Paying it forward is a third-party beneficiary concept that involves doing something good for someone in response to a good deed done on your behalf or a gift you received. When you pay it forward, however, you don’t repay the person who did something nice for you. Instead, you do something nice for someone else. For example, if someone changes your tire while you are stranded on the highway, you might shovel your elderly neighbor’s walkway after snow has fallen.
So how’s that working out in the real world?
Ridiculously wealthy Atherton, the neighborhood for an Obama fundraiser last year, thinks that it helped create “shovel ready jobs.”
Last Sunday, multi-million dollar homes in Atherton had offensive graffiti sprayed on them. The graffiti was found on walls, fences and even a car.
Many of the messages said “F*** the 1%.”
Via the Washington Free Beacon:
A Florida restaurant is being forced to pass their healthcare expenses onto customers.
Sandra Clark, Director of Operations at Gator’s Dockside, told WRDQ that the restaurant is now adding a one percent surcharge to every customer’s bill to help pay for all 500 full time employees’ healthcare.
“Affordable healthcare is part of the cost of doing business. We’re definitely doing it [adding the surcharge] to stay afloat…,” she explained.
The restaurant group expects to pay up to $500,000 a year for its workers’ healthcare, but it does not expect to come close to recouping that recovering that.
Republique, a trendy, expensive restaurant in Los Angeles is now charging an extra 3% Obamacare surcharge on every bill. Bill Chait, one of the owners, is certain that his customers will be fine with the price increase.
I’ve written before about Mark Steyn’s epic battle and equally epic Answer and Counterclaim in the suit that discredited “Hockey Stick” artiste, Michael Mann filed against him and the National Review. What I forgot to tell you is that there is a way you can help Mark Steyn, who is not sharing his defense with National Review, pay the costs of this suit. (Steyn’s currently representing himself, although I do not know whether he parted ways with his lawyer because they had a substantive disagreement or because Steyn could no longer afford him/her.)
Click here to learn about buying a Mark Steyn gift certificate. You can choose not to redeem the gift certificate, leaving all the money in his hands, or you can redeem it for actual merchandise, which still leaves him with the profit margin. It’s a good deal all around.
Kevin Williamson has a brilliant article about modern feminism. I won’t summarize it. I’ll just urge you to read it.
I’ve called myself a small “l” libertarian, to distinguish myself from the Ron Paul crowd. Richard A. Epstein has given me an even better name for my political view, one that recognizes the need for government, but that always hews to individual and marketplace freedom: I’m a “classical liberal.”
Back in October, I wrote about one of my children’s classmates at high school. This kid is handsome, athletic, and extremely popular. He also made disparaging remarks about Obamacare and illegal aliens without getting push-back from either students or teachers. Such is the power of popularity.
That kid’s at it again. For his English class, he wrote an essay calling out anthropogenic climate change as a hoax. I wonder whether his popularity will be sufficient to survive this dissident act, both socially and academically.
The young man’s brave stance got me thinking about the whole notion of unfalsifiable theories. As I explained to my own children, the normal way science works is that, if all your hypotheses prove to be false, you’ve established that your underlying theory is wrong. Only in the world of climate change do a series of failed predictions and hypotheses serve as proof that your underlying theory isn’t merely true, it’s even more true!
Since I had climate change on the brain, when my daughter later pointed out that our little mutt, who had curled up in her lap, had buried his nose in her armpit, I exclaimed, “That’s because of climate change.”
Having said that, it occurred to me that it may be time to resurrect a college game with a twist. Back in the day, whenever friends and I dined at a Chinese restaurant, when we opened the cookies and read aloud our fortunes, we’d add the phrase “in bed.” So, for example, a fortune that said “You will meet an interesting stranger” would be read as “You will meet an interesting stranger in bed.” It was juvenile, but funny.
Nowadays, a variation of the game would be to response to any observation by saying, “that’s because of global warming (or climate change).” So, someone might say, “Look, there’s a hawk circling your yard.” And your answer would be “That’s because of climate change.”
“The furniture delivery man is running late.” “That’s because of climate change.”
“My hair looks terrible today.” “That’s because of climate change.”
“Does this dress make me look fat?” “Honey, thanks to climate change, everything looks fat.”
Peter Beinart is in agony, because he’s a terrible father. Why is he such a terrible father? Because he allows his son to watch pro football with him. By doing so, says Beinart, he lends his imprimatur to something that’s really no different from a Roman gladiator contest, with the loser gladiator executed or eaten by lions at the end:
Last Saturday night, he [Beinart's 8-year-old son] proudly dug out a long-unused Patriots jersey and joined me on the couch late into the night as the Patriots dispatched the Indianapolis Colts.
It was wonderful. And it made me a little sick.
It made me sick because I could see the game through his eyes. And it wasn’t pretty. My son, unfamiliar with the NFL’s pieties, assumed that hurting the other team’s players was the goal. To his untutored eye, the violence that guilt-ridden fans like myself decry was a feature, not a bug. He didn’t cheer the injuries; he’s too sweet for that. But despite my insistence to the contrary, I suspect the message he took from the experience was: The only thing you need to know about the large man writhing in agony on the screen is whether he’s on our team.
Mr. Beinart, if the takeaway lesson from football that you’re teaching your son is “let’s cheer when men get hurt,” the problem isn’t with the game, it’s with you. You are indeed a failure as a father because you, with all your fine words and liberal anguish, were completely incapable of teaching your son the good lessons that football — especially pro-football — teaches.
Thankfully, I’m not you. After having watched six hours of football yesterday, I had a very different takeaway message for my adolescent son: You can learn a lot from these guys. The reason I enjoy watching the game is because there’s something thrilling about men giving 110% to what they’re doing. I never watch an NFL game and think, “Gee, that quarterback is slacking off.” Or “That tight end’s doing nothing out there.” Anybody can be taught technique, but it’s up to each individual to bring passion, self-discipline, drive, energy, and courage to whatever he does. Those guys who make it to the NFL — and especially the guys who make it to the playoffs — are the best of the best, not just at the sport of football, but at the art of being a man.
Watch a pro game, not for the game aspect, but in a more abstract way, just seeing the men as bodies in motion. Every man on the field gives his all. These guys use their bodies as missiles, battering rams, walls, whatever. They are the quintessence of dedicated manliness without weapons. It’s hard on the body (although the media is making up numbers as it goes about the risks associated with the game) so these guys are appropriately well-compensated. That’s okay. It’s a known risk that they willingly take for a tangible financial reward.
In an increasingly feminized world, pro football is one of the last bastions of unabashed manliness. In classrooms all over America, boys are forced to sit still and read books about their feelings (where once they were at least allowed to read stories of war and heroism and adventure). In school yards all over America, girls and boys — but especially boys — are told not to compete, not to run, not to throw, not to hit . . . heck, not to engage in any of the familiar rituals (at all times, in all cultures) that young boys do as they move toward manliness. Rather than celebrating and cultivating manly virtues (bravery, loyalty, honor, strength), we routinely tell boys that, unless they imitate girls, they are without virtue. Their natural instincts are defined as fundamentally bad.
And then there’s football. I’m always amazed and impressed when I see a player run, spin, and leap, eluding attackers and, quite often, still running with at least one person attached to his leg. My lizard brain is telling me, “If this guy was my mate, and I was being chased by anything from an enraged mammoth, to a Nazi, to a Taliban, this is the guy who would be there for me. Pajama Boy would be screaming and weeping and begging for mercy, but this football player would lay his life down for me . . . after first inflicting some serious injury on the other guy (or mammoth).”
Yes, these guys can be as violent off the field as they are on. The fact, though, that their violent acts make headlines tells us that, for most of them, they can turn off the violence just fine. After all, these incidents make news because their rare, not because they’re ordinary. In any event, I suspect that their random acts of violence have more to do with their upbringing than their football career.
Men should be allowed to be men. I’d much rather have my guy get his instincts out in the culturally-sanctioned, structured environment of the football field, rather than spending his day pretending to be Pajama Boy, only to come home frustrated and angry. For better or worse, we humans are animals. The healthiest society is that which gives a controlled outlet for our animal instincts, than one that forces people to deny entirely that those instincts exist.
