.

But it’s pretty clear that the Tea Party movement is not a fake movement pretending to be grass roots, like, e.g., ACORN. Here’s an article in the Wausau Daily Herald by Meg Ellefson, organizer of a Tea Party in Wausau, Wisconsin. She makes it all perfectly clear.

I organized the Wausau Tea Party in about two weeks, with donated goods and services from individuals and small business owners... I’m just a regular mom who lives in Rib Mountain, who is fed up with our government and motivated to plan a tea party. I am not involved in Wisconsin politics, nor have I ever been affiliated with any candidate’s campaign in Wisconsin.

Ellefson was pretty clear about her concerns:

Wisconsin tax payers are fed up with government’s out-of-control spending and excessive taxation without representation.

This spring our Democratic friends are clearly engaged upon a massive dash to implement their agenda before anyone can wake up and oppose it. Hugh Hewitt today writes about the secret talks to develop the Democratic health reform plan.

I have the feeling that the Democrats are making a strategic mistake. The rush to push things through and make them a fait accompli before opposition can develop is telling. It tells us that they know that their ideas are really not popular.

Maybe their strategy is right. Maybe thet can cram their agenda down our throats, and keep it there. But maybe they will provoke instead a movement of rejection that will change the face of politics in America.