C.S. Lewis understood the Left very well, indeed

January 3, 2016

It’s hard to find a better description of  one of the key characteristics of the Left –from mild progressive to hard-core communist– than this:

Lewis on the Left

In other words, the Left believes it has figured out History, is certain that it flows in just one direction and where it ends, and that they themselves are the ones best able to facilitate this. Whether you want it or not.

Or, as I like to say, “God save me from those who want to save me.”

Via someone on Twitter, can’t recall who. smiley I dont know


(Video) How to insult progressives

July 12, 2015

According to Pat Condell, it’s easy: tell them the truth, especially if it’s politically incorrect.

Trigger Warning: Pat is an atheist, so he’s not shy about his opinion of all religions, not just Islam.


Brit Hume reduces progressivism to its essence in 30 seconds

November 16, 2014

Hume here is talking about Obamacare and the admissions by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber that deception played a key role in its passage — indeed, that deception was essential. But it isn’t just Obamacare; this attitude of patronizing condescension and even contempt (1) for the average American underlies all progressivism, and thus the governing assumptions of the Democratic Party.

Here’s Brit:

via The Right Scoop

Footnote:
(1) They’ll deny it hotly, of course, but that’s because the truth hurts.


The #Obamacare Chronicles: In which I agree with Howard Dean

November 12, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Now that is something you’ll rarely see, but, in this case, the former Vermont governor is right. When played the latest infamous quote in which one of the principle architects of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber, said that the stupidity of the American voter was essential to the law’s passage, Howie blew a gasket:

“The problem is not that he said it–the problem is that he thinks it,” Dean said. “The core problem under the damn law is it was put together by a bunch of elitists who don’t fundamentally understand the American people. That’s what the problem is.”

[MSNBC’s Mika] Brzezinski cringed after repeating Gruber’s quote.

“Jesus!” Dean exclaimed after hearing that one of Obama’s key health care advisers would call the lack of transparency “critical” in passing the massively unpopular law.

All I can say, Governor, is “YEEEAAAAGGHHH!!!”

Dean is right, of course, but what he misses is that an elitist contempt for the average voter is central to the progressive mindset. Whether it’s Woodrow Wilson arguing that society is far too complicated to be administered by anything but boards of technocrats, or Barack Obama condescending to unenlightened voters who “cling to their guns and religion,” progressivism is inherently elitist. A law like the Affordable Care Act was passed the way it was not only because the American people would reject it if they knew what was in it, but because the progressives and their Leftist allies know what’s best for the American people, regardless of what the people think.

In his anger, Howard Dean took a large step closer to a truth about his side. Someday, he may realize the problem isn’t just the people, but the philosophy motivating them.

Visit the Free Beacon for the entertaining video.

RELATED: At Hot Air, Allahpundit reports that Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) thinks hearings should be held soon on Gruber’s comments. Go for it.


Thanks to progressivism, we’ve lost the “War on Poverty”

August 1, 2014
"Defeat"

“Defeat”

The War on Poverty was launched in 1964 under Lyndon Johnson with the best of intentions: through massive spending and extensive welfare programs, the government would eradicate poverty in America and make people self-sufficient. Like I said, a worthy goal.

It has also been an utter failure. In 1964 we declared war on poverty, and poverty won.

As the chart above shows, poverty was in deep, rapid decline in America after World War II without any government help, just the natural processes of a growing, prosperous economy. It looked well on its way to elimination, perhaps. Then, in the mid to late-60s, it leveled off and, save for an occasional bump up, has stayed right around fifteen percent.What happened?

In 1964, with the start of the War on Poverty, progressives and other economically illiterate do-gooders wound up trapping people in poverty, rather than helping them out of it. As Robert Rector at The Signal writes:

Johnson did not intend to put more Americans on the dole (1). Instead, he explicitly sought to reduce the future need for welfare by making lower-income Americans productive and self-sufficient.

By this standard, the War on Poverty has been a catastrophic failure. After spending more than $20 trillion on Johnson’s war, many Americans are less capable of self-support than when the war began. This lack of progress is, in a major part, due to the welfare system itself. Welfare breaks down the habits and norms that lead to self-reliance, especially those of marriage and work. It thereby generates a pattern of increasing inter-generational dependence. The welfare state is self-perpetuating: By undermining productive social norms, welfare creates a need for even greater assistance in the future. Reforms should focus on these programs’ incentive structure to point the way toward self-sufficiency. One step is communicating that the poverty rate is better understood as self-sufficiency rate—that is, we should measure how many Americans can take care of themselves and their families.

