Friday, June 28, 2013

Our Global "Little Darlings" Problem

In the old days they used to urge mothers not to let their babies grow up to be cowboys.  Or "pick guitars and drive them old trucks," as the song goes.  Instead, let them be "doctors and lawyers and such."

But I think the much bigger problem is letting your babies grow up to be the "little darlings" of the politicians.

The first people that grew up to be little darlings were the workers.  And look what happened.  Marxists used the workers to build the most oppressive regimes in history and basically enslaved the workers to produce useless products that nobody wanted.  That's when they weren't starving them to death with the aesthetic projects to build model villages and model tank factories in Magnitogorsk.

The ordinary democratic socialists were different.  They merely taxed the workers (or sneakily their employers) to the hilt; they took their savings and put them in non-existent "trust funds." All in all, they treat the workers as slaves on an advanced slave plantation.  I mean that they treat the workers humanely, but as cogs in a machine.

And as for the labor unions, the once authentic brotherhoods of the working stiffs, they are reduced to being political pawns, stooges for government bosses, as the IRS union has recently demonstrated.

Who was next to be anointed as political little darlings?  Women, of course.  Women were shockingly oppressed.  What they needed was the vote, government welfare, contraception, abortion, no-fault divorce, and careers in the workplace.  Everything except love, marriage, and children.  What's happened is that the lower-class culture has been demolished, as women retreat from marriage and men retreat from work.  Women have become the cats-paw of politicians, to be serially terrified by some new threat to their safety or health.

Then of course we have African Americans, or "minorities."  They have also become the little darlings of the politicians.  But, of course, to be any use to politicians they must be mobilized, and mobilization takes hate and fear.  So our liberal politicians use infinite patience and guile to keep African Americans terrified by a return to Jim Crow and police brutality.

The latest little darlings of the politicians are the gays.  In my young days, the most anti-gay folks were the left.  In Britain they used to equate gayness with upper-class privilege and decadence.  Today, of course, the left equates anti-gayness with right-wing hate and bigotry in the heartland, and the Supreme Court is one decision away from mandating gay marriage nationwide.

Here's my problem.  Any time that you gin up a political movement and use the government to advance your agenda, you end up becoming political cannon fodder.

Workers' rights:  Wouldn't it have been better not to create a gigantic welfare state and to nationalize the social welfare aspects of labor unions, so that workers could themselves build the kind of protection they wanted and were prepared to pay for?

Women's rights: Is free sex and abortion and easy divorce really such a benefit to women?  Doesn't it devalue love and marriage and children?  And doesn't every woman you know eventually return to all three, usually after it's too late?

Civil rights:  It's one thing to write a law to enforce racial equality.  It's another thing to make race a factor in giving out the goodies to your political supporters.  Politics is division.  When you inject race into politics, you sow racial division and conflict.

Gay rights: It's one thing to stop the police from raiding gay hangouts.  It's another thing to advertise that gay life is just a lifestyle choice, and gay marriage is just like marriage, and then force America to agree with you or else.

The problem with the "little darlings" problem is that in politics, nobody knows when to stop.  In the end you destroy what you started out to create, because government is force.  It turns everything it touches into a war, because that's what force is for.  It turns a people into the opposite of society, which is people living in amity with their neighbors.

The leaders of the workers ended up using government to destroy the great industrial corporations in steel and automobiles.  The leaders of the feminists ended up using government to destroy love and marriage.  The civil rights leaders ended up destroying the hope of amity between the races.  We don't yet know how the gay-rights movement will self-destruct.

Don't let your babies grow up to be little darlings.  It will turn them into missiles of social destruction.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Women are the Future

It's been a demoralizing week for conservatives as the US Supreme Court muddled its way towards rubber-stamping the ruling class's views on gay marriage, as it rubber-stamped the ruling class's views on abortion a generation ago.

Meanwhile the US Senate is continuing the peculiar institution of "undocumented workers," the system whereby we don't enforce immigration laws on people that have overstayed their visas.

The frustrating thing for conservatives is that we are not the culture; we are a subculture.  The culture is the culture of the ruling class, with its administrative welfare state and its libertine sexual culture.  And if you disagree with that culture you had better expect to be named and shamed.  Where does it end?

I have already argued that, economically the rule of the administrative welfare state will only end when it runs out of money.  The American people voted for that in 2012 when they symbolically voted for an unremarkable scion of the ruling class, Barack Obama, over a man that symbolizes America.  First of all, Mitt Romney is a member of an natural-born American religious sect, the Mormons, that was started during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century.  Mitt Romney entire life symbolizes "civil society."  All his life he has combined faithful family life with an energetic business career and an untiring dedication to church responsibilities.  His business career, in particular, was all about taking problem organizations and restructuring them.  But the American people said: No.  So we will probably not be able to reform the welfare state before it goes broke.

But what about the cultural side of things?  In my view things will not change until women give up on the ruling class and form a moral movement of resistance against its self-indulgent libertinism.

It was said back in the Sixties that the sexual and the drug revolution was all very well for the upper middle class.  It had the money and the resources to climb back out of the abyss.  But the poor and the working class did not.  They went to the wall and paid the full price of vice.

The ruling class argues that its programs are there to help people in need.  The welfare state is there to help people that can't help themselves.  Abortion is there so women have the right to choose whether to bear a child.  We've moved on from the "Father Knows Best" family of the 1950s.

Nothing will change until women realize that they have been sold a bill of goods on all this.  Women cannot rear healthy families unless government gets out of it.  Every child need a mother and a father: their mother and their father.  The welfare state breaks up the family.  Women cannot allow the abortion culture that licenses young men to bonk everything in sight and tell their victims to go get an abortion.  Women must realize that freedom for women is a world in which every man that impregnates a woman would be eager to marry her and raise that child with her.

I often argue that men are fighters and women are lovers.  There's a beautiful eulogy in Commentary by John Podhoretz to his sister Rachel.  Here was a woman so full of love it overflowed.
Our sister Naomi once said she had never seen anyone who loved being a mother so unqualifiedly as Rachel. It was not that she loved her children more than anyone else, not that she exemplified maternal wisdom like her beloved Marmee from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. It was that Rachel took an almost sybaritic pleasure in mothering, in all of it, the quotidian and the profound, the meals and the fights, the company of these small beings whom she not only loved fiercely but really, really, really liked.
The longer I live, the more I appreciate how women's lives are utterly devoted to love.

It is my judgement that the ruling class culture of the administrative state and "activism" and identity politics make it very difficult for women to construct lives built around love.  If you ask me, the present culture is a war against women and their culture of love.

It is my faith that eventually women will create a moral movement that will rise up against the ruling class culture and restore a culture of love.  Why will they do it?  Because women cannot stand a world without love.

Coincidentally the women's movement of love will restore for men a culture of domestic warriors, fighting for hearth and home.

The new culture will be a culture of love and marriage and children and civic service.  Why?  Because humans are social animals, and social animals can only flourish when they are being social.

Yes, but what is "social?"  It sounds like socialism, and we know where that ends up.  So let me make it clear.  Social doesn't include government, because government is force.  Social doesn't include politics, because politics is division and hate.  Social doesn't include system and administration and bureaucracy, because system is domination.

Social means little platoons, a culture of affection, civic society, associations, neighborliness, and love.

Yes, but when?  I don't know, but I believe that if I can think it, someone is already doing it.  And pretty soon that someone will form a movement, and pretty soon after that you and I will hear about it or read about it.  And pretty soon after that it will get onto the media radar.

And then the cat will be among the pigeons.  But only women can make it happen.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ruling Class and Country Class

Now that the present ruling class is about 100 years old, we can look around and see what it has done.  We can put up a notice, as Sir Christopher Wren's son did on his father's grave: "Si monumentum requiris, circumspice."  If you seek his monument, look around.