I want you to play a little game with me. Imagine that you’re an archivist, going through Nazi-era German documents. While doing that review, you stumble across the following article, published in a reputable Nazi business magazine:
The next time you hear someone dispute that Aryans are the superior race, remember this pie chart.
It represents eugencist Helmut Scheingarner’s review of 2,258 peer-reviewed scientific articles about Aryan superiority, written by 9,136 authors, published between Nov. 12, 1937 and December 31, 1938.
Of all those hundreds of papers and thousands of researchers, Scheingarner found one article, authored by a single scientist, that challenged Aryan superiority: “The Unusual Intellectual Aptitude of Hebrew People,” by J. K. Grubenman, appearing in the Luxeumbourg Science Journal, Vol. 10, No. 1.
Scheingarnder, a past president of Berlin and Hamburg Univerities, invites anyone to reproduce his survey of the science:
Anyone can repeat as much of the new study as they wish — all of it if they like. I will give you a database with the 2,258 articles here. It includes the title and document number for each article. Scan the titles to identify articles that might reject Aryan superiority. Then, I will work with you to locate the article and review it. If you find any candidates that I missed, please mail me at Aryan Superiority Division, Reichstag, Berlin.
Scheingarner’s earlier survey of peer-reviewed studies published between January 1, 1933 and November 11, 1937 yielded the same results.
Within seconds of seeing that first, big chart and reading only a sentence or two of the article, you’d immediately recognize the fatal flaw in its reasoning. To the extent that Aryan supremacy was the prevailing orthodoxy in Nazi Germany, anyone advancing opposing views would be subject to professional ostracism or worse. With the scientific journals completely controlled by people who couldn’t imagine a paradigm other than Aryan supremacy, the likelihood of scientific journals publishing countervailing articles hovered at zero.
Knowing that, you’d also realize that the frequency of articles subscribing to Aryan supremacy in no way proved that this “scientific” doctrine had merit. Instead, as you’d fully understand, the notion of Aryan supremacy represented the closing of the German scientific mind. Nazi journals would inevitably refuse to accept anything challenging the white supremacist doctrine. For a supremacist to point to the number of such published articles would therefore be meaningless.
As you’ve probably figured out by now, the above article did not come from Nazi Germany and did not involve Aryan supremacy. Instead, it’s a Business Insider article “proving” that all scientists in the world support anthropogenic warming. I changed the name of the scientist proudly boasting about his find, his university affiliations, and the article dates, and I substituted “Aryan supremacy” for “anthropogenic climate change.” Otherwise, the two articles are identical.
What the proud scientist failed to note are some even more compelling facts: (1) At least 31,400 scientists around the world have stood up and declared that they do not believe in anthropogenic climate change (here’s a list of some of the better known skeptics); and (2) Climategate revealed not just that climate change advocates were manipulating numbers but, more significantly, that they were blocking anyone with opposing views from getting published.
The mantra justifying this closed door is “expert consensus.” Let me state something very important here: An expert consensus is not a fact. Experts used to think the sun revolved around the earth (wrong), that bad air caused disease (wrong), that spicy food and stress caused ulcers (wrong), that autistic people are mentally retarded because their mothers didn’t love them (oh, so wrong), etc. Experts are wrong all the time.
Oh, I almost forgot: Here’s the real kicker — contrary to those cute little pie charts, there are peer-reviewed journals that challenge climate change orthodoxy, and that’s true despite the significant barriers in place denying publication to climate change skeptics.
In other words, the gloating Business Insider pie charts are exactly as false as that imaginary Nazi article would have been. Both are the work of ideologues masquerading as scientists, who use fundamentally flawed analyses to deny that any valid opposition exists.
UPDATE: This article, about science’s (or, more accurately, scientists’) failure nowadays to be self-correcting seems apropos.
NPR didn’t mean to offer a perfect example of how an unfalsifiable, infallible theory works. It’s stated goal was to have people better understand what a polar vortex is. However, when it chose to interview “Andrew Freedman, senior science writer for Climate Central, an independent non-profit organization that researches and reports on the science and impact of climate change,” Mr. Freedman, true to his climate change beliefs, came up with a good one.
Before I get to Mr. Freedman’s words, let me make sure we’re all on the same page about an unfalsifiable, infallible theory. Mike McDaniel has an easy-to-understand, elegantly stated explanation. An unfalsifiable theory “requires no proof, for like religious dogma, it is rooted in faith. One either believes or not; proof is not necessary and opposing proof may therefore be disregarded. Such beliefs are, in the language of science, non-falsifiable.” Non-falsifiable theories do not stand alone. Because they cannot be proved wrong they are, by definition, infallible. Like God, they are what they are, with no actual explanations required.
With that in mind, please enjoy Mr. Freedman’s response to the NPR interviewer’s question about the current polar vortex and climate change:
GREENE: I mean, is climate change playing some sort of role here in the cold we’re seeing this week?
FREEDMAN: We actually have these possible connections between the Arctic – which is warming rapidly, and which is losing sea ice – and these perturbations, these shifts in the jet stream over North America and over Europe. And many scientists are convinced that there’s enough circumstantial evidence to potentially convince a jury that there is this link, and that the weather patterns are becoming more and more suspicious as being influenced by human activities. But the physical connections, the actual smoking gun that would link Arctic warming to weather patterns that we see right now – like this one – isn’t quite there yet. It hasn’t quite been proven. So whether or not it would convince a jury of scientific peers in this case is unclear. And I think in the next few years, we’ll know a lot more. But certainly, climate change is influencing every weather pattern that occurs today, in some ways large and small.
Without all the unnecessary prevarication, what Mr. Freedman said is “We have no actual evidence that anthropogenic global warming has anything to do with this. That doesn’t worry us, though, because our operating, unchallengeable baseline is that anthropogenic global warming (which we now call “climate change” so as to be more encompassing) is behind every weather phenomenon that has ever happened since we decided that there’s something called anthropogenic global war. . . . er, climate change.” This is unsurprising. Mr. Freedman’s paycheck comes from an “independent non-profit organization that researches and reports on the science and impact of climate change.” No climate change means no non-profit organization, which means Mr. Freedman and his cohorts are out of a job.
Just to demonstrate further that Mr. Freedman is operating within a closed, unfalsifiable system, let’s scoot over to Time Magazine for a minute. As Ed Driscoll reports (in a post beautifully titled Time Magazine Swings Both Ways), the United States experienced a whopper of a polar vortex in 1974. Back then, Time breathlessly informed its readers that the problem was global cooling and that we trembled on the verge of another ice age. This time around, of course, the pathetic shadow that was the once might Time, now reports equally breathlessly that global warming caused the big chill.
Faith is a wonderful — and dangerous — thing.
A liberal friend who despairs of my decision to turn my back on the Democrat Party and declare myself a conservative, sent me an article from Salon. In it, the author smugly explains that he was a life-long libertarian, went to a Ron Paul convention, saw that a lot of the people there were conspiracy theorists, and then joined the Democrat Party.
Here’s the gist of it: the guy grew up in Nevada, in a town that valued guns. He was told that he was a libertarian, so he was. Without showing any actual understanding of the principle’s behind small government and individual freedom, he liked that Ron Paul libertarians want to make pot legal and hate Wars for Oil. In 2008, he went to a Ron Paul convention and was shocked that people there espoused conspiracy views (which Ron Paul followers are famous for doing) and believed that welfare is a bad thing. Then, when the financial meltdown happened in 2008, he opposed the bank bailout (which libertarians opposed), but approved of greatly increasing the welfare state (something libertarians also opposed). Oh, and he “wept with joy” when Obama was inaugurated. As for the Tea Partiers, they were “monsters” who made him want to “puke.” You see, there are “racists” amongst the Tea Partiers, as well as 9/11 conspiracy theorists and Birthers. He then went to a Progressive college to get a degree in creative writing and married a liberal Canadian. And then, pretty much badda-boom, badda-bing, there he was, a happy Democrat.