Emphasis added.

What was it Ronald Reagan said?

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”

One would think that, faced with all the mounds of evidence that government programs don’t lift people out of poverty, Progressives, who claim to be devoted to “progress,” would see the war on poverty has been a failure and that the programs should be reformed or discontinued and something else tried, something like less government intervention.

But, no. Few ever will be that honest, because to say government failed to reorder society as desired would be to admit that the central tenet of progressivism, a faith in the power of technocrats to manage a vastly complex society, was wrong.

Meanwhile, that core 15% remains trapped in poverty, addicted to government “crack” and walking a road paved with good intentions.

PS: Note the sharp climb back up to 15% at the end of that chart. It starts soon after the Democrats take over Congress in 2006 and undo the 1990s Clinton-Gingrich welfare reform, then accelerates under Obama. Coincidence? I think not.

RELATED: Cato economist Dan Mitchell has often written on the same topic. Here’s a post he wrote on the failures of the War on Poverty and another on the “redistribution trap.” That latter is must-reading.

Footnote:
(1) Many criticize that assertion, with some justification. See for example Kevin Williamson’s “The Dependency Agenda.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Justice Ginsburg: “Don’t use the US Constitution as a model”

February 4, 2012

Old and outdated?

Pardon me, but …ahem… WTF??

Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, on which she sits to rule on constitutional matters, gave an interview to Al Hayat TV on the revolutions overtaking the Arab world and the prospects for democracy. (Video here.) She starts off fine:

Let me say first that a constitution, as important as it is, will mean nothing unless the people are yearning for liberty and freedom. If the people don’t care, then the best constitution in the world won’t make any difference. So the spirit of liberty has to be in the population, and then the constitution – first, it should safeguard basic fundamental human rights, like our First Amendment, the right to speak freely, and to publish freely, without the government as a censor.

Can’t argue one bit with any of that. If there’s one thing fundamental to genuine democratic rule (and one reason why Sharia-based societies can never be truly democratic), it’s the guarantee of freedom of speech.

But then she runs off the rails and into WTF-land:

You should certainly be aided by all the constitution-writing that has gone one since the end of World War II. I would not look to the US constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary… It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. Much more recent than the US constitution – Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It dates from 1982. You would almost certainly look at the European Convention on Human Rights. Yes, why not take advantage of what there is elsewhere in the world?

“But, for God’s sake, don’t use only the most successful governing document in Earth’s history. It’s so… old!”

I wonder if she and Ezra Klein are related?

Now, to be fair, there is a “this wasn’t a stupid thing for a SCOTUS Justice to say at all” argument. It runs something like this:

The Constitution of the United States arose under conditions unique to the time and place in which it was written, and to the people who wrote it. The traditions of British Common Law and Whiggery with its limitations on the power of government and protection for the  rights of the individual; the Classical examples of Greek democracy and the Roman Republic, which the Founders knew by heart; the Judeo-Christian traditions that separated government from God; and the Enlightenment, which applied reason to government. Thus all Justice Ginsburg is saying is that this mix was unique to 18th century America, and that the new Arab governments should look to examples reflecting more current conditions.

But I don’t buy it.

When she refers to a “charter of rights,” I have to wonder if she’s ever heard of this little thing called the Bill of Rights. It secures the political rights of the people (free speech, free assembly, the right to a jury trial and habeas corpus) and their rights to their own property. (1) Beyond that, it leaves the people to take care of themselves as free citizens.

In that lies the problem, I suspect, for Justice Ginsburg: the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are negative charters. They grant limited powers to the general government and largely circumscribe what it may do, restricting it to those things necessary to the general welfare.

All else is left to the people and the states.

And I suspect that bugs the heck out of progressive liberals, such as Justice Ginsburg. They want government to do more for the people, because the world is too complex and just too difficult for people to take care of themselves:

This isn’t a new phenomenon by any means. It’s old, going back to the roots of American progressivism in the 19th century, what we now call, incorrectly, “liberalism.” It’s fundamental thesis is that the modern world is too complex for a governing system designed in the 18th century for a rural, isolated republic; that legislatures were too fractious and trapped by partisan interest to do what was best; and that these complexities were best handed off to boards of experts and technocrats who could make the correct decisions with scientific dispassion — Orszag’s “depoliticized commissions.” Woodrow Wilson crystallized this contempt for democratic governance when, before becoming president, he argued in essence that the Constitution was obsolete. (See also Goldberg’s excellent “Liberal Fascism.”)