It is interesting, to me, to think about what the ruling class has conceded to its subjects, the "country class" of Angelo Codevilla, and what it has not.  It is pretty obvious to me that all the social issues, from the just-decided gay marriage to abortion and the "sexual revolution" are issues on which the ruling class has imposed its will.  The ruling class wants to be able to do what it wants, and it has the cultural and political power to impose its will.

But then the whole welfare state is also the ruling class's idea.  The working class may have had an idea of free education and higher wages with unions.  But it certainly didn't come up with the idea of nationalizing its fraternal associations and benefit clubs into the administrative welfare state.  That was the idea of the educated ruling class.  And who benefits?  The ruling class, because it gets lots of jobs and sinecures out of the administrative welfare state, from professorships to directorships to counselorships.

Now, in the case of social issues and the administrative welfare state it is clear that the ruling class has created an over-under coalition with the underclass.  But what about the middle-class entitlements: pensions, Medicare, and education?  Again, the ruling class gets what it wants, but this time in a coalition with the middle class and against the underclass, which must grub for the $1 trillion a year in crumbs for welfare, compared to the $3 trillion in pension/healthcare/education colossus that is subsidizing the middle class.

Angelo Codevilla wrote back in 2010 that if you agree with the ruling class, you have a party to vote for: the Democrats.  But if you disagree with the ruling class, you are out of luck, because the Republican Party is a kind of junior ruling class.
[T]he ruling class has a party, the Democrats. But some two-thirds of Americans — a few Democratic voters, most Republican voters, and all independents — lack a vehicle in electoral politics.
Sooner or later, this will change.
Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority’s demand for representation will be filled. Whereas in 1968 Governor George Wallace’s taunt “there ain’t a dime’s worth of difference” between the Republican and Democratic parties resonated with only 13.5 percent of the American people, in 1992 Ross Perot became a serious contender for the presidency (at one point he was favored by 39 percent of Americans vs. 31 percent for G.H.W. Bush and 25 percent for Clinton) simply by speaking ill of the ruling class. 
But how?  How will the majority's demand for representation be filled?  The simple answer is that it won't happen until the ruling class starts to run out of money and start losing wars.   The French Revolution didn't occur until the French monarchy was broke after losing a couple wars against the Brits.  The Reagan Revolution didn't come along until the ruling class had lost the war in Vietnam.

There is this.  A good ruling class knows that it must train its young up, get tough on them and make them deserve their inheritance.  The prime example of this was the Spartan regime in ancient Greece.  But our ruling class is terminally self-indulgent.  Perhaps it has no option; perhaps it has to buy the support of each rising generation of the ruling class.

The ruling class can go soft in a hurry.  It didn't take long for the murderous Bolsheviks to go soft on terror, then go soft on their empire, and then just hand over the reins of power to the KGB.

All we know is that our ruling class will one day lose power.  And that the way of its losing will take everyone by surprise.

Of course, the cure may be worse than the disease.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Obama, Government, Politics and War

If only, writes Victor David Hanson, President Obama would show the same aggressiveness towards thug dictators that he demonstrates towards evil Republicans.
I cannot recall, in the last five years, Barack Obama ever identifying the Iranians, Hezbollah, or the late Hugo Chavez as among our “enemies,” in the fashion that he once urged Latino leaders to punish conservatives at the polls: “We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”
I've written about this in the recent past.  In fact I am always writing about it.  Our liberal friends are always making allowances for foreign governments, allowances that they never make about conservatives and Republicans.  For conservatives it's "punch back twice as hard" or "bring a gun to a knife fight."

The explanation is, of course, very simple.  Government always needs a war to justify its resort to force.  The war that President Obama and his people are waging is the war against conservatives.  In this they are not conjuring up straw men or imagining enemies on the right; conservatives really are the people that stand in the way of liberals and their vision for a better society.  Conservatives really are the enemy.

Now I like to say that government is force, politics is division, system is domination.  But war is the intersection of all these notions.  Why start with politics unless you have a war to wage against a monstrous enemy?  Why win control of the government unless you mean to mobilize the nation to arms?  And how can that war be waged without the systematic domination of the nation and the culture and the conversion of all interests and factions to the single overriding need to win the war?

Now we know what Republicans were missing in 2008 and 2012.  They were missing a reason to go to war.  It is not enough to rally your supporters and paint a vision of a glorious future of good jobs as Mitt Romney did.  You must have an enemy to vanquish, and President Obama was off the table because that would be racist.

In 2008 the Democrats had George W. Bush to run against.  In 2012 they had the monster Mitt Romney that had put a dog on the roof of his car and ruined the life of laid-off steelworker Joe Soptic.   And did they ever.

In 2014 and 2016 it is obvious what Republicans will be running against.  They will be running against the corruption and the injustice of Obama.  And the IRS and the NSA and Obamacare and scandals yet unseen that demonstrate that, for the Obamis, there is no law that should hinder them in their righteous war against "Republicans and all they stand for."  Republicans will be running against Big Government.  But not, of course, against the vital entitlements like Medicare and Social Security.  Oh no.  Those are insurance programs, for which we paid FICA taxes.  We are owed.

But what about foreign enemies, from radical Islam to thug Russia and ambitious China?  Shouldn't we be sounding the tocsin against those dangers?

In my view, we should use the Obama years as a chance to regroup: winter quarters, Valley Forge and all that.  Maybe we don't care about Islam in the Middle East so much.  Maybe our focus should be on Islam in the West.  Maybe Islam isn't the problem but liberalism is.  Just as the Carter interregnum provided a necessary pause before the Reagan years, maybe the Obama years give us a chance to think, and come up with a better strategy than the Bush occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

But we can never shrink from the truth that we are in a war.  We are in a war because war is the intersection of government, politics, and system.  There is no escape from it.  If you haven't figured out who the enemy is then you don't have a war and you can't enter the lists of politics or win the powers of government.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Liberal Blind Spot

I was out in flyover country over the weekend, and I got to talk to some real middle-class women.  You know the kind, working at ordinary jobs like paralegal and supermarket merchandising manager.  They are the kind of people that the politicians ought to be thinking about when they implement their grand plans for the fundamental transformation of America.

They ought to pay attention because those ordinary middle-class folks are the ones that will pay the price for the political mistakes of the politicians, and will reap the reward if the politicians actually do something to benefit the nation.

Then I ask myself what the Obama administration has done for people like that.  Because I suspect that what good honest middle class women want is enough prosperity so they can raise and educate and establish their children in peace.

And I ask myself what the IRS scandal and the NSA scandal and the Benghazi scandal have to do with that?

The big problem with the Obama era liberals is that they are not governing for the interest of the average American.  They are crusaders trying to bring the true religion to a nation of unbelievers.  In the battle of good against evil, you can't worry too much about collateral damage.  Not if you can keep the Tea Party groups at bay long enough to win reelection, or swing the EPA to win your war against coal.

In this I think that the Obamis are doubly wrong.  First of all they are wrong tactically.  It just isn't good politics to keep your supporters riled up in a permanent campaign.  What happens is that they start to use government in blatant ways to help your political agenda.  That helps recruit people for the opposition, for a governing party is never more than a clique.  The more you divide the nation with your politics and the more you hand out goodies to your supporters the more you will create malcontents that got hurt by one of your myrmidons or that didn't get a share of the loot.

But the bigger issue, that goes beyond tactics and strategy, is the separation of church and state.  The great gaping flaw in progressive politics is that it ends the separation of church and state.  That is, it joins together the defense of the nation from enemies foreign and domestic with the question of the fight of good against evil.  We see this clearly in the IRS intimidation of Tea Party groups.

If you are a Lois Lerner that has gone through a normal education K-12 through law school, you have probably had over a dozen teachers that believed that conservatives were nothing more than racists, sexists and homophobes.