What this guy utterly fails to see is that he started out with hard-core Leftist ideology — free pot, no War for Oil, don’t give money to evil bankers, government is the solution, Tea Partiers are racist, Obama is a God who causes tears of joy — but by an accident of birth, ended up thinking he was a libertarian. Then, when he figured out that he was a moonbat, he headed for his real political party. It’s not so much a case of conversion as of mistaken identity. “You mean I’m not really Lord Ambrose Wafflepoof-Chilteningham? I am, instead, plain old Comrade John Brown? At last, the world makes sense!”
As for his attacks against the Ron Paul group, I have to agree that I don’t like Ron Paul or his followers either. Their isolationism (which the proto-Democrat convert loved) is dangerous, and their affinity for neo-Nazis and other immoral, bad actors is awful. Paul is too dumb to realize that the neo-Nazis are statists who hide in his Libertarian enclave because they believe it’s the best incubator for people too dumb to realize that the libertarian’s totally laissez faire attitude to everything allows evil to grow as well as good.
The two main problems with the guy’s post are that he (a) never understood true conservativism and (b) conflates Ron Paul libertarians with conservatives. Conservatives embrace constitutional government, not no government. Most conservatives are not conspiracy theorists, although the Birther meme is out there — in part because Obama has withheld evidence (birth certificates and transcripts), either to stir up conspiracy controversy (“Hey, look! I can make my dog crazy by hiding his bone”) or because there really is something to hide (I believe he might be hiding a pretense that he was a foreign national to help him get college admission/aid).
If you want serious conspiracy mavens, look Left. That’s where the Truthers live, that’s were the antisemites who subscribe to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion live, and that’s where the people who focus obsessively on the Koch brothers live. The fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Koch brothers did anything more than fund the Heartland Institute is irrelevant:
Funnily enough, all these Lefties never seem that exercised about George Soros’ funding of just about everything to the Left, which is as much an exercise of free speech as is the Koch’s funding of the Heartland Institute.
Another conspiracy meme on the Left, one that helped propel Obama back into the White House in 2012 was the spurious war on women. The Left convinced credulous women and metrosexuals that a vote for Romney was a vote to put women barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, as forced sex-slaves to slobbering, fat, white Bible-toting Christian males. (In other words, The Handmaid’s Tale.) That this dark vision had no reality outside the pages of a bad 1980s feminist novel is irrelevant.
And of course, there’s the “Tea Party is racist” meme that the guy, studying at his Progressive university, totally accepted. He seems unaware that Andrew Breitbart’s $100,000 reward for anyone spotting racism at an Obamacare protest is still out there, unclaimed. If you want racism, look Left.
The guy who wrote the Salon article was never a conservative. He was always a hardcore, big state Leftist who had accidentally wandered into the wrong party. His little post isn’t an indictment of conservativism. It is, instead, a confession of his own lack of self-awareness and facile embrace of the party of the moment.
We got solar panels several years ago. We did so (a) because certain members of our household are greenies and (b) because we got huge government subsidies. These subsidies weren’t enough to make the panels affordable for working class households, but they were funded, in part, by those same working class households. In other words, the working class helped me — the economic upper class — buy something they’ll never be able to afford.
Thanks to the solar panels, we only pay energy bills twice a year. The rest of the year, although we never get paid a cent, at least our energy bills are a wash. At this rate, in ten years, the solar panels will have come close to paying for the money we shelled out for them. (The working class, obviously, will never see a dime’s return on the money they unwittingly gave me.) Even as some people gloat about their low or non-existent energy bills after installing solar, I’m thinking we’re still out-of-pocket for another “X” years before the damn thing breaks even.
Did I say “damn thing” about those wonderful solar panels? Yes, I did. I hate them. It turns out that the only way to realize a saving on them that’s significant enough to offset their cost over a period of ten years is to use electricity only during “non-peak” hours, which are the hours when the sun doesn’t shine. That means that, on weekdays during the seven spring and summer months of the year, I can’t run the dishwasher, turn on the washing machine, use the dryer, or engage in any other significant electricity usage unless I want my energy bill to go through the roof.
When we signed up, I thought, “Whatever.” I wish I’d thought harder. It turns out that my housekeeping doesn’t conform to the solar timetable. I work at home and, for years, I’ve been accustomed to turning the dishwasher on when it’s full or putting clothes in the dryer once the washer has done its stuff. Now, though, my counter is always cluttered with dirty dishes, because the solar window doesn’t match when our dishes get dirty, so I invariably have more dishes on the counter than I can deal with at the particular moment I’m allowed to run a load. More times than I can count, because the dishwasher is packed too full, or because things have dried on in the 14 hours during which the system was “down”, or because my dishwasher detergent has no phosphates, nothing is clean, so I run a second load. I’m sure that’s not green.
As for the washing machine, I try run a load in the morning like a good girl. By evening, after dealing with household matters until ten or eleven at night, I’ve completely forgotten that I ran a load 16 hours before and that the stuff needs to go in the dryer. Even if I remember, quite often I need to monitor that dryer load so I can recover items that can’t be in for too long, which is not something I want to do at 11:00 p.m. On a good hot summer’s day, by the next morning the wet laundry will have started to mildew, so I get to wash it again. And no, that’s not green either.
On weekends and during the five winter months, the only peak time is between five and eight in the evening. That means that certain people go ballistic when I cook dinner using the oven.
If I were a more organized person, I’m sure this would work out splendidly. But I’m not a more organized person. Or rather, I’m not organized around peak and non-peak time. My household biorhythms are different and, proving that I’m not at all adaptable, despite six or seven years with this damn solar power, I still haven’t gotten the knack of bending my household to the solar clock.
Why this jeremiad about solar power? Because American Thinker ran an article today about the scam powering solar power — it’s incredibly costly and is affordable only when we hide costs, riding on the backs of the working class.
First story: Even as they’re trapped in impenetrable summer ice in the Antarctic, global warming fanatics insist that sea ice is disappearing. A 1912 video reveals that it’s disappeared before, and that it undoubtedly will again — only not this year.
Second story: The San Francisco Bay is cleaner than it’s been since the Gold Rush days. Yay, right? No. More sunlight penetrating the water has resulted in damaging algae growth. Whoops.
Third story: Another environmental success story has resulted in more sharks sharing beach waters with people. I wonder how many people will hang onto their environmental chops when every local beach looks like a set for Jaws.
Two stories today about internecine warfare on the Left:
I am gleefully wallowing in schadenfreude.
For a decade, those liberals who know that I think that anthropogenic global warming is a scam that was invented to make some people very rich (AlBore, is that you?), even while it transfers vast sums of wealth from the First World to the Third World, have called me some pretty nasty things: ignorant, flat-earther, climate denier, stupid, etc.
That’s why I really love articles such as this one, by Michael Fumento, which neatly sum up why I was right and my critics were wrong.
Incidentally, I’ll add my usual caveat: I believe that humans are stewards of the earth, both for those plants and animals sharing the planet with us and for future generations of humans. We have a responsibility to encourage, not destroy, its bounty and its beauty. But I do not like being brow-beaten by Leftists into believing that we are facing imminent apocalypse unless I give up all trappings of 21st century life and ship my money to Leftist organizations or redistribute it to fulfill Leftist utopian goals. Nor do I like seeing my children on the receiving end of an un-ending stream of Leftist propaganda, all of it wrapped up in a global warming package.
One of the things that drives me bonkers-nutso about the green movement is the way that it subsidizes rich people when they make “green” purchases. I dislike subsidies generally, because they’re a form of wealth redistribution. But I really dislike it when government takes taxpayer money and hands it over to the very wealthy so that they can buy themselves an electric sports car, such as the Tesla.* I know that the rich pay the largest percent of taxes in America, but the non-rich middle and working classes are paying some taxes too, and they shouldn’t be subsidizing luxury automobiles simply because they’re “green.” (And I’ve mentioned before that their “green” claims are dubious, since they rely on electricity generated through dirty means at far-away plants. It seems to me that all they do is move pollution, not decrease it. And let’s not even talk about the toxic batteries….)