Politically, it’s represented in modern times by FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights” and its modern promoter, Cass Sunstein, as well as the idea of the “Living Constitution” — a document that “evolves” with changing times and needs. Justice Ginsburg would be its judicial exemplar.

Take a look at a portion of one of the documents she praises, the South African Bill of Rights. It speaks not only of political and property rights, but health care, housing, the environment, and linguistic and community rights. That is, welfare state-style economic and social rights, far beyond what we understand as “unalienable rights.” I suspect that she would love to see the courts in the US step in to provide those economic and social rights when the legislatures fail to do so, acting themselves as a sort-of legislature.

But, to get back to Justice Ginsburg’s assertion that the US Constitution is not a good model for new Arab governments, I’d say quite the opposite. The danger in societies under Sharia is repression and the loss of individual rights, especially if one is a woman or a non-Muslim — or both. Sharia is totalitarian, governing every aspect of daily life, and its adherents are a threat to the liberties of others wherever they gain control of government.

And even if not Sharia-based, Arab governments have shown themselves far too willing interfere in their economies in the name of “fairness” (and to keep control for themselves), with results that have ranged from mediocrity to outright wreckage.

Hence what is needed and what new Arab governments should look to, if they want to guarantee liberty and prosperity, are precisely those governing philosophies and documents that limit the power and reach of government.

Gee, something like the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. (2)

It’s a shame that a Justice of the United States Supreme Court doesn’t understand that.

via David Freddoso, Phillip A. Klein, and Weasel Zippers

RELATED: Justice Ginsburg, eugenicist?

LINKS: More at The American Spectator and Hot Air.

Footnotes:
(1) Yeah, I know these have been eroded to one degree or another, here, especially after Kelo. Bear with me.
(2) No slight meant to South African or Canadian readers, though Canada is a bit dodgy from a US point-of-view on free speech.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Can we call them “Socialists” yet?

January 19, 2012

Harking back to some of the worst excesses of the New Deal, six Democratic members of the House lead by Denis Kucinich (D-UFO) and all but one members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, have proposed an additional tax on oil companies to be levied when profits rise above “a reasonable level”:

The Democrats, worried about higher gas prices, want to set up a board that would apply a “windfall profit tax” as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, according to their legislation. The bill provides no specific guidance for how the board would determine what constitutes a reasonable profit.

The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784 (PDF), would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding “a reasonable profit.” It would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms. Unlike other bills setting up advisory boards, the Reasonable Profits Board would not be made up of any nominees from Congress.

The bill would also seem to exclude industry representatives from the board, as it says members “shall have no financial interests in any of the businesses for which reasonable profits are determined by the Board.”

And, of course, “reasonable” would be in the eye of the beholder: in this case, appointees of Barack Obama, renowned class warrior and Socialist. What could go wrong?

Of course, this isn’t about the economic ignorance of the members sponsoring the bill; they’re leftist Democrats, progressives. It’s practically an unwritten law that you have to give up any understanding of basic economics to join that club. The idea that these profits can be returned to shareholders, including pension funds and individual middle-class Americans, many on retirement, via dividends and capital gains is immaterial. And don’t even think of suggesting that these oh so unreasonable profits could be used to expand the business or explore for more oil —or both!— thus creating jobs.

Like I said, to join the club, you have to forswear any economic common sense.

No, this bill, which will never pass the House or even get out of committee, is nothing more than an election year appeal to the worst of Americans populist instincts: class warfare, punishing those “evil” oil companies, and looking for a scapegoat for high gas prices rather than understanding the Law of Supply and Demand. Oh, and already-high federal, state, and local taxes.

It’s all about pandering to people’s frustrations, so they won’t blame the real cause: the radical and against-all-reason natural resources policies of the Democrats and their environmentalist allies that keep us from developing the vast resources we have.

It’s the political equivalent of “Look! It’s Elvis!”

But, let us not forget, it’s also about control and power. These are, after all, progressives, social democrats. Some are full-blown Socialists. It’s their belief that only government can fairly (in their definition, again) distribute wealth. They may not be Marxist, and are thus willing to allow the shareholders to still own their companies, but government has first call on “your” money, to do with what it will. You can keep whatever they decide is reasonable.

Which is why I put “your” in quotes.