Lois Lerner was apparently quite happy to be putting the Christian Coalition through the regulatory wringer when she served at the Federal Election Commission.  And she did an equally enthusiastic job at the IRS exempt organizations unit.  How does a Lois Lerner get her beliefs and her enthusiasms?  She doesn't have to do anything.  It is in the very air she breathes as a Susie Goodgirl getting good grades from her liberal teachers in the government schools.

Here's the problem.  It is one thing to win the battle of ideas.  It is another thing to march through the institutions of government and turn the bureaucrats into partisan supporters of your progressive religion.

The argument is not that you shouldn't bother to try it because it won't work.  It may work all too well.  The problem is that you get civil war at the end of it, because you create enemies out of the people that you intimidate and dominate.  And then your wonderful vision of the future collapses in war and mayhem.

There seems to me to be a kind of crude ignorance of all this in the modern progressive liberal.  They really don't get how they are wrecking their own cause by cutting corners and self-dealing.  I am talking of everything from the aggressive pursuit of leaks to the pervasive waiving of the law in the treatment of illegal aliens to the nod-nod-wink-wink looking the other way in the whole welfare culture.

The reason for the government to follow the rules is to avoid giving people the idea that the only way they can obtain justice is in the streets.  Liberals think they own the streets: just yesterday Sen. Chuck Schumer threatened demonstrations if Congress didn't pass his immigration reform.  But I think liberals are wrong.  I think they completely underestimate how thin the ice is.  They think they own the culture, own the politics, and they are above the rules.

I am here to say that the liberals are wrong on all that.  But we will all have to pay for their mistake.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Do Liberals Sneer at the Responsible Individual?

Over the past year I've been developing the concept of the "responsible self" as the sine qua non of conservatism.  I stole the idea, fair and square, from Robert Bellah, who introduces the idea in his paper "Religious Evolution".

Bellah argues that the Axial Age featured the emergence of "historical religion" that featured not the old ways of propitiating the gods but a simple salvation concept: "the religious goal of salvation (or enlightenment, release and so forth) is for the first time the central religious preoccupation."

But this engages not the tribe but the individual.  It is the individual that will be saved, get enlightenment or burn in hell.  So each individual is called to take charge of his life to gain that priceless reward: salvation in the next world.  Here it is in scholar-speak.
The identity confusion characteristic of both primitive and archaic religions is radically challenged by the historic religious symbolization, which leads for the first time to a clearly structured conception of the self.  Devalutaion of the empirical world and the empirical self highlights the conception of a responsible self, a core self or a true self, deeper than the flux of everyday experience...  [T]he historic religions promise man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
This is the birth of individualism.  It is not the cartoon individualism, the center of selfishness and egoism, used as a straw man by our liberal friends.  It is the awful responsibility that ultimately I, not my comfortable family or tribe, is responsible for my life.  It is I and only I that will be judged at the Last Judgment.

Now when I wrote my latest American Thinker piece "The Consequences of Liberalism" I wrote the following about liberals and the responsible self:
It makes complete sense that liberals sneer at the responsible individual, the busy bourgeois, the independent householder, the church member, and harass them. The bourgeois middle class with its businesses, its adaptability, its families, its work and its savings represent the existential threat to liberal power and its curdling tribalism.
Then I got an email from a good liberal who took me to task on everything, but particular the sneer bit.
Liberals do NOT sneer at the responsible individual.  That is a total, and outrageous, lie.  What liberals advocate is that the opportunity to be a “responsible individual” be accorded to everyone; that each of us be accepted for what he, the individual, is, or wants to be. 
Actually, my interlocutor gives away the store.  The notion of the "responsible self" in the Axial Age religions and in modern conservatism is that each one of us is responsible to God (and by inference, society) for our lives.  But when you say that each of us be accepted for what we are or want to be, he is removing the fundamental argument of responsibility.  We can be whatever we want.  No problem.  No consequence.  No responsibility.  You get to be called a responsible individual even if you're not.

I've written elsewhere that liberals believe not in the responsible self but the creative self, the revolutionary self, the educated self, the marginalized self.  Anything but the responsible self.  But they can't really admit to themselves that they have turned against the responsible self even though the whole administrative welfare state is an attack on the responsible self and the whole culture, from Hollywood to TV sitcoms, is a sneer at the responsible self.  Why, in Pleasantville the point is made with a sledgehammer.  The boring responsible suburbanites are shown in black and white -- "Honey, I'm home! -- and the redemptive creative types are shown in living color.  Get it, rubes?

My liberal interlocutor has also drunk the KoolAid on Social Security.  "The government isn’t “spending money on pensions” if you’re including Social Security.  Although Congress was sufficiently stupid in the 70’s to move it into the Federal budget, the Federal budget system and tax stream do not fund SSI.  FICA funds it."  You gotta hand it to FDR and the Democrats.  They've got millions of people believing that the government actually segregates all that FICA money for Social Security.  At least President Obama has admitted that Medicare is a crook deal.
President Obama had Senate Republicans nodding in agreement during a recent ice-breaking dinner as he described a basic problem for the nation's fiscal future: For each dollar that Americans pay for Medicare, they ultimately draw about $3 in benefits. What's more, he added, most people do not understand that.
Any more than most people do not understand that Social Security is not an insurance program, but a simple income redistribution program from the young to the old.

But don't worry, sports fans.  Liberals won't be doing too much on the sneering front in the next few years.  It looks like the Obama administration is finally getting caught in the maelstrom of its vaporous rhetoric.  And it's only just begun.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wile E. Coyote Politics

The great faith at the heart of modern conservatism is that it can't go on like this.

Of course, we've been saying that for decades, and yet liberalism seems to go on from triumph to triumph.

Well, maybe it doesn't triumph, but it still manages to keep handing out the free stuff and win votes.

When and how does the music stop?  In bus fare riots in Brazil, where the government is now rescinding a 7 percent increase in mass transit fares.  Or food riots in Egypt, where food has been price-controlled since the days of Abdul Nasser in the 1950s.

No doubt we'll see the same thing here in the US when they start curbing EBT use.

The trouble with free stuff is that eventually you run out of other peoples' money; but the people on the receiving end of the free stuff have come to take it for granted.  So they take to the streets.

I'm wondering how the twentysomethings are going to take to the gigantic increases in health insurance this coming year as Obamacare comes on stream and they find out that they are the guys that are going to pay for it.  Do you think they will take to the streets?

David Hogberg has a telling article about this.  It's about the impact of Obamacare on the twentysomethings of Portland, Oregon.  Think about it.  The whole idea of moving to Portland is to live a low-geared life, without the cost of a car or a home or a spouse, and just hang out for a few years in the single-friendly culture of liberal Portland.

But just think what the Democrats are doing to the young singles.  First of all there is the repayment of those student loans.  Yes, we all know how Democrats care about students, but we also know that the main effect of student loans has been to rack up college fees.  One fine day the Susie Goodgirls are going to wake up and realize they've been had.

Now the Democrats are proposing to make young singles pay for Obamacare.  You think that somewhere along the line the young singles are going to get it?  That they are being played for patsies? That all the stuff about wars on women and Republican bigotry on abortion and gay marriage means nothing compared to the fiscal burden of student loans and mandatory health insurance?

I know.  Don't hold your breath.

And then there's education in general.  George Will has a retrospective on inequality where he reminds us that education is not really an equalizer.  He reminds us of Edward Banfield's 1970 comment in The Unheavenly City:
All education favors the middle- and upper-class child, because to be middle or upper class is to have qualities that make one particularly educable.
Yet liberals chunter along, secure in the faith that education is a good thing for everyone.  They mean, of course, that education is real good for liberals so it stands to reason that it is real good for everyone.