In a perverse way, therefore, it makes sense for the broken and broke California government to play around with the idea of giving free green cars to poor people. After all, since the shrinking middle class is already paying for rich people’s “green” playthings, why shouldn’t they pay for poor people’s cars too? Each increasingly poverty-stricken middle class taxpayer can take pride in the greening of California and can only hope that he goes broke (and therefore qualifies for a free green car) before all the other taxpayers go broke too.
The worst part is that the “green” subsidy, which currently benefits rich folks, is all part of a giant con to prevent an apocalyptic event that’s not going to happen. If anything, we should be hoping that the increasingly ephemeral, even illusory, greenhouse effect really does kick in, because we’re hosed if there’s another ice age. Water and sunlight — both of which are plentiful during warming periods — are good for all living things. Barren, frozen wildernesses are not.
*These green subsidies also fund the solar panels you see on rich people’s houses. Indeed, they fund everything green that the rich can afford without subsidies and that the poor can’t afford even with subsidies.
Charles Krauthammer gets to the heart of the matter:
The violence to constitutional norms here [with the filibuster's destruction] consisted in how that change was executed. By brute force — a near party-line vote of 52-48. This was a disgraceful violation of more than two centuries of precedent. If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules. Senate rules today are whatever the majority decides they are that morning.
What distinguishes an institution from a flash mob is that its rules endure. They can be changed, of course. But only by significant supermajorities. That’s why constitutional changes require two-thirds of both houses plus three-quarters of the states. If we could make constitutional changes by majority vote, there would be no Constitution.
As of today, the Senate effectively has no rules. Congratulations, Harry Reid. Finally, something you will be remembered for.
Read it all. I doubt you’ll find a better exposition of the profound damage the Obama administration is doing to the Constitution and to America.
Harry Reid has just succeeded in doing what Franklin Roosevelt couldn’t do: he’s going to pack the court. Yes, Roosevelt was aiming for the Supreme Court, while Reid’s only going after the district and appellate courts, but the reality is that we’re seeing incrementalism. Today, the lower level courts; tomorrow, the minority in the Senate becomes utterly powerless.
Daniel Horowitz recommends a hyper-nuclear retaliation:
There is one simple thing Republicans can do to retaliate. They can start by ending the Democrat super-majority on legislative issues. They can easily pledge to filibuster every piece of legislation and deny all requests for unanimous consent until the rules change is overturned.
How would Harry Reid respond to a complete shutdown of the Senate? Would he abolish the filibuster even for legislation? Let him try. But for now, he has nothing to fear from just eliminating the filibuster on judges because he knows Republicans will not retaliate. Reid knows that there is not a single issue where McCain, Corker, Graham, and Alexander will now withhold support simply because they were stiffed with the nuclear option.
On his show today, Rush recommended the Senate equivalent of a sit-down strike: he said that Republican senators should refuse to vote on anything that the Democrat majority brings to the Senate floor. ending even the pretense of bipartisanship. It also means that one party will own every piece of legislation, for better or worse. There’s a certain purity to that.
Of course, both Horowitz and Rush know that the McCains and Grahams of the Senate are constitutionally incapable of withholding the hand of love and friendship from Harry Reid and his bomb dropping pals. So, the ideas are cute, but unworkable.
There are others who think that Republicans shouldn’t be too worried, because Reid’s hypocritical destruction of a minority voice in the Senate will hurt the Democrats more in the long-term than help them. Ezra Klein, who’s a partisan hack, but not an idiot, recognizes that Reid may unwittingly have delivered a Trojan Horse to his own party:
There’s a lot of upside for Republicans in how this went down. It came at a time when Republicans control the House and are likely to do so for the duration of President Obama’s second term, so the weakening of the filibuster will have no effect on the legislation Democrats can pass. The electoral map, the demographics of midterm elections, and the political problems bedeviling Democrats make it very likely that Mitch McConnell will be majority leader come 2015 and then he will be able to take advantage of a weakened filibuster. And, finally, if and when Republicans recapture the White House and decide to do away with the filibuster altogether, Democrats won’t have much of an argument when they try to stop them….
William Jacobson thinks Klein is on to something. As he sees it, the filibuster actually worked against conservatives, because it locked in incremental socialism. For the past several decades, once Democrats got a redistributionist, nanny-state policy in place, nothing could dislodge it, an effect he calls “the rachet.” By going nuclear, says, JacobsonReid opened the door to the complete reversal of Democrat policies. When Republicans get their turn at the majority in Congress and take the White House (which many assume will happen at the end of Obama’s reign), they will easily be able to reverse every bad Democrat policy, something that was always impossible before:
Decades of negative and destructive policies can be reversed with a bare majority. Obamacare can be repealed with a bare majority. True Conservative Judges will not be banished due to a filibuster threat.
Yes, it’s true that the absence of a filibuster could accelerate the destructive policies. That fear is justified, particularly as to the judiciary. But face it, we were headed there anyway unless drastic action was taken.
That drastic action took place yesterday. By Democrats.
Now at least we have a chance to achieve previously unimaginable progress in a single presidential term if we also have bare majorities in Congress and a President with the willpower. It will take only one such term.
The ratchet has been broken. And opportunity created, even if dependent upon future electoral success.
It’s now up to us to seize the opportunity.
Jacobson’s last sentence, however, encapsulates why I do not share his optimism: “It’s now up to us to seize the opportunity.” “Us” happens to be Republican politicians. I think we’re all in agreement that, as I’ve repeatedly said, Republicans have good ideas but bad politicians. As the song goes, “If there’s a wrong way say it, And a right way to play it, Nobody does it like me; If there’s a wrong way to do it, A right way to screw it up, ha, Nobody does it like me.” That song could easily be the GOP anthem, and they rush from failure to failure without Shirley Bassey’s charm and style:
Here’s the conservative reality in the 2014 and 2016 elections, and that’s even assuming GOP nominees win: The GOP’s all-out warfare against the Tea Party, which seeks constitutional government, tells you that the guys in the Senate have no interest in rocking the boat. Moreover, open primaries in states such as California mean that the likelihood of having a principled conservative even take a stand against the Democrat Senate monopoly is not just close to zero, but actually zero.
Also, we’re not looking at Reid having this Senate majority just through the 2014 elections. First, the numbers game indicates that Democrats may continue to hold the Senate by the one vote even in 2014. Moreover, even if Republicans get a majority, it’s impossible for them to get the type of majority that will survive an Obama veto. This means that Democrats have three years to play around with unopposed power. The damage they can do is incalculable and quite possibly irreversible.
If you’re more optimistic than I am, though, and actually think, as Jacobson does, that the GOP has a prayer of not screwing things up, you may be asking why in the world Harry Reid would deliver this Trojan Horse to his party. James Taranto thinks he has the answer:
In his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” which we quoted in May, psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains the idea of loss aversion:
When directly compared or weighted against each other, losses loom larger than gains. This asymmetry between the power of positive and negative expectations or experiences has an evolutionary history. Organisms that treat threats as more urgent than opportunities have a better chance to survive and reproduce.
That insight is the basis of prospect theory, which posits that people will take bigger risks in the hope of minimizing a loss than in the hope of maximizing a gain. The psychological impact of the loss itself clouds one’s thinking about the risks of magnifying the loss. That explains why the Democrats went nuclear just as the perils of doing so multiplied.
Taranto and Jacobson could both be correct, but I will continue to believe until proven otherwise that the Republicans will take this theoretically golden opportunity and destroy it, because that’s what elected Republican officials do.
One of my pet peeves is bullying. I’m not talking about bullying amongst students, although I certainly don’t like that. I’m talking about the bullying from school districts and Progressive parents who work overtime to ensure that children are brainwashed into fearing self-defense so much that they would rather be led as lambs to the slaughter than stand up for themselves. The schools are dividing students into two classes: the bullies and their institutionally created helpless victims.
I’m fulminating about this because of a story I found in the San Jose Mercury News. There really was bullying going on — students attacked a 15-year-old classmate — but what makes me crazy is the fact that the mother ordered her child to take a beating, while the child celebrated the fact that it was better to get beaten up than to have problems with the school administrators (emphasis mine):
Ann Benediktsson, a 15-year-old Dougherty Valley High School student, was walking home on Thursday when a classmate approached her to say she would soon face a peer in a fight.