In their world, you are not a free citizen with unalienable rights, but a dependent who must wait to see how much of what you earn government will let you keep.

So, while this bill may be a bit of populist red meat that will never pass, it has a very real and very pernicious-to-liberty philosophy behind it.

And it’s another example why the Democrats should never win another election again.

via Jammie Wearing Fool

RELATED: Pirate’s Cove has suggestions for other “reasonable boards.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The anti-democratic Democrats

September 28, 2011

Governor Bev Perdue (D-NC) said the most amazing thing yesterday:

Speaking to a Cary Rotary Club today, N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue suggested suspending Congressional elections for two years so that Congress can focus on economic recovery and not the next election.

I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that,” Perdue said. “You want people who don’t worry about the next election.”

The comment — which came during a discussion of the economy — perked more than a few ears. It’s unclear whether Perdue, a Democrat, is serious — but her tone was level and she asked others to support her on the idea.

(via Big Government)

Forget for a moment the odd spectacle of a state’s chief executive suggesting that elections be called off at all –something that’s never been done, even during the Civil War and World War II, the two greatest threats to our national existence, ever– the terms of the House and Senate are specified in Article I, Sections 2 and 3 of the the Constitution; before those terms expire, elections must be held. By suggesting elections for Congress be suspended and the term of Congress be extended in defiance of Article I, Governor Perdue was suggesting suspending the United States Constitution, itself.

Naturally, Governor Perdue’s people tried to pull her foot out of her mouth by claiming she was joking and engaging in hyperbole, as reported by my blog-buddy, ST.

Whatever. Whether she meant it as a joke or a serious suggestion, it is a sentiment that should never, ever be uttered by any elected official, because elections are the sole source of legitimacy for a democratic government. To call off elections and extend the term of Congress in defiance of the Constitution would be to destroy utterly that legitimacy. Perdue’s suggestion, joking or not, was madness; I wouldn’t at all blame the North Carolina legislature if it voted to censure her or even consider impeachment. A governor who can so cavalierly suggest doing away with elections is unworthy to hold office.

But Governor Perdue’s Kinsleyan gaffe is really representative of a larger problem within the Democratic Party, a problem with democracy, itself. In this case, I’m not talking about contempt for free speech shown by the 2008 Obama campaign or by the president after taking office, part of what Michael Barone has dubbed the “thugocracy.”

No, the problem is more fundamental and it dominates the thinking of those who are its leaders — they are Democrats who don’t like democracy. It’s messy and it keeps them from doing the things they want to do that they know are best for us. Consider, for example, President Obama’s first Budget Director, Peter Orszag:

To solve the serious problems facing our country, we need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.

(…)

Virtually all responsible economists agree that we should be aiming to reduce the deficit in the long-term but not in the short-term. We need an even larger deficit in 2011 and 2012, to support a weak economy—but a much smaller deficit in 2020 and 2050, to put the nation back on a sustainable fiscal course. Yet our polarized political system has proved incapable of reaching a consensus on this common-sense approach.

What we need, then, are ways around our politicians. The first would be to expand automatic stabilizers—those tax and spending provisions that automatically expand when the economy weakens, thereby cushioning the blow, and automatically contract as the economy recovers, thereby helping to reduce the deficit.

Or how about President Obama, who lamented having to deal with Congress and a political process and wished he could go around it:

“As I mentioned when I was at La Raza a few weeks back, I wish I had a magic wand and could make [immigration reform and the DREAM Act] all happen on my own,” Obama told a meeting of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “There are times where — until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again — I’d like to work my way around Congress.”

Maybe Governor Perdue was auditioning to replace Biden on the ticket in 2012?

These aren’t the only instances where we’ve seen impatience, frustration, and even contempt for the democratic process coming from Democratic Party leaders. We’ve encountered it in the reaction to the rise of the Tea Party — a loose populist coalition calling for less power for the federal government, more fiscal responsibility, and adherence to the Constitution as written — implying that they’re fascists (1) and un-American, simply for exercising their right to free speech to peacefully oppose a policy proposal. Here in California, where Democratic Party dominance is nearly total, then-Assembly Speaker and now Congresswoman Karen Bass referred to people making their opinions known to their legislators and promising to hold them accountable for their votes as “terrorists.”