Meanwhile the middle- and upper-classes are taking their children out of government education and home-schooling them or sending them to private schools.

And meanwhile liberals are pushing an immigration bill that will generate more competition for the low-paid workers.

Now we hear that President Obama is going to do a big push on climate change, starting with regulations to retire coal-fired electric plants.  Golly gee, I wonder what effect that will have.  I guess it will create lots of jobs for young women with degrees in environmental science, but not much for the low-paid worker that needs cheap energy to create jobs.

For conservatives, "these are the times that try men's souls."  Everything that we know and feel tells us that the nation is being propelled to disaster by a cruel and unjust ruling class.  Subsidy is piled on subsidy, administrative folly on folly, the government bureaucracy is swung into action to intimidate the ruling party's opponents.  The divisive words of election campaigns are extended into the "permanent campaign."

We know that at the end of the Obama era is not just a change of administration but something far more daunting.  The future prosperity of America will only begin when the twentysomethings of Portland, Oregon get a life.  When the folks that gave up in the Great Recession and got themselves on Social Security Disability get back in the game.  When the folks gaming the welfare system get a job.  When the single mother gets a husband.  When the green energy cronies get into an honest business.  When the education system gets a Hercules.  When people start to pay for their own health care.  When people save for their own retirement.

But the fact is that under the rule of the liberal ruling class every one of these sensible, practical ideas, in which people direct their lives towards responsibility and service, has been shredded to pieces.  The fact is that as the money runs out tens of millions of folks are going to be consumed with rage, starting with the twentysomethings in Portland.  Just like the folks in Brazil and Egypt.  And they'll probably blame the insurance companies and the bankers, and whoever else the liberals set up as a scapegoat.

There's a piece of Wile E. Coyote in every politician.  He fearlessly chases after some Roadrunner, confident in the knowledge that he'll catch the little feller around the next bend.

Problem is, when the politician rams into a rock wall or runs off the edge of a western mesa, it's not the politician that ends up in red ruin.  It is the political supporters that suddenly find their free stuff snatched away, forever.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Shame of the Liberals

In my American Thinker piece, "The Consequences of Liberalism" I championed the individualism of the conservatives against the tribalism of liberalism.

I presented individualism as the new collectivism of the city, inaugurated by the Axial Age.  The point of individualism was not to free the individual from his ties to society, to encourage uncontrolled rugged individuals.  It was to make each person responsible individually to society and to God for his behavior.

The point of individualism is that it provides a means of socialization and fraternal ties in the city to replace the old system of clan loyalty and blood brotherhood.

Obviously, in the new city culture, the old ties of blood and kin are problematic.  Max Weber argues that the relative decline of India and China during the great world conquests of the West in the last 500 years issued from their failure to ditch caste and clan loyalties in favor of the new individualist social ethos of the western city.

Suppose you are a ruling elite.  Having read your histories and your philosophies and your theologies you would appreciate that the secret to a healthy wealthy society in the modern age was now to help people, as they move to the city, to transcend the old ties of blood and develop the new ties of individual responsibility, the ethos of the "responsible self."

If you were a wise and compassionate ruling class you would realize that the people coming to the city -- and they are coming to the city in China at the rate of over 10 million a year -- needed to hang on to their old blood and clan ties, but that they needed help, a "nudge" in fashionable argot, to transition to the new individualist "responsible ego" rather than hide in the collective mass or blame scapegoats for their problems.

This is what our liberal friends have failed to do.  First they bid for the support of the working class by appealing to class tribalism.  Now they have extended that, with their "identity politics," to race tribalism and gender tribalism.

There is only one word for this failure of nerve and failure of responsibility.  It is shameful.

Here we have a Reuters report of the great and the good gathering for a TED conference in Scotland.  There was George Papandreou of Greece.
He admitted that hardship had been imposed on people who were “in the main, not to blame for the crisis” and accused the European establishment of uncritically, and at great cost, clinging to “the orthodoxy of austerity.”

Small Greece, he argued, had been made the scapegoat for a larger political and economic failure.
Then "Didier Sornette, a professor of risk at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, took the world’s financiers to task for being so bad at anticipating asset bubbles."  Followed by a foundation director taking the ratings agencies to the woodshed.

Then there was the economics professor who argued that far from thinking of the "state sector as a Kafkaesque world of inefficiency, bureaucracy and frustration", we should remember its contribution to the Internet and the iPhone.

Then Chrystia Freeland, the Reuters reporter, talked about her "chief obsession, soaring global income inequality" and finishes up with a Russian speaker on neo-liberalism in retreat.

But of course all this is rubbish, a superficial review of the symptoms of the problem, a picture of the ruling elite thrashing around in abject failure.

The mess of the last decade is the consequence of the ruling class failing to lead and instead using its power instead to entice voters into surrendering their birthright for a mess of pottage.  And the tactics it has used, over and over again, are the tactics of tribalism.  Don't trust those bankers.  Don't trust those conservatives.  Don't trust the corporations.  Trust government to deliver pensions.  Trust government to relieve the poor.  Trust government to lean on the credit markets to get you a mortgage.

But, of course, government promises things it just cannot deliver, starting with the problem that it cannot, because nobody can, predict when and how people will be able to retire and stop working in 30 years from now.

The result has been endless disaster, starting with the German inflations of the 1920s.  Government had promised all kinds of benefits before WWI, and after the war they couldn't be met.  So the government inflated and destroyed the savings of the middle class.  Way to go, Klaus.

Then we had the central bank follies of the 1920s followed by the Great Depression.  Then after WWII we had financial repression as nations got out from the burden of WWII war debt.  Another euthanasia of the rentiers.  Then we got the Great Society, a huge increase in entitlement spending followed by the inflation of the 1970s.

While getting out of the inflation mess, we ended up bankrupting the political darlings of the Savings and Loans, at a cost of about $150 billion.  Then the government started a huge boom in housing with its government sponsored mortgage giants, Fannie and Freddie.  When they came down 2008 they nearly wrecked the global economy and required the printing presses to be sent into orbit to clean up the credit mess.  Yes, the bankers were bad, but they were just putting lipstick on the GSE pigs.

So what we are seeing is the ruling class continually trying to pitch out of a jam.  But they were the guys that got into the jam by promising things that they couldn't deliver on, that nobody could deliver on.  They were the guys offering free stuff, and who can resist free stuff.

That is the shame of the liberals.  They came offering gifts to the working stiff, and the working stiffs believed them.  When things got sticky they resorted to crude race cards and class warfare, the tricks of the tribal leader, to rally their base and keep the votes coming in.

Well, now the lies and the deceits are rebounding on the liberals.  Their vaunted Keynesian economics has delivered 1-2 percent growth.  Their comprehensive and mandatory health care plan is looking more and more like a train wreck.  Their schools are failing, and their college graduates, the ones that voted so enthusiastically for Barack Obama, are being sold into a revival of the old injustice of debt slavery, the ancient trick of the ruling class to keep the peasants down.

Yeah.  "I owe my soul to the company store" ain't got nothing on the student debt lark.

Liberals have had a great advantage over the recent decades of being able to say anything and have the mainstream media just go along.  But is it really an advantage?  It tempts them into saying things that just aren't true.  Eventually, that stuff catches up with you, as we are finding out right now.

Imagine if the media had held Barack Obama to a higher standard than the one they set for wascally Wepublicans.  Then Obama wouldn't have tried his intimidation tactics and the folks at the IRS wouldn't have thought it was their job to go after tea party groups.

And we wouldn't be looking at the Obamapaloosa scandals.  And we wouldn't be looking at a likely eruption in the 2014 elections.

Personal Note for Ruth Bader Ginsburg:  It I were you I would resign my seat on the Supreme Court next month to make sure that President Obama could get a nice liberal through the Senate before the 2014 campaign and the 2014 election.  Just a thought.