Ann’s mother, on the phone with her at the time, told her two things: Run home, and if a fight happens, do not fight back.
“It was the hardest thing I have ever had to say in my life,” Kate Benediktsson recalled. “I felt useless.”
Minutes after speaking to her mother, Ann ran into her peer in a park along with over two dozen other students, waiting to witness the event. While Ann attempted to keep her attacker from pulling her hair and socking her jaw, the bystanders pulled out their phones and filmed. In a video Benediktsson obtained of the fight that she later posted to YouTube, students can be heard egging on the fight, sometimes cheering when Ann’s attacker made contact.
Ann never threw a punch.
“I am proud of how I handled it,” Ann said. “I’m glad I didn’t hit back because the principal and teachers would have just said it was a spat between teenagers.”
I cannot believe that a mother told her child to be a punching bag for bullies. Moreover, I cannot believe that a mother told this to her girl child. One of the primary lessons women learn in every self-defense class is this: if you fight back against someone who is assaulting you, you are likely to suffer physical injuries, but you are also much less likely than the passive victim to be raped or killed.
In the African savannah, when lions stalk wildebeests or gazelles, the lions do not like to have to work hard for their meal. They want the lame and the weak stragglers, not the vigorous animals that put up a fight. Human predators are the same. A women who walks with an upright, energetic step, and who is aware of her surroundings, simply isn’t as appealing as the gal shuffling along with her head down. And if that shuffling gal, when attacked, suddenly finds some gumption and fights back, the predator will often back off in any event and look for an easier victim. (For more on the psychology of self-defense, I highly recommend Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence.)
The mother in the above news story essentially taught her daughter to be shark chum. Moreover, while the mother ordered the “principled” stand, it was her daughter who ended up taking a beating. The daughter was certainly an obedient child, but I do rather wonder if the mother would have stood there that passively if it was she, rather than her child, being attacked.
I wasn’t the only one thinking it’s a bad article that celebrates the next generation of victims. Although the article garnered only eight comments, one of them was right on the mark as far as I was concerned:
sorry but I rather take a suspension and stand my ground than to be hit upon, that is the problem with parents these days oh don’t fight back, I taught my son how to defend himself and in doing so he is respected because those who tried to fight him lost. I hate bullies. Everyone should know how to defend themselves.
Ever since my kids hit school, I’ve given them a single message: Never be the one to start a fight but, if someone else starts the fight, you make sure to end it. And don’t worry about the school’s subsequent response. If you had to use physical force to defend yourself, and if the school attempts to punish you, I will take the school on if I have to go all the way to the Supreme Court. I’ve never had to make good on this promise, since no one has ever physically attacked my kids. I suspect that, with my instruction ringing in their ears, they don’t walk around like shark bait.
By the way, I always back up this instruction to my kids by telling them that, had Jews not been conditioned by centuries of oppression to avoid arms, put their heads down, and try to appease authorities, its likely that the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened. Please understand that I’m not blaming those victims. First, no one could ever have imagined what the Germans intended to do. Second, the Jews’ behavior wasn’t a conscious decision. It was the result of a thousand years of conditioning. Israel, thankfully, while not blaming the victims, nevertheless learned the lesson. Like my children, Israel won’t start a fight, but she will finish it.
Incidentally, reading this news report about a school district’s institutional hostility to self-defense effectively bullying a child into victimhood, a behavior the child’s mother reinforced, reminded me of a post that America’s Sgt. Major wrote a couple of years ago at Castra Praetoria, explaining how to deal with bullies. I highly recommend it, because it’s both enjoyable and instructive.
Here’s an old joke:
An established comedian invited a friend to join him at a very exclusive “comedian’s club.” The guest instantly noticed something peculiar. In the main room, a person would periodically stand up and shout out a number. “57,” one would say, and a few people in the room would chuckle. After a moment’s silence, someone would holler, “18,” and be rewarded with a chorus of good-natured “boos.”
This pattern continued for a while, until someone shouted out “77.” While a few people let out a short bark of laughter, one guy in the corner was utterly beside himself. He roared with laughter, until tears were rolling down his face.
The guest turned to his host and asked, “What gives? What is it with these numbers?”
“Well,” the host explained, “it’s like this. We’re all professional comedians here and, to be honest, there are only so many jokes around. It got tiring and boring for someone to tell a joke that everyone already knew, so we started assigning them numbers. It’s kind of like a joke short-hand. People still laugh — if they want — but it definitely saves time.”
“Okay,” said the guest. “I get that. But what about that guy in the corner who collapsed with laughter when someone shouted out ’77′.”
Oh, him,” answered the host. “I guess he hadn’t heard that joke before.”
Yes, it’s a surreal joke, but it also explains why I’m having problems blogging lately. When I read a story about Obamacare, I can’t add much to posts I’ve written going all the way back to 2009. I predicted then what would happen now. “You’ll find that in posts 384, 943, 6749, and 34052.” Events in the Middle East? I foresaw those too, including Obama’s love affair with Iran, and Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s entirely predictable coming together against that common enemy. “See posts 3489 and 9492.” Government data manipulation? We covered that too, as we did with gun control, amnesty, foreign policy, etc.
I’ve moved out of fresh and into “I told you so.” As a writer, “I told you so” is boring. It’s also especially boring for all of you, because you were right there with me, making the same predictions. We all saw all of this coming.
The only thing that’s kind of newsy now is watching the oh-so-smart Leftists figure out that they’ve been had. It’s not actually real news, of course, because we all saw this coming too, but it’s still fun to watch. As to these Obamabots, it’s not just that a specific politician has “had” them. Their entire ideology is disintegrating in front of their eyes. Most, of course, will plunge into frenetic denial. That’s old stuff too. For 100 years, communists have been saying that communism is perfect; it’s the implementation that’s flawed. When today’s Leftist’s rant against the president, the party, and the people, they’re foll0wing an old script.
A few Leftists, however, will draw back and say, “We were wrong. We were wrong about everything.” That’s been done too. They’ll be joining David Horowitz, Michael Medved, Thomas Lifson, David Mamet, Sally Zelikovsky, the Power Line guys, and scores of other people who already had their Road to Damascus moment when they realized that Leftism isn’t poorly implemented; it is, instead, fundamentally flawed. I certainly won’t think as highly of these new converts as I do of the older generation. The older generation didn’t need to see America’s economic collapse and her fade into international irrelevance to see which way the wind was blowing.
Since everything seems to be “same old, same old,” except even more so, what would be new and exciting news for a blase blogger in the next twelve months?
1. Obamacare’s repeal, although unscrambling that egg will be virtually impossible. Even if they wanted to, huge institutions such as heavily-regulated insurance companies and hospitals cannot turn on a dime. The somewhat functioning market will have been destroyed, which nothing lined up to take its place. Worse, we know that Republicans politicians are incapable of using the headwinds of repeal to revitalize the free market. (Remember: Democrats have bad ideas and effective politicians; and Republicans have good ideas and brain-dead cretins in office.)
2. A groundswell of popular support for Obama’s impeachment. Of course, that would leave Biden in charge, which is not a pretty thought. The likelihood is that, if he could, he’d move Elizabeth Warren into the Veep seat to stymie Hillary. It would be amusing, but just as bad for America as Obama himself.
3. Israel’s alliance with the Gulf States to launch a devastating attack against Iran’s missile systems and nuclear centers. With strong American leadership, this could actually have a good outcome, freeing Iranians from decades of appalling Islamist repression and destabilizing tyrannies in a way that leads to genuine freedom throughout the Middle East. With our current leadership, a leadership that will have made such an attack necessary in the first place, one can only imagine that the Middle East, the entire Middle East, will manage simultaneously to implode and explode. The human costs will exceed imagination and, because of oil, those costs will encompass the entire planet. Canada, Brazil, the US, and other places may be coming up as major oil producers, but losing Middle Eastern oil in a single day would have incalculable consequences on modern life.