This isn’t a new phenomenon by any means. It’s old, going back to the roots of American progressivism in the 19th century, what we now call, incorrectly, “liberalism.” It’s fundamental thesis is that the modern world is too complex for a governing system designed in the 18th century for a rural, isolated republic; that legislatures were too fractious and trapped by partisan interest to do what was best; and that these complexities were best handed off to boards of experts and technocrats who could make the correct decisions with scientific dispassion — Orszag’s “depoliticized commissions.” Woodrow Wilson crystallized this contempt for democratic governance when, before becoming president, he argued in essence that the Constitution was obsolete. (See also Goldberg’s excellent “Liberal Fascism.”)

While initially a bipartisan fad (I’m sorry to say TR, one of my favorite presidents, was a progressive), progressivism and its preference for bureaucratic technocracy over constitutional democracy has become the bailiwick of the Democratic Party. Sometimes it was muted, as under Truman or Carter, sometimes it roared loud and proud, as under FDR, LBJ, and Obama. And the impatience with democracy, usually hidden behind the standard vocabulary of American politics, becomes open when progressives encounter opposition and don’t get what they want. Then we hear the cries of “Washington is broken” and how the nation is “ungovernable.” No longer given their way as the natural governing party (unlike from 1933-1981), Democrats look more and more to activist courts or to bureaucratic fiat — “working my way around Congress” — to get what they cannot achieve through an uncooperative electorate.

To put it bluntly, the elite core of the Democratic Party –its leadership, not the rank and file average voter– is anti-democratic.

Which is why we must defeat them in every election we can, until they either reform or go the way of the Whigs.

LINKS: Ed Morrissey calls Governor Perdue’s comedy act a total bust.

Footnote:
(1) An almost Orwellian misuse of the word on their part.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bill Whittle: progressivism, unions, and the end of the beginning

March 6, 2011

The protests by public unions in Wisconsin and elsewhere against any reform of unsustainable benefits and bargaining practices has been likened by some to the death-struggle of a dying order: union membership in private-sector unions has been declining for decades; these days, the majority of union members are government employees. Their furious, unhinged, and thuggish assaults against any who would dare take away their “rights” are like the efforts of a buggy-whip manufacturer to stay in business after the coming of the automobile — a refusal to admit that times have changed, and they are now obsolete.

Bill Whittle looks at these public-union demonstrations and sees in them the visible sign of the end of progressivism, which arose as America adapted to the new industrial age of the later 19th century and fought against the corruption and the crony capitalism of the time. And, in the process, moved away from the vision our Founders had for this nation.

But now, as America transitions from the centralized, hierarchical industrial age to the decentralized, democratic digital age, Bill argues that the progressive vision –rule by boards of bureaucrats who know better than you how to run your life– is becoming an anachronism in what he calls the “third age of Man.” Indeed, they’ve turned into that which they fought against.

As always, agree or disagree, Bill provides much food for thought:

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The Constitution is just too confusing!

December 30, 2010

Well, it is for Ezra Klein, one of the Washington Post’s bloggers. You see, it’s over 100 years old and the language is just too confusing:

Click the image to watch.

Newsbusters provides a transcript. Here’s the relevant part:

[MSNBC HOSTESS NORAH] O’DONNELL: You heard all the different politicians talking about the Constitution. Well, this is what’s going to happen. When Republicans take over next week, they’re going to do something that apparently has never been done in the 221-year history of the House of Representatives. They are going to read the Constitution aloud. Is this a gimmick?

KLEIN: Yes, it’s a gimmick. [Laughs] I mean, you can say two things about it. One, is that it has no binding power on anything. And two, the issue of the Constitution is not that people don’t read the text and think they’re following. The issue of the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending on what they want to get done. So, I wouldn’t expect to much coming out of this.

Ezra, dude, let me help. You have this thing called a “brain” and access to a wonderful process called “reason.” If you use them, then many confusing things, such as the basic governing document of the United States, actually become comprehensible. Try it some time; you might be surprised at the results.

Okay, snark aside, his argument is just plain silly. Sure, language changes over time and words develop new definitions. Changing usages of punctuation can shift meaning. But it’s not as if the Constitution exists in a vacuum, without any context. Nor has English changed so much from 1787 that our poor brains can’t parse it. (Just curious, Ezra: do you have problems with Shakespeare, too? I mean his plays are over 400 years old…)

See, Ezra, we have these marvelous resources available to help us understand what was meant way back then: the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers present us with the arguments of both sides for and against the ratification of the Constitution, and they went on at great length about what the words meant. (In fact, our Bill of Rights was produced largely as a compromise with the Anti-Federalists, who were gathering momentum to call a second Constitutional Convention to fix what they saw as problems with the core document.)