Monday, June 17, 2013

What Laws? Liberals Get a Pass

If there is one single thing that makes me angry in Obama America it is that the laws don't apply to liberals.

Let me be more specific.  When liberals themselves break the law they get special kid-glove treatment.  Think Timmy Geithner and his unpaid taxes back in 2009.  It's always nothing to see here, move along.

I remember the first liberal non-scandal that really annoyed me.  It was the Clinton Travel Office scandal in 1993.  The Clintons fired the head of the White House Travel Office, Billy Dale, on a trumped up charge, and nobody in the mainstream media blinked an eye.  Billy Dale was an institution, but the Clintons wanted the job for a crony.

But there is another side to this.  It is the passing of laws that don't get enforced on liberal clients.  Think welfare.  Think Earned Income Tax Credit.  Think voter ID.  Think illegal immigration.  Here's Edwin Meese, President Reagan's aide and Attorney General talking about the last time we had a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
The '86 reform bill also had supposedly "rigorous" border security and immigration law enforcement provisions. So how did that pan out? On the day Reagan signed "comprehensive" reform into law, only one thing changed: Millions of unlawful immigrants gained "legal" status. The promised crackdowns on security and enforcement never happened. Only amnesty prevailed.
Look.  I'm not naive.  I understand that illegal immigrants that want to stay are in a horrible situation.  And I understand that for Democrats the immigration issue is electoral gold, as it shows they care about Hispanics, and it provides a supply of future Democratic voters.   But there is the other side to this.  That high levels of immigration, legal and illegal, generate huge competition for low-wage jobs.  Does nobody care about the low-paid Americans and their needs unless it's giving them benefits and handouts.

But there's another side to this.  It's the over-enforcement of the laws where conservatives are concerned.

Now we learn that little Lois Lerner at the IRS was all over conservative groups applying for 501(c)4 status, making them jump through hoops that went way beyond the spirit of the law.  Now we read that the NSA is all over our cellphone "metadata." Now we are told that government terrorist training videos feature right-wing white militias, and that the FBI has been kept out of radical mosques, including the one attended by the Boston bombers.

Guess what's coming up next.  Under Obamacare there will be tax subsidies for people below a certain income, and it will be administered by the IRS on a claim now, check later basis.

There seems to be three systems of law in the United States.

There's the one that applies to the liberal elite.  For liberals, there's a pass.  Violate the law, and we'll go easy on you.  Don't worry about not paying taxes, about the head of the EPA hiding her operations with phony email IDs.  Don't worry about raising money from insurance companies to fund Obamacare roll-out if you are the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Don't worry about paying for documents in a FOIA application, if you are a liberal group.

There's the system that applies to liberal clients.  This system of law seems designed to encourage liberal clients to find a scam and feed off it.  Whether it's EBT, SS disability, EITC, voter registration.  There seems to be an established nod-nod-wink-wink culture that tolerates 20-30 percent of benefits going to ineligible beneficiaries.  Then there is the vast off-the-books economy that is partly driven by the enormous payroll taxes and partly driven by the huge illegal population.

Then there's the system that applies to the broad middle class and conservatives in particular.  Don't you dare cross the line, buddy!  Tarring and feathering as a racist, sexist, homophobe will be the least of your problems.

There is, of course, a word for this three-level system.  Injustice.  You'd think that somehow, some way, some conservative politician would have found a way to turn this injustice into electoral gold.  But it hasn't happened, not yet.

And I don't understand why not.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Can You Trust a Liberal?

Now that America's Aunt Peggy has weighed in on the subject of trust in government, we know that trust is a real issue -- and not just partisan bleating from conservatives and Republicans.

It curious that this is even an issue.  Trust government?  Come on!  Government is force, politics is division.  You should trust government as far as you can throw it.

But in practice we trust government when our guys are in charge.  And the whole thrust of partisan politics is to teach the moderates and the uncommitted voters not to trust the present government.

For liberals things are a bit different.  They have unbounded faith in their ability to create a world of peace and justice through government.

In the 2000s the Democrats did a superb job of teaching ordinary Americans not to trust George W. Bush and whipping Democrats into a partisan lather about Bush and his lies.

Please.  If you are a Republican president you dare not lie the way that a President Obama can lie, because if you do every liberal from the New York Times to the left-wing foundations and activist groups and liberal professors will eat your lunch.  That's why President Bush had to gussy up stuff on WMD before going into Iraq.  He put together some credible intelligence and sent Secretary Powell up to the UN to publicize it.  In the end, of course, it turned out that there were no WMDs in Iraq.  So Bush lied.

Back in the late 1960s the big question was the "credibility" of President Johnson on Vietnam.  He had been assuring everyone that things were going fine in Vietnam but we, the media, knew better.

President Obama's trust crisis is a bit different.  The scandals of the lasts six months have a different patina than the "Bush Lies!" era or LBJ's "credibility."  The Obama scandals show that Obama people will do anything to harass and intimidate the other side.  The setup is that Obama stigmatizes conservatives or Tea Party people or Fox News in his speeches as extremists or obstructionists and the media and the folks is the bureaucracy merely follow his rhetorical lead.  It doesn't hurt that their college professors years ago taught them that conservatives are wicked.

At this point, what difference does it make?

The point is that Rule One in politics is: Don't rile up the opposition.  That's probably why the winning side usually dials down the partisan heat after an election and says that we are all Americans and now we should pull together.  Then the winning side tries to structure its policy to get some of the opposition party to vote for their legislation.

The Obama scandals demonstrate to every non-liberal American that for the Obamis, the war never ends.  The Obama scandals demonstrate that the Obamis don't just use their own campaign assets in the political battle but the assets of the IRS.  This is not surprising, if you listen to the progressives.  In their world politics is everything.  The whole point of Alinsky's Rules for Radicals is never to let up on "them," ever.

Theoretically, this divisive strategy might work.  It might be that Democrats have forged a permanent political majority and they can afford to marginalize and harass conservatives without getting in political trouble.

But the fact is that President Obama got reelected in 2012 on fewer votes than 2008.  The popular vote in 2008 was 69.46 million to 59.93 million.  In 2012 it was 65.62 million to 60.88 million.  Imagine what could happen if Republicans were really motivated to vote and Democrats were no longer voting for the First Black President.

President Obama was elected on great wave of not mere trust, but faith.  By 2016 Democrats will have drawn down that well to the bitter dregs.

Then it will be anyone's game.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"A Conspiracy So Vast"

The last time that liberals got into real big-time trouble was back in the McCarthy era.

You see, liberals, being the fashionistas they are, had gotten tangled up in the big political fashion of the 1930s: communism.  They had joined the American Communist Party, many of them, or even done a bit of spying on the side.  See Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss.

So along came the young generation of politicians, WWII veterans like Richard Nixon (R-CA) and Joe McCarthy (R-WI) and made a little political hay out of it.

How Dare You!  That was the response of the liberals of the time.  You see, men like Nixon and McCarthy came from rather modest backgrounds and Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White came from the bluest of blue American blood.  A chap like Alger Hiss could never have betrayed his country!  And the very idea of believing a shambling accuser like Whittaker Chambers, darling.  Do you know where he grew up?  Brooklyn and Lynbrook, Long Island.

The beauty of it all was that after the whole thing had blown over and Sen. Joe McCarthy had left the Senate we were all taught to believe that the problem was McCarthyism and "guilt by association".  Why, do you know, those wascally Wepublicans were actually investigating the innocent political associations of good New Deal liberals.

It's true that Sen. McCarthy had used rather florid rhetoric in his campaigns against Communists in the State Department, and he could never get straight just how many Communists there were.  But hey, who expects a politician to be precise on his arithmetic or consistent in his rhetoric?  Certainly not President Obama!