4. The 2014 elections resulting in a Republican sweep the likes of which has never been seen in America. In a way, though, coming as it would midway through Obama’s so-far disastrous second term, this would also be ho-hum news, even if both House and Senate changed hands. What would be more interesting would be to see places such as Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco jettison their Democrat ruling class. I’m not holding my breath on that one. The residents in those cities routinely use elections to double down on failure.
5. Obama comes out of the closet. (And, come on, you know he’s in there.) That wouldn’t affect anything politically, but it would make for great headlines, especially if Hillary refuses to be one-upped and comes out too.
6. Schadenfreude here, but I will enjoy watching New York in the first year of the de Blasio administration. I should start running a pool taking bets as to how long it will take de Blasio to reduce New York to its 1970s status. We all know that it’s easier and faster to tear down and destroy something than it is to renew and revitalize.
7. The New York Times will declare bankruptcy. I see that as inevitable, although would actually be surprised if it happened in the next twelve months.
8. People definitively reject anthropogenic global warming. As with the New York Times’ bankruptcy, this is inevitable. I just don’t see it happening in only 12 months.
9. Oprah recants and announces that she’s no longer calling for the genocide of “racist” people who don’t support Obama.
10. Palestinians lay down their arms. The previous nine hoped-for headlines all have a possibility, even a small one, of coming true. This one does not, but it sure would be great news, and it would snap me completely out of my writer’s doldrums.
And, for those joining me in ennui, some music:
UPDATE: Hmmm. A James O’Keefe tweet suggests that tomorrow may bring some news we haven’t already heard before.
If you’re looking for a unifying principle of everything, at least everything Democrat, Victor Davis Hanson has it:
What is the common denominator of the Obama administration’s serial scandals — the Justice Department’s spying on AP, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the NSA surveillance, the lies about Benghazi and the ACA — and much of the White House damage-control rhetoric? In a word: the advancement of postmodern notions of justice at the expense of traditional truth.
By the 1980s, in law schools, university social-science departments, and the humanities in general, the old relativist idea of Plato’s noble lies was given a new French facelift. Traditional morality and ethics were dismissed as arbitrary constructs, predicated on privileged notions of race, class, and gender. The new moral architecture did not rely on archaic abidance by the niceties of “truth,” which simply reinforced traditional oppressive hierarchies.
Instead, social justice by definition transcended the sham of traditional ideas of truth and falsity. The true became the advocacy of fairness, while the real lie was the reactionary adherence to a set of oppressive norms. All this was faculty-lounge fluff, but soon it filtered out into the larger culture.
Read the rest here.
In other words, everything Jonah Goldberg said in Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change was true.
To me, history is what was. It’s the past that’s been and gone forever.
To people on the Left, however, history is the future that they shape, which they presume their Leftist scholars will later enshrine in propagandistic history books. I thought of that peculiar viewpoint last night when watching a PBS special about the JFK assassination, an event that doesn’t interest me at all. The most interesting thing about it is a conspiracy theorist’s kerfuffle in its wake. As for me, I believe in a single gunman acting out a Communist fantasy because, today’s Leftist belief to the contrary, Kennedy was a fierce anti-Communist.
The PBS show wasn’t a bad show, and did lay to rest some of the conspiracy theories, but mostly I struggled to stay awake. What did catch my attention was Jim Lehrer’s statement that the assassination “changed history forever.”
Thing about that statement for a minute and marvel at its incoherence. An ordinary person would say that the assassination changed the trajectory America was on as of November 22, 1963. But it didn’t change what happened before November 22, 1963 which was actual history. Moroever, at the moment the assassination happened, what was left was the future, not “future history.”
It was with Lehrer’s nonsensical words ringing in my mind that I read Daniel Greenfield’s “The Left Side of History,” which explains the Obama’s leftist habit of seeing history, not as a look back to the past, but as a forcibly created future:
“As frustrating as HealthCare.gov may be sometimes,” Obama told ObamaCare navigators and volunteers. “We’re on the right side of history.”
It wasn’t the first time that Obama had invoked the right side of history to rally the troops. During the Arab Spring, as Mubarak resigned on his orders, he said, “History will end up recording that at every juncture in the situation in Egypt, that we were on the right side of history.”
It’s hard to be on the right side of history at every juncture. But Obama believed that he had achieved the feat by backing Mubarak, then backing his overthrow and then backing the Muslim Brotherhood.
Read the rest here, and see if you can get a handle on the way the Left views the future as the pre-written past.
UPDATE: Like me, Joseph Epstein doesn’t get the “Kennedy wallow” either. It’s especially silly when one considers that the Left is fetishizing a tax-cutting, communist-hating, Catholic-worshipping, and black-disliking president. And thinking about the facts versus the fantasy, I guess we’re just getting another insight into the Left’s idea of reality versus those actual stubborn facts.
During the Cold War, there were two types of jokes about the Soviet Union: those told within the Soviet Union about how bad life was there, and jokes told outside of the Soviet Union about how bad life was there. Americans told the jokes with gusto. Secure in their freedom from a totalitarian government’s constant surveillance, and rejoicing in the overflowing shelves of a free market economy, these jokes reminded Americans that their political and economic systems were indeed superior.
As we work our way through the second decade of the 21st Century, however, those old Soviet jokes are becoming eerily apposite – not to describe Putin’s Russia (although the surveillance state jokes still have their place), but to describe Obama’s America. Thanks to our newly acquired knowledge about the way the NSA and other government entities have turned America into a surveillance state (which implies a very short journey to a full police state) and thanks to the burgeoning economic disaster that is Obamacare, we’re now the Soviet joke.
To prove this point, I’ve copied below myriad Cold War-era jokes, some of which I remember from my childhood, some of which I culled from Cold War-era joke books, and most of which came from my readers (with special thanks to Zombie, who came through with a mother lode of jokes). When I say copied, I mean it: they’re there verbatim, with their original Soviet references. The only changes I’ve made have been to use strike-throughs on those Soviet references and replaced those words with more appropriate “Obama’s America” references.
It’s sad how well the jokes work as rewritten. People shouldn’t just be saddened, though. They should be outraged — and this outrage should lead to action. As Mary Theroux of the Independent Institute said at a luncheon I attended today, it was collective outrage that started in a Polish shipyard that finally brought down the Soviet Union.
And now, the jokes:
On a bitterly cold day in
Moscow Washington, D.C., word has gone out that a store has received a shipment of food supplies an Obamacare Navigator has a functional computer. People start lining up early. Soon, the line doubles around the block. After a couple of hours, an official emerges from the store office.
“Owing to the
Zionist-dominated American Tea Party interference with Soviet Obamacare concerns, supplies are slightly more limited than we had originally anticipated. All Jews Tea Partiers must therefore leave this line.”
Grumbling, but unsurprised, the
Jews Tea Partiers head home empty-handed.
The sun rises in the sky, but gives no warmth. Another couple of hours go by, and the same official comes out.
Americans Tea Partiers were worse than we thought, and our supplies are more diminished than we realized. All of those who do not belong to the Communist Party Democrat Party must leave this line.”
Disgruntled non-Party members head home, leaving only the hard-core
Soviets Progressives waiting for food.
The sun begins to set. The cold becomes worse. The
Party members Progressives huddle together, trying to get warm. At long last, after they’ve spent eight or ten hours waiting, the official emerges from the store one last time.
“We regret to announce that
American Tea Party depredations were so great that we have no food supplies Obamacare policies available today. You must all go home.”
As the Party members shuffle away into the cold night, one loudly says to the other, “Those damn
Jews Tea Partiers! They get all the luck.”
Communist Progressive: Come the revolution, we’ll all be driving Rolls Royces have “Cadillac” health insurance plans.
Communist Progressive: But I don’t want to drive a Rolls Royce a Cadillac health insurance plan.
Communist Progressive: Come the revolution, you’ll have to want one.
foreign Republican delegation showed up unexpectedly at a collective farm the office of Health and Human Services. There was no time to prepare. After they left, the Chairman of the collective farm called the District Party committee Kathleen Sebelius called the White House. “You didn’t warn me in advance, so they saw everything, the ruined cow sheds antiquated computers, and all the dirt brain-dead programmers, and all our misery and poverty.”
“Don’t worry,” the
Party secretary White House said.