If those aren’t enough, we also have state constitutions from the time, showing us how already existing governments understood their roles and power, and the records of the debates in state conventions prior to their ratification votes. And we also have Supreme Court decisions from the early republic showing us how learned men much closer to the Founding interpreted the Constitution. Okay, so maybe their language will confuse you, too. I can but point the way.

Sure, there are are vague patches in the Constitution: the “necessary and proper” clause forces us to think about the nature and scope of government, and what is necessary to its operation. The “general welfare” and “commerce” clauses have been badly misinterpreted over the years (largely by progressive judges). But it’s not as if we’re left with nothing to do but throw up our hands and say it’s so confusing that it makes our brains hurt. We can use the resources available to figure out those vague parts — you know, reason.

Honestly, what Klein is saying, and what his fellow progressives have been saying for over 100 years, is that government is simply too difficult, too complex, too confusing for the common folk, and that we need experts to guide us and make decisions for us. They know what’s best, so stop fussing over a centuries-old and obsolete piece of parchment.

But that’s the beauty of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights: so short that any citizen can carry it in his breast pocket and plain enough that most parts are readily understood, while those that aren’t can be reasoned through. That’s one of the things that empowers the citizen, that he can check the owner’s manual when he likes to see how things should be done. Your vision of a Constitution that’s too confusing for the modern day instead turns citizens into subjects dependent on the dispensations of the elite.

The Constitution is a challenge, Ezra; it is not confusing.

LINKS: Klein explains himself on the confusing Constitution and Republican gimmicks.

UPDATE: Iowahawk skewers Klein on the lance of satire. At Liberty Pundits, Dr. Melissa Clouthier lays bare what Klein and his fellow progressives really want.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Meet the living incarnation of the Nanny State

December 14, 2010

No, it’s not Barack Obama or Michael Bloomberg, though they’re both worthy choices. And, in Obama’s case, you’re close; the Great American Nanny Award for best exemplifying the need to mind everyone else’s business goes to his wife, Michelle Obama, for this quote:

“Childhood obesity isn’t just a public health threat, it’s not just an economic threat, it’s a national security threat as well…. We can’t just leave it up to the parents.”

Get that parents? You’re not only a priori incompetent to raise your children, but you’re a danger to the nation, too! Good thing the State is here to save us from ourselves.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have this unaccountable urge to read Brave New World again, followed by Liberal Fascism.

LINK: More from Fausta.

(via Jennifer Rubin)


And speaking of “elitism,” guess what the President said?

October 17, 2010

President Obama captured the elitist mindset perfectly with this one statement:

“Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we’re hardwired not to always think clearly when we’re scared,” Obama said Saturday evening in remarks at a small Democratic fundraiser Saturday evening. “And the country’s scared.”

Sigh. This is one his most self-revealing statements since the “bitter clingers” moment in the Democratic primaries in 2008. In Obamaland, it isn’t possible to oppose his policies because one has come to a reasoned conclusion that they’re wrongheaded, bad for the country, and just plain won’t work. It can’t be because one has a different vision for the role of government, its relation to the people, and the best way to bring prosperity to as many as possible. It can’t be because you believe (correctly) that the Constitution is a document that limits government and gives it specific powers because unrestrained government is a threat to both liberty and prosperity.

Nope, it’s because you’re irrational and scared.

If I’m scared, Mr. President, it’s because of a very rational rejection of the poor policy choices you’ve made both domestically and in foreign affairs, and a revulsion at the direction you want to take this nation. It is based very much on “facts and science and arguments,” unlike your “stimulus” program that was nothing but a pork-fest, or your climate-change agenda that’s based on junk-science. It’s because of a feckless national security policy that has only served to make the world a more dangerous place by making us weak and pusillanimous, encouraging our rivals and enemies.

I may have disagreed with George W. Bush on many things, but at least –at the minimum– I knew he didn’t hold the  people he lead in a patronizing contempt.

I’m not a religious person, but God save me from my self-anointed betters.

PS. Bill Whittle is right.

UPDATE: Byron York has a very good column on this today.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


What we believe: conservatism and the Tea Party

October 9, 2010

Bill Whittle has long been one of my favorite PJTV commentators; his video essays are incisive, uncompromising, and closely reasoned, all done in sincere, good-natured, and polite style. He’s not a firebreather; he doesn’t have to be, because he knows what he’s talking about.