The current liberal mess is not, of course, a conspiracy, any more than the liberal Communist spies of the 1930s and 1940s were a conspiracy.  No, it's been really worse than that, both times.

In the 1930s and 1940s liberals were getting their fingers burnt in the Communist Party because that's what "idealistic" young people did back then.  They all drank the KoolAid of the era, that World War I was the fault of the Merchants of Death and that capitalism was a dead letter -- when it wasn't exploiting the workers.  Why, their college teachers told them so!  (And KoolAid hadn't even been invented yet!)

Same thing today.  There isn't a conspiracy to deep-six conservatives and their political associations.  There doesn't need to be.  Nice young ladies like Lois Lerner don't have to be recruited into obstructing and harrassing conservative politicians and activists at the Federal Elections Commission and the IRS.  They were taught to "hate Republicans and everything they stand for" when they went to high school and latterly when their college professors railed against racists, sexists, homophobes, and anti-choice fascists.  They just know that conservatives are wicked.  Why do you think we have government schools?

And now we learn that the media is tied to the Obama administration by blood ties.  There are lots of media types married to people in the Obama administration.

The more I think of it, the more it feels like the years leading up to the French Revolution.  Budget problems?  Check.  Monetary instability?  Check.  Doofus head of state?  Check.  Exciting but foolish intellectual movements?  Check.  Mindless attitude of superiority in the ruling class? Check.  Laws do not apply to the ruling class?  Check.  Douceur de vivre (for the ruling class)? Check.

Will liberals manage to blame conservatives for the whole thing after the Revolution, like they did after the Communist spy era?  Who knows?  It all depends on how much cultural power they have left after the dust settles on the Great Obama Scandals.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dinner with Liberals

Suppose you were going out to dinner with a couple of liberal friends this evening.  How would you approach the delicate problem of the Obama scandals?

I've been thinking about this, as it's likely that I'll be dining with some liberal friends in the near future.  These friends are good, honorable people, but seldom stray far from the latest liberal talking points.  They are, of course, New York Times readers.

The first thing, obviously, is to forget the idea of scoring points.  That would just make them defensive.  But what should my line be?

I've decided that rather than get embarrassing confessions, I really want to know what they know.

Do they know about the Case of the Divorce Records?  How the the sealed divorce records of his primary and general election opponents in his 2004 US Senate race somehow got publicized?

Do they know about the Case of the Disappearing Opponents?  How the Obama campaign got all of his primary opponents for his first state senate race removed from the ballot?

What do they think of the Case of the Rogue IRS Agents?  Do they think the conservative Tea Party groups had it coming?  That the whole thing is a storm in a teacup over a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati?  Do they go so far as to embrace the loyal courtier argument, "who will rid my of this troublesome priest?"

And then there are the First Amendment issues, the bugging of the AP and the NSA data-mining.  I'm just interested to see where a couple of good loyal liberals come down on this.

Then there is the whole delicious question of trust in government, from the president's speech where he worries where it will all end if people stop trusting the government.  Where do they come down on trust?  Should we trust government in general?  The EPA?  The Pentagon?  Democratic administrations?  Republican administrations?  Inquiring minds would like to know.

Peter Berkowitz has a good piece that argues that we are getting what we paid for.  Nice middle class kids have been going off to college for a couple of generations and learning the straight liberal line.  The education has had measurable effects that we can see in the Obama scandals.
  • Benghazi is explainable by the postmodern notion that "Knowledge is socially constructed, and therefore the narrative is all."
  • In the IRS harassment scandal "the president was aided by the pervasive teaching on campuses that conservatism is wicked."  You know the deal: racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-choice fascist.  We can't let those people loose in the public square.
  • The AP leak investigation is explained by the hate speech culture.  "On campus, students learn that liberty of thought and discussion is a norm to which lip service must be paid but which must not be taken to heart because of the importance of stamping out disagreeable and dangerous speech."
So it makes complete sense that young educated Americans are putting their education into practice as they go into government and politics.

The delicious thing about the Obama scandals is that, while partisan liberals like my aforementioned liberal friends won't be mutinying any time soon, the fabled moderates and independents are very likely going to be up for grabs in the next two election cycles.

Put it in liberal-speak.  Those people that were open to the Bush-is-to-blame narrative are just as likely to believe an Obama-is-a-crook narrative.  Particularly if they have $100,000 in student debt and no real prospects of a decent career.

All in all, the Obama administration is proving to be everything that conservatives could want.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cut Any Program Ever?

Columnist Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Herald thought he'd have a bit of fun with the two candidates running for John Kerry's seat in the US Senate, Democrat Ed Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez.  He asked them if there was anything that the government shouldn't do: "Can you name a troubling social concern that does not require government action?"

You can guess the answer.  Both candidates ducked. "[N]either candidate identified a single issue that it is not government's place to solve."

I know, it's the First Commandment of Politics.  Don't say anything to make anyone mad.  Ever.

But it explains the difficulty of ever cutting any government program, ever.  Right now in Britland the Labour Party, the party of big government, is trying to do a dance over spending.  They are trying to sell the idea that they would be prudent with the people's money, while accusing the Tories of being mean spirited.

They are, of course, right to be careful.  The Canadian Liberal Party got scared in the mid 1990s and cut spending.  Look what happened to them.  The Conservatives got into power and the second biggest party is now the social-democratic NDP.

Really, a center-left political party cannot afford to do spending cuts.  Not now, not ever.  Because any big-government party that cuts spending is in danger of encouraging its replacement with another party that is more true to its social-democratic principles.

So if I were a Democrat I would refuse to cut spending.  Let the Republicans do the heavy lifting on that.  Let them cut spending, scoot grandma over a cliff, end Medicare as we know it.

You can say, if you like, that Democrats betray their "little people" by driving the government finances into the ditch.  But I don't agree.  From a political point of view, all Democrats ever have to do is "fight for the people against the powerful."  Anything that goes wrong, they can blame it on the Republicans, and their partisans will believe them, from the haut-liberal elite reading The New York Times to the union public schoolteacher to the homeboys in the 'hood.

But what about Republicans?  Should they cut?  Well, Ronald Reagan cut domestic spending in 2001 and lived to tell the tale.  And the Gingrich Congress, after being bested by President Clinton in the government shutdown of 1995, successfully implemented a stealth program of holding down increases in spending.

But, of course, we are coming to a moment when all the biggies are going to break: health care, Social Security, K-12 education, welfare.   In that bonfire, all kinds of things will get vaporized, including perhaps the "fifth party system" that has endured since the the 1932 presidential election.

As I like to say, it will be the "little people" served by the Democratic Party that will get hurt, with women and minorities hardest hit.

But they will still keep voting for those benefits.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Finally Good News on Jobs

The headline number on unemployment went up last month to 7.6 percent.  But it went up for a good reason.

Let's take a look at the BLS numbers.  The unemployment rate went up because the Civilian Labor Force went up faster than Employment.  That means that more people are entering the labor force.  That is very good news.

The Civilian Labor Force went up by 420,000.  The Employment level went up by 319,000.  That will make the overall unemployment rate go up.

However, all is not copacetic.  If you look at the Labor Force numbers, you see that it has merely recovered from a three month dip.  What we need to see is continued growth in the Labor Force.

The question for us gamblers and speculators is what this does to the Fed.  Does it mean that the Fed will now slow its money printing operations and return to normal interest rates?  Does that mean that the bull run in gold is over?   Gold was down a couple percent this morning.

My guess is that the Fed will start gradually returning to normal operations, but that as in the past it will be too little too late.  By the time that the Fed gets to a genuinely balanced monetary policy it will find that inflation is roaring, real assets are booming, and a credit crunch will be needed.  Then it will have to really put on the brakes.