“But now they will tell about it all over the world.”
“Let them indulge in their usual slander,” the
Party secretary White House said.
Stalin Obama summoned Orlov Jay Leno and said, “I have heard through informers that you are telling jokes about me. It’s treasonous!”
“What exactly do you mean?”
“I am the Great Leader, Teacher, and Friend of the people!”
Orlov Leno thought for a while. “No, I haven’t told anybody that joke yet.”
Russian woman walks into a store an Obamacare Navigator’s office. “Do you have any meat health insurance policies?”
“No, we don’t.”
bread a list of doctors who will treat me anyway?”
“We only deal with
meat Obamacare policies. Across the street is the store with no bread doctors.”
gulag federal prison, two inmates share their experience.
“What did they arrest you for?” one of them asks. “Was it a political offense, or a common crime?”
“Political, of course. I’m a
plumber computer programmer. They summoned me to the District Party Obamacare exchange headquarters to fix the sewage pipes computer program. I looked and said, ‘Hey, the entire system requires replacement.’ So, they gave me seven years.”
One day, far in the future, a boy in
Moscow New York asks, “Grandpa, what is a ‘line’?”
“A line? I will explain. You see, many years ago, in the bad old days, there was not enough meat in the stores, so people stood in long rows at the stores’ entrances and waited, hoping some meat would appear on sale. That was called a ‘line.’ Do you understand?”
“Yes, Grandpa. But — what is ‘meat’?”
Okay, this one doesn’t relate directly to either Obamacare or surveillance, but it’s so apropos, I just had to include it. It is, after all, the perfect metaphor for the Obama media:
To alleviate the perennial shortages of butter, The Politburo of the Communist Party ordered the Soviet scientists to develop a technology for converting shit into butter, and to complete this project on or before the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. After six months of work, the Politburo demanded an interim progress report. The scientists reported that they had achieved a 50% success. The party requested elaboration. The reply from the Academy of Sciences explained, “One can already spread it, but not yet eat it.”
Muscovite Manhattanite goes to the Obamacare Navigator’s office to fill out a form for fixing the decayed wiring in his apartment getting insurance through the Obamacare exchange.
official navigator looks through his calendar and says, “Three years from today.”
The man asks, “What time?”
official naviagor looks at him with a puzzled expression on his face. “What possible difference can the time make if it’s three years from today?”
the plumber is coming I have my first doctor’s appointment in the afternoon.”
Soviet labor official Democrat Senator up for reelection is sent by Moscow the DNC to British labor leaders in London his state Democrat party for a round of talks. As he delivers the party line on the issues at hand, one of the Laborites local Democrats interrupts and says to the man, “Look, you’re among friends here. Just say what you think.” The Soviet official Democrat Senator pretends not to hear and continues with his programmed remarks. “Enough,” says the trade union rep local Democrat. “We know what Moscow the White House, the DNC, and the media thinks. Don’t you have an opinion of your own?” “I do,” says the man, “but I don’t agree with it.”
a Moscow May Day parade in the mid 1930s the mandatory celebration for Obama’s fourth inauguration, a very old Jew man carried a sign that said, “Thank you, comrade Stalin President Obama, for my happy childhood!”
Party Progressive representative approached the old man. “What is the meaning of this sign? Everybody can see how old you are — when you were a child, comrade Stalin President Obama was not yet even born!”
Jew man said.
Russian, A Frenchman and an American Progressive, a Republican, and a Libertarian are shipwrecked on a desert island. For weeks they barely survive, half-starved, eating only whatever washes up on the beach.
One day they find a magic lamp on the sand and when they rub it, a genie pops out and grants each one of them a wish.
Frenchman Libertarian says, “I wish to return to France Idaho, where we have the best food and the most beautiful women in the world!” And Poof! he disappears and returns to France Idaho.
American Republican says, “I wish to return to the good ol’ USA, where have more money and more time-saving gadgets than anywhere in the world!” And Poof! he disappears and returns to America.
Progressive, a hardcore communist, says, “Those others were greedy and lazy. A hard life is good for a man’s soul! So I prefer to stay here, hungry and without possessions, on this desert island.”
“If that’s the case,” says the genie, “Then what is your wish?”
“Well, I’ll probably get a little lonely, so my wish is — that you bring those other guys back here for company.”
And a Soviet-style joke that came to me ready-made, without the need for strikethroughs and interlineations:
A loyal Party Citizen in Chicago spends two days nonstop on his computer trying to get Obamacare coverage for his family.
When he finally succeeds and discovers the price of his premiums and copays, he is shocked and angry. He rushes out of his Park Avenue apartment and begins screaming at the top of his voice, “Obama is an incompetent idiot fascist!”
Immediately, an NSA satellite homes in on his location and a Department of Homeland Security SWAT team swoops down on him, tasering him into submission between rifle butts to the stomach and kidneys.
When the disgruntled Party Citizen wakes up on a gurney in the Obamacare hospital corridor, he is informed by the Local Party Boss that the recently remade U.S. Court System will charge him with two crimes.
“What are those”, he asks? ”
“Insulting our Dear Leader and revealing state secrets”, came the reply.
And another Soviet-style joke that came to me ready-made:
A visiting tourist stopped at the corner Moscow newsstand to purchase a paper. He sees that there are three choices. ”I can’t read Russian,” he confesses to the vendor, “I just want one as a souvenir.” He points to the largest stack of papers, unsold. ”Which one is this?”
“Oh, that’s Pravda”, the vendor says. ”But you don’t want that one.”
“Why not” asks the tourist.
“Because it does nothing but parrot the party line, and is filled with lies, half-lies, and deceptions,” the vendor explains. ”We refer to it as the ‘Russian New York Times’.”
James O’Keefe may well be one of the most important journalists out there. This time, he’s caught a few Obamacare navigators following the ACORN model (“please, defraud the federal government and American taxpayers”):
UPDATE: And here’s the companion news story about “limitless” security risks.
Americans now have a rock and a hard place. Their current policies are being cancelled and, no matter what laws Congress may suddenly pass, can never be reinstated. They are gone. As of January 1, millions of Americans will be uninsured. If the exchanges continue to be dysfunctional, they can remain uninsured, whether or not they want to be. But if the exchanges do function, Americans can buy insurance that not only gives less for more money, but that also exposes them to “limitless” security risks.
My liberal friends on Facebook are noticeably and notably silent about Obamacare. I believe that they’re heeding the dictum that, if you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.
Those of us who remember the Cold War also remember the Cold War joke. Many of these were jokes that had actually originated within the Soviet Union itself, as Russian citizens used mordant humor to deal with communist life. When I was growing up, those jokes had a great deal to do with my understanding of the day-to-day realities of life in a Communist state, both in terms of the oppression and the deprivation. Here’s a joke that illustrates both:
A man was somehow able to finagle visas to get his family out of the Soviet Union, but he was forced to remain behind. He promised to write his family regularly to let them know how he was doing. Because the family knew that the KGB would be monitoring everything the man wrote, they agreed upon a code: If the man wrote his letter in black ink, he was telling the truth; if he wrote his letter in red ink, he was telling a lie. Not long after the family settled in their new home, they received a letter from the man written entirely in black ink:
My dearest family,
How foolish you were to leave our beloved Soviet Union. Although you may remember a brief period of shortages, I can tell you that life now has gotten better in every way. The stores are overflowing with food and merchandise. At the green grocer, there are fruits and vegetables from all corners of our glorious Soviet Union. In the clothing stores, the clothes available for purchase are packed so tightly on the rack that one needs to use excessive strength to pull out a shirt just to try it on. Even though it is January, our dear little apartment is oppressively hot. I must repeatedly tell the manager to turn the heat down. Indeed, peculiarly enough, in the midst of all the plenty flowing from Stalin’s great Five Year Plan, the stores are short only one item: red ink.
Other jokes spoke about deprivation and the pervasive, state-sponsored antisemitism:
On a bitterly cold day in Moscow, word has gone out that a store has received a shipment of food supplies. People start lining up early. Soon, the line doubles around the block. After a couple of hours, an official emerges from the store.