Bill has a new video on his own YouTube channel (ht: Hot Air) in which he provides a clear, simple statement of the essential tenets of American conservatism: a belief in limited government and free enterprise. It’s well-worth the ten minutes of your time to watch:

While I think “classical liberal” is more accurate than “conservative,” that’s an argument over terminology that just isn’t all that important these days. What truly is important is the message: limited government versus the all-powerful state and individual liberty versus tyranny. Whittle introduces our side of the argument beautifully, and I’d like to see this video posted widely across the blogosphere.

And I dare any progressive to post as simple, clear, and honest an explanation of their beliefs in response. No emotional appeals to being “for the children” allowed.

It would be illuminating.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) I want your money!

September 2, 2010

From (oddly enough) IWantYourMoney.net, a trailer for their forthcoming documentary on government spending and the role of the federal government. Trust me, it’s much more entertaining than it sounds:

From the movie’s description:

Set against the backdrop of today’s headline – 67% of Americans don’t approve of Obama’s economic policies, the film takes a provocative look at our deeply depressed economy using the words and actions of Presidents Reagan and Obama and shows the marked contrast between Reaganomics and Obamanomics.

The film contrasts two views of the role that the federal government should play in our daily lives using the words and actions of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.

Two versions of the American dream now stand in sharp contrast. One views the money you earned as yours and best allocated by you; the other believes that the elite in Washington know how to best allocate your wealth.

One champions the traditional American dream, which has played out millions of times through generations of Americans, of improving one’s lot in life and even daring to dream and build big.

The other holds that there is no end to the “good” the government can do by taking and spending other peoples’ money in an ever-burgeoning list of programs. The documentary film I Want Your Money exposes the high cost in lost freedom and in lost opportunity to support a Leviathan-like bureaucratic state.

The movie releases October 15th, just in time for midterms. Quite the coincidence, that.

I’ll be looking for it.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Hillary Clinton: the rich don’t pay their fair share

May 30, 2010

ReasonTV’s Nick Gillespie looks at the hard facts behind the Secretary of State’s assertion and reminds us that the definition of “fair” depends on your point of view:

UPDATE/RELATED: At Big Government, Thomas del Beccaro writes about a debate between Larry Kudlow, Stephen Moore, and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich about fairness and the proper level of taxation.


Quote of the day

April 20, 2010

Roger Kimball on Humor vs. Contempt: Obama and the Question of Character.

Nowadays you find tea partiers accused of racism, violence, and disloyalty, never mind that the left-liberal establishment can point to no examples of these torts. The thing to grasp is that those making the accusations do not feel called upon to offer examples. The guilt of the tea-partiers transcends anything so pedestrian as actual behavior. Tea partiers are like “class enemies” under Stalin: guilty by definition.


California can have jobs or high taxes, not both

April 12, 2010

From Reason.TV, a look at how California’s high-tax, no-cuts regime is costing the state jobs and driving businesses and residents elsewhere. The focus is on one business, Creator’s Syndicate, that may well leave not only because of high costs imposed by the state, but because the City of Los Angeles has lowered itself to legal theft to raise money:

Money quote from a consultant who specializes in business relocations:

“I would love to have companies calling me saying, ‘We’d like to move to California, can you help us with that relocation?’ I get none of those calls,” says business relocation coach Joe Vranich. “The calls I do get are, ‘Hello, we want to move out of California, can you help us do that?’”

Argh.  Doh


Henry Waxman and the knowledge problem

April 5, 2010

Let’s get past the obvious, first: Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) is a statist thug. He’s upset that corporations have begun reporting the very real costs they’ll incur under ObamaCare, even though they’re required to do so by law, so he’s scheduled show trials hearings at which to chastise them. After all, health-care reform was supposed to bring only good to America, wasn’t it?

Trouble is, as Glenn Reynolds points out, would-be statists like Waxman always run up against a brick wall: there’s too much information for them to process efficiently in order to run a command economy, so they regularly face surprises like the corporate announcements. Call it the knowledge problem:

Economist Friedrich Hayek explained in 1945 why centrally controlled “command economies” were doomed to waste, inefficiency, and collapse: Insufficient knowledge. He won a Nobel Prize. But it turns out he was righter than he knew.

In his “The Use of Knowledge In Society,” Hayek explained that information about supply and demand, scarcity and abundance, wants and needs exists in no single place in any economy. The economy is simply too large and complicated for such information to be gathered together.