Why does it always go like this?  It's because the Fed is a creature of the government, and it will almost always do what the government needs to keep paying its bills.  The Fed does not conduct monetary policy for the benefit of the American people.  It conducts it for the benefit of the US government.  Then there is the dual mandate, for the Fed to target prices and employment.  And then there is Keynesianism, which encourages inflationary money printing in a recession, well after the credit crisis has passed.

We aren't going to get a sensible monetary policy until the prestige of the current ruling class is utterly destroyed.

But meanwhile, we see a healthy uptick in the employment indicators, despite the headwinds of big government spending, big government regulation and the looming threat of Obamacare.  This is good.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Real Foreign Policy Reset

Conservatives seem to be in a tiff today about Benghazi Babe Susan Rice's appointment as National Security Advisor.  Meanwhile Charles Krauthammer opines that Republicans would have had a better chance of getting to the bottom of Benghazi if they'd let Rice's nomination as Secretary of State go forward.

But I don't think we should get too worked up about minor tactical issues.  President Obama wants an "America is the real problem" strategic retreat on foreign policy, and he ought to get it.  If he is wrong, deadly wrong, then Republicans will get to fix it, and the Democrats will get to be mistrusted on defense for another generation.

In truth the world is at a hinge point.  The strategic importance of the Middle East is about to decline as the fracking revolution comes on line, and the whole Arab culture is going to go through a gigantic revolution.  What about China?  Who knows?  Iran?

So the Obama policy of retreating from the world and contracting the defense establishment is really a status-quo policy.  We really don't know what else to do.  And if he retreats too far and contracts defense too much then it merely creates maneuver room for the next Republican administration.

The thing to remember is that government is always a complete mess, a record of failure after failure.  The heroic story of the British Empire was in fact a long series of blunders that usually got patched up and repaired just in time.

Our Democratic friends made a big deal about the mistakes and the blunders of the Bush administration.  But in the context of the time, it made sense.  We wanted to contain Iran and we did.

But what about the jihadi threat?  What about the surging Muslim immigrants to Europe?  Aren't they threatening to take over the world?

Well maybe, or maybe not.  The Islamic surge is a strongly divisive movement.  It is tribal in its structure and therefore probably self-limiting, just like fascism in its day.

If we accept the judgement of people like Max Weber the vital spark that powered the West to world hegemony was not its guns and its science but its transcending of mere tribalism.  Christianity, he wrote, taught city dwellers extend the boundaries of trust beyond blood kin.  It taught them personal responsibility.  It taught them to trust the stranger, or at least give him a fair chance to demonstrate trustworthiness.

Liberalism is going down because it contracts the boundaries of trust.  It urges us to trust foreigners and people barely off the farm.  And it tells us to mistrust businessmen and the ordinary middle class.  Instead it should be teaching women and minorities to emulate and admire the culture of business and the middle class.

Years ago the rulers of China and India decided to build their post-colonial regimes on the model they had learned at western universities, the socialist model.  They thought they were buying the latest, hottest thing.  It took them half a century to discover their mistake and switch their economies away from the dead hand of the administrative state.

Perhaps the Islamists are making a similar mistake.  They are practicing the white-hot politics of identity, just like their western liberal professors taught them.  It may take them half a century of bloody mistakes before they discover they have been had.

The only opportunity for a real reset on foreign policy -- and on domestic policy -- is after the liberal way gets exposed as a hopeless failure and a pathetic conceit of the present ruling class.

Then and only then will conservatives get a mandate to resume the western project of freedom, trust, responsibility, and prosperity.

But in the collapse of liberalism it will be minorities and women hardest hit.  As usual.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

McDermott: Tea Parties Asked For It

Dear Congressman McDermott:

I am writing to deplore your conduct at a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday, June 3, 2013.

As a US citizen and voter in Washington State's 7th District, I am ashamed of what I saw you do in your official capacity as my representative in the US House of Representives.

Look, I'm a conservative and you are a liberal institution here in liberal North Seattle.  But what you did on Monday shamed every First Amendment believing liberal in the nation.  Or it should have done, for any liberal that had, at last, any sense of decency.

Of course, the funny thing is that the gist of your remarks amounted to the idea that the Tea Party groups that applied for 401(c)4 status behaved like a woman that "asks" to be raped.

And we know what liberals think about that.  Blaming the victim is the least of the judgments that liberals make on people that suggest, even obliquely, that a woman asks for trouble when, e.g., she dresses "provocatively."  It shouldn't matter how a woman is dressed.  Rape is rape.  Right?

How provocative is it to put "Tea Party" in the name of your organization!  Talk about push-up bras!

By the way.  I see that in IRS Publication 557, 401(c)4 groups are titled "Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees."  What part of that is relevant to the notion that "if you didn’t come in and ask for this tax break, you never would have had a question asked of you"?

You see, Congressman, it matters a lot how an organization is registered with the government, and the Tea Partiers know it.  It's not just a question of tax-deductible contributions, or exemptions from income tax.  Tea Partiers know that you liberal chaps want to legislate lots of laws around the actions of corporations influencing elections, particularly corporations organized for the purpose of political education and persuasion.  In fact, I thought that you chaps want to overturn the Citizens United decision on corporate donations and electioneering.  Remember, Citizens United wasn't a grocery store that decided to get involved in changing the plastic bag law.  It was a corporation of concerned citizens that wanted to play in the public square on public issues.

So it is rather important for any "civic league" to make sure that it has ticked the right boxes with the government.  Otherwise the IRS or the FEC or the EPA or OSHA or ATF might come calling.  Golly, they did!  Especially since the folks at the Obama administration get really interested in the dotted "i"s and crossed "t"s of conservative organizations and conservative people when they get anywhere near public advocacy.  Hey, Lois!  How yer doin' babe?

Oh, I know what you were doing on Monday.  I understand completely.  You Dems are really worried about the air going out of the balloon of liberal enthusiasm.  With the IRS hearings droning on, day after day, and Jay Leno getting big applause on his IRS one-liners, you need to keep the liberal team pumped up.  You need to keep those liberal trolls going at full throttle down at Jen Rubin's blog.  And then there's the 2014 mid-terms.  So, who else do you ask to throw out the partisan red meat than good old Jim McDermott (D-WA-7), the guy representing the most liberal congressional district in the nation?  It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

So I understand the political imperatives, Congressman, and the imperatives of political tactics.

But let's look at the bigger picture, Jim.  Let's peer beyond the parameters of daily talking points and partisan political tactics.  Let's start the good old post-mortem.  What went wrong?  How come that we find ourselves railing away at the IRS and the Obama scandals, day after day?  Is there something beyond mere Republican opposition and mean-spirited extremism?

Yes, there is.  In fact there's a big lesson to be learned from the current mess that you Dems are in.

It's simple really.  The "rules" and "rights" are not there just to protect the weak from the powerful, as we all endlessly declare.  They are not there just so that a Mom and Pop Tea Party organization can get a fair shake from the IRS.  The "rules" are also there to protect the powerful from themselves.  They are an insurance policy against hubris in the ruling class.

Here's the deal.  Anyone with political power is tempted to use it.  Even abuse it.  Sometimes liberals abuse their power.  Imagine that!  So we Americans limit the power of government to limit the power of the rulers.

It's all very well to decide what's needed to make America better and then legislate a program to change it.  Anyone can do that.  Anyone can then sit in a government bureaucracy and issue regulations to force people to conform to the new law.  But what if you are wrong?  Suppose that you pass a law on health care and predict that it will lower insurance premiums.  And then, four years later it becomes clear that you were wrong, and that health insurance premiums will go up?  What then?  Do you have to have an election and elect new legislators?  A new president?  Suppose that a significant minority is deeply hurt by the legislation but that a majority of the voters refuse to modify the law to accommodate them?  What does that minority do, if it is, say, composed of undocumented workers? Or, alternatively if it is composed of people working for small businesses that will lose their health insurance?  Or gays?

The fatal flaw in liberal politics is that it assumes that liberals will always be the first to see and respond to social injustice.  But suppose liberals were blind on some issue?  Suppose they just didn't get it?  What do we do then?  Given the power that liberals have, how will the people get the government to listen to their grievances?

Well, it's obviously going to be more difficult for the people to get their voices heard when you Dems sicc the Lois Lerners of the IRS on them.  And in the bigger context, that's going to hurt liberals.  Because, in a word, you chaps have put the Lois Lerners in there to suppress dissent from your liberal agenda.  How do we know who is right?

That is what came over so clearly in your remarks on Monday, Congressman.  You told us all that you do not understand the possibility that you liberals might, just once, be wrong on something.

The Greeks had a god that took care of people like you, Congressman McDermott.  The name of the god was Nemesis.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Judging Obama with Burke

I was looking at the latest Edmund Burke biography at the Corner Bookstore in Manhattan yesterday.  Well I was attending an author event for my daughter Beatriz Williams' blockbuster new book, A Hundred Summers.  It's about the big 1938 hurricane that hit New England in the fall of 1938.  It's going to be big, very big.

Listening to a flock of liberals at the party, and in particular to one enthusiast that averred that President Obama would go down as a great president, it got me to thinking.

How does Obama stack up against Edmund Burke?

The first great effort of Edmund Burke was his twelve year effort to impeach Warren Hastings, the Governor of Bengal.  I remember learning about the affair in school, but not really getting it.

But in the Obama era, you can get it, completely.  The point of impeaching Warren Hastings was to open a new era in governance.  No longer was it OK for a ruler to plunder his subjects as the mood took him.  The ruler, in this case Britain's proconsul in its new Indian empire, could not simply farm his subjects, he had to obey the law, its letter and its spirit.  He could no longer act like a Spanish conquistador or a pirate and loot and plunder.  He had to be responsible and obey the law.  The Begums of Oudh.  You could look it up.

Compare with Obama and the IRS and Fast and Furious and Obamacare and the bureaucracy run amok and the recess appointments made when Congress isn't in recess.  It is clear that President Obama recognizes no limits to his authority except those of countervailing power.

The second great effort of Edmund Burke was his support for Catholic emancipation, to stop Britain ragging on the Catholics, particularly the Catholics in Ireland.  Nominally, Burke was Protestant, but there is reason to believe that he was a crypto-Catholic; his wife remained Catholic all her life.  Burke lost his seat in Parliament in Bristol over his support for Catholic emancipation and free trade with Ireland.  Thereafter he represented a pocket borough belonging to Lord Rockingham.

Compare with Obama and his use of the IRS to harass his conservative opponents.

Then we come to Burke and his opposition to the French Revolution.  His opposition is generally framed with his denunciation of "sophisters, economists, and calculators." This was an attack on the worship of Reason, then at the height of its prestige before the attacks of Romanticism began in earnest.  Burke argued that society could not be founded on reason, nor yet on the social contract theories of the 18th century.  Society was not an arbitrary or supposed contract between the living, but a much bigger contract.  It was a contract between the generations, between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are yet to be born.

Compare with Obama who is spending the country into bankruptcy.  Not to overdo it, we were already heading there, but President Obama certainly seems to be insistent that we should get there in a hurry.

The problem is, of course, that government is force, politics is division.  Liberals don't recognize this, don't understand it.  They are transfixed by the notion that they are transforming society from bad to good.  They do not get that it matters, profoundly, how society gets transformed.  The fatal flaw in the Obama method is that his vision is a vision of power.  The thing is to get to the progressive millennium, any way you can.

The whole point of Burke's philosophy is that reform or revolution by itself means nothing.  What matter is how you implement change.  Humans are social animals, not mechanical slaves.

We will soon learn to appreciate the sublime wisdom of Edmund Burke better.  Thanks to President Obama, the great.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Where Will This Corruption End?

Anyone that isn't a dyed-in-the-wool liberal must see that the Obama administration is the most corrupt administration in our lifetimes.  We are not just talking about the IRS, the Holder Justice Department, the Benghazi scandal.  Or even the latest news from Jeff Jacoby that welfare is rotten to the core.

Not even financial corruption that is the problem, although you can tell there is plenty of that.

It is the ideological blinders, the fact that liberals give themselves a pass to do whatever it takes to rid the world of evil: that is the problem.

Of course, back in the Watergate era, liberals were making similar jabs at the Nixon administration people.  They forget, of course, that Nixon was governing in the aftermath of the Sixties and there really were people planning revolution.  Eh, Bill Ayers?  Nixon almost had an excuse.  And just like the baby boom that came of age in the 1840s, the Sixties radicals were the children of the well-to-do.

The problem is what we generally call political correctness.  It is the corruption of the Frankfurt School's attempt to reform Marxism.  Postmodernism and the Frankfurt School have developed some transcendent ideas.  But in the hands of dull adepts and routine thinkers the tradition has developed into a secular religion that simply says progressives good, conservatives bad.  And progressives have licensed themselves to do anything needful to advance their agenda.  Of course they have.  Good must be made to triumph over evil.

The problem, of course, is that as progressives have defined their task as the fight of good over evil they have made themselves into a secular religion.  And because their politics is identical to their religion they have collapsed the separation between religion and state that is encoded in the First Amendment.

That is because progressives are too stupid, or too dishonest, to realize that what they think of as progressive politics is really a secular religion with a moral agenda, not just an ordinary political program.

In the modern secular religions politics and religion get collapsed into a totalitarian state.  That is what it means when you collapse the barriers and the separations between the three main power sectors in the culture, between religion and government and the economy.  You get all the power structures collapsed and added up into a single total.

And let's face it, our liberal friends really don't understand the meaning of any limits on their power.  Their ideas are necessary, their cause is right, and their opponents are racists, sexists, and homophobes.  Also anti-choice fascists.

Back in the days of Nixon liberals had a point that the presidency was turning into an "imperial presidency."  But now the liberals are turning the whole nation into a liberal mandarinate.

Because the idea is that liberals should be in charge and liberals should set the rules, and liberals should be exempt from the rules if needed to advance the liberal agenda of all that is progressive and diverse.

The problem is that the rules about the First Amendment are not just there to protect liberal journalists against Richard Nixon's myrmidons.  We like to think that the rules and the limits are there to protect the people.  But the rulers are always the rulers and the governed are always the governed.

Really, the whole apparatus that limits government power is there to protect the powerful from themselves.  It is to stop them from imagining that they are anything other than mere temporary custodians of the public trust.  And to stop them from thinking that some Big Push of government will do anything to improve society.

The way I look at it makes the complex understandable.  Humans are social animals, but government is force.  Thus the problem with government is to stop it and its forces from stamping out the living beating heart of society, the social cooperations and interactions, with its overweening force.

Think of it this way.  When you take a drug for chemotherapy you are ingesting a poison that you hope will kill the nasties without killing the rest of you.  It's a very tricky business, and is slowly getting better as scientists develop better drugs that target specific cells in the body while leaving others alone.

But government can never get that smart.  Government is just a blunt force that squelches everything in its path.  For over a century liberals have believed in a chimera that, with the help of large-minded people and intelligent experts, they can make government into a responsive, precision instrument.

We are about two-thirds of the way into the process at the end of which even liberals will come to realize that you can't do that.  Government is government; force is force.

The trick with government is the opposite of what liberals think.  It is to figure out new ways to replace government's blunt force with ingenious new ways of social cooperation.  We are talking about things like individualism, the market, credit, and the extension of trust beyond family and tribe.

Liberals don't get that, and they will pay for it.  Unfortunately, the rest of us are going to pay even more.