Any economic planner who attempts to do so will wind up hopelessly uninformed and behind the times, reacting to economic changes in a clumsy, too-late fashion and then being forced to react again to fix the problems that the previous mistakes created, leading to new problems, and so on.

Market mechanisms, like pricing, do a better job than planners because they incorporate what everyone knows indirectly through signals like price, without central planning.

Thus, no matter how deceptively simple and appealing command economy programs are, they are sure to trip up their operators, because the operators can’t possibly be smart enough to make them work.

In this case, Waxman and his progressive-statist allies didn’t realize that imposing vast new regulations would trip other regulations that forced the revelation of information harmful to their political position – and perhaps their political careers. As Reynolds points out, there’s a silver lining in this: as Waxman, Pelosi, and Obama keep trying to create a command economy, they’ll step on more and more of these mines because they can never have all the information they need. These will serve as regular reminders to the people that government that’s too big simply can’t do the job and should be shrunk down to size.

The dark cloud behind that silver lining, however, is that getting there is likely to be painful.

FURTHERMORE: Dan Riehl discusses the mainstream media’s role in abetting the Waxmans of the world:

When news broke of ATT and others promptly announcing write downs after ObamaCare passed, only the Wall Street Journal shed much light on what was really taking place. And they only did that several graphs down. Most mass media outlets simply let the narrative stand that, government passed a law to help the little guy, now big business Republicans have hit back by citing earnings woes, yadda, yadda. Whether due to rushing, bias, or simple incompetence, as the story played out across America, the mainstream media did less to inform the country, than they did to inflame it, while feeding into whatever one’s preconceived notions might have already been.

It’s going to be hard to expose the knowledge problem unless the major media, on which most of the public depends, starts doing its job and stops being a facilitator.

LINKS: More at Hot Air.


First casualties of ObamaCare

March 23, 2010

Kiss off 1600 jobs, thanks to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

The people at Zoll Medical Corporation saw a ray of hope in January when Scott Brown was elected senator from Massachusetts. Located in Chelmsford, 30 miles outside Boston, Zoll is the nation’s leading manufacturer of heart defibrillators, which save thousands of heart attack victims each year. Back in January, as the Senate race was raging, both House and Senate Democrats wanted to impose a crippling new tax on the makers of medical devices, Zoll included, to help pay for Obamacare.

The total tax on the industry would be about $2 billion a year, or $20 billion over the next decade. Companies watched nervously as lawmakers pushed ahead, first the House and then the Senate. But then Brown was elected on the promise to be the crucial Republican vote to stop health care reform. For Zoll, things were looking up.

Not anymore. The bill passed by the House Sunday night contains a particularly damaging version of the $20 billion hit for the medical device industry, meaning Zoll and other medical device makers could well be headed for hard times.

“We believe that the tax will cost us somewhere between $5 million and $10 million a year,” says Richard Packer, Zoll’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Our profit in 2009 was $9.5 million.”

That would be a devastating blow. Zoll employs about 1,800 people. Roughly 1,600 of them are in the United States, and about 650 of those are in Massachusetts. Once the new tax kicks in, that could all change. “We can’t run this company at a break-even or a negative rate,” says Packer, “so we will be forced to look at alternatives.”

Alternatives such as shipping those jobs overseas, passing on higher costs to customers, or just going out of business because the new taxes make staying in business more trouble than it’s worth.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: raising taxes in a recession is one of the worst things a government can do and is guaranteed to choke off the job-creating energy of any recovery. Zoll is just the first drop of a coming unemployment storm, as businesses all rethink their hiring and even the country within which they do business. The Progressives’ fanatical desire to remake us into a European social democracy will also have the result of giving (lower) levels of growth and (higher) levels of long-term unemployment, and all for a health-care reform that will not do a damned thing they promised.

Genius. Sheer frakking genius.


If even Sweden doesn’t want to be like Sweden…

March 12, 2010

Why then are President Obama and his progressive statist allies trying to force the social-democratic model that Sweden embodies down our throats? A Swedish economist with the Center for Freedom and Prosperity explains how Sweden became prosperous, how it wrecked that prosperity, and what it is doing to regain it:

I’m tempted to write something like “President Obama, take note,” but The Won really isn’t interested; like all good statists, he knows what’s best for the rest of us, whether we like it or not.

(via Dan Mitchell)