“Owing to the Zionist-dominated American interference with Soviet concerns, supplies are slightly more limited than we had originally anticipated. All Jews must therefore leave this line.”
Grumbling, but unsurprised, the Jews head home empty-handed.
The sun rises in the sky, but gives no warmth. Another couple of hours go by, and the same official comes out.
“The Americans were worse than we thought, and our supplies are more diminished than we realized. All of those who do not belong to the Communist Party must leave this line.”
Disgruntled non-Party members head home, leaving only the hard-core Soviets waiting for food.
The sun begins to set. The cold becomes worse. The Party members huddle together, trying to get warm. At long last, after they’ve spent eight or ten hours waiting, the official emerges from the store one last time.
“We regret to announce that American depredations were so great that we have no food supplies available today. You must all go home.”
As the Party members shuffle away into the cold night, one loudly says to the other, “Those damn Jews! They get all the luck.”
(Incidentally, I published this joke in connection with a Maxine Waters comment, which reminds us that antisemitism is becoming pretty pervasive in today’s Democrat Party.)
For me, Obamacare is a rich area for Soviet jokes. We’re being ordered to buy a product that we don’t want; that is described as being overwhelmingly full of delights, even though we don’t care about those delights; and that is, in any event, unavailable. It’s a Soviet-style economic policy that is fully deserving of Soviet-style jokes. To date, I’ve fallen back on one of my old favorites:
First Communist: Come the revolution, we’ll all be driving Rolls Royces.
Second Communist: But I don’t want to drive a Rolls Royce.
First Communist: Come the revolution, you’ll have to.
What fascinated me was discovering that I’m not the only one dredging up the Cold War past in connection with Obamacare. Megan McArdle, an admirably level-headed, honest writer whose background as a programmer has given her solid insights into the Obamacare debacle, has felt the same impulse:
Left-leaning columnists and policy wonks have been suggesting that the cancellation letters were part of an insurance company scam to enroll their customers in expensive policies, but the administration itself has been remarkably oblique. It needs the insurers, especially with the exchanges in so much trouble. Their cooperation is essential to avoiding another round of nasty premium shocks next year.
It reminds me of a late-Soviet joke: A man stands in line all day for bread, only to have the baker come out and say there is none. He loses it, and begins ranting about the government. Eventually, a man in a trench coat puts a hand on his shoulder.
“Be careful, comrade. You know, in the old days, it would have been …” and he mimes a gun pointed at the head.
The man walks home, dejected. When he walks in the door, his wife takes one look at his face and drops the plate she is holding.
“What’s wrong, Ivan? Were they out of bread?”
“It’s worse than that. They’re out of bullets.”
The administration has run out of political bullets. Unless the Affordable Care Act starts working, and delivering big benefits to more people than are losing their insurance, it can’t do much to improve those sagging poll numbers.
I’m wondering now if we’re going to see a general resurgence of Soviet jokes. They’re pretty much pre-made for the communist style economy Obama has thrust upon us. So I have a twofold request for you: First, do you remember any old Soviet-era jokes (and they have to be the genuine article) that work just as well now, in America, as they did during the Cold War in the Soviet Union? Second, if you find other writers falling back on old Communist jokes in connection with Obamacare specifically or the Obama economy generally, could you let me know?
I had the opportunity the other day to dine with a collection of Blue State liberals. It was enlightening, not because I actually learned anything from them, but because I learned about them. It was also a reminder of how far I’ve traveled ideologically, because I used to be one of them. Looking at them, I don’t regret my journey.
Most of the evening, of course, was idle chitchat, without any political ramifications. Inevitably, though, politics and ideological issues cropped up. I’ll just run down a few topics.
Antisemitism in higher education:
I was told in no uncertain terms that Columbia University cannot be antisemitic because it’s in New York. My offer to produce evidence to support my thesis was rebuffed. For those of you who, unlike Blue State liberals, feel that facts are valuable, these links support my contention that, New York address notwithstanding, Columbia is in thrall to Palestinian activists and BDS derangement:
And of course, there’s simply the fact that Columbia is one of the more ideologically Left schools, although that wouldn’t have bothered my dinner companions.
The effect of taxes on investment:
One of my dinner companions is a successful investment analyst. I asked him if he’d been hearing about any effects flowing from the Obamacare medical device tax. “No, of course not. It’s — what? — a two percent tax. That’s not going to make a difference to anybody.” Again, my offer of contrary data was rejected, because it was obviously Fox News propaganda, never mind that it’s not from Fox News. Stephen Hay, at Power Line, neatly summarizes a Wall Street Journal article predicated on actual investment data:
Today in my Constitutional Law class I’ll be taking up the famous case of McCulloch v. Maryland, the bank case from 1819 in which Chief Justice John Marshall observed that “the power to tax involves the power to destroy,” which immediately set my mind to thinking about . . . Obamacare. Obamacare’s medical device tax—a tax not on profits remember, but on revenues—is doing its destructive work already.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that “Funding Dries Up for Medical Startups,” noting that “Investment in the medical-device and equipment industry is on pace to fall to $2.14 billion this year, down more than 40% from 2007 and the sharpest drop among the top five industry recipients of venture funding.” It seems we have to relearn every few years (such as the luxury boat tax of 1990, swiftly repealed when it killed the boat-building industry) the basic lesson that Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan taught us: tax something and you get less of it. Especially when you tax it like Obamacare, where the tax significantly reduces the after-tax return to investors.
When a 2% tax is on after-tax returns, and it targets a specific industry, surprisingly it does make a big difference to people. Right now, the difference is at the investment level, but soon it will be at the consumer level, as consumers are less likely than ever before to see life-changing inventions such as the insulin pump or the cochlear implant.
American healthcare compared to other Western countries: Everybody agreed that America has the worst health care compared to those countries with socialized medicine. Britain doesn’t count, my fellow dinners told me, because it’s “chosen” to offer bad health care. My attempts to talk about freedom of choice, market competition, declining government revenue, cost-based decisions to deny treatment to whole classes of patients, etc., were rudely brushed aside. “That’s just Fox News propaganda.” Likewise, the liberals also dismissed as “Fox News propaganda” my statement that the studies they’re relying on have as their metric availability of coverage, rather than quality of outcome. I therefore wasn’t surprised when they equally rudely dismissed me when I said that a recent study showed that America has some of the best cancer survival rates in the world.
Since I know that you’d never be that rude, let me just quote Avik Roy, who actually studies the numbers:
It’s one of the most oft-repeated justifications for socialized medicine: Americans spend more money than other developed countries on health care, but don’t live as long. If we would just hop on the European health-care bandwagon, we’d live longer and healthier lives. The only problem is it’s not true.
The problem, of course, is that there are many factors that affect life expectancy. One is wealth. It’s gross domestic product per capita, and not health-care policy, that correlates most strongly to life expectancy. Gapminder has produced many colorful charts that show the strong correlation between wealth and health.
If you really want to measure health outcomes, the best way to do it is at the point of medical intervention. If you have a heart attack, how long do you live in the U.S. vs. another country? If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer? In 2008, a group of investigators conducted a worldwide study of cancer survival rates, called CONCORD. They looked at 5-year survival rates for breast cancer, colon and rectal cancer, and prostate cancer. I compiled their data for the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and western Europe. Guess who came out number one?
U-S-A! U-S-A! What’s just as interesting is that Japan, the country that tops the overall life expectancy tables, finished in the middle of the pack on cancer survival.
I’m not doing justice Roy’s article with these snippets, so I urge you to read the whole thing. Suffice to say that my companions were uninterested in data that ran counter to their narrative.
The racist inside every liberal: My dinner companions did concede that culture is a factor in health care, although they stopped short of admitting (as they should have) that a country as diverse as America will never be able to counter cultural differences with socialized medicine. (Or, rather, they couldn’t admit that it would take overwhelming government coercion to do so.)
One of the guests described a patient with a treatable disorder — i.e., one that could be controlled with a carefully regimented plan of medicine and treatment — who was too disorganized to follow the treatment. As a result, this person ended up in the emergency room one to two times a month, at great cost to the system. The healthcare provider finally hired a minimum wage worker to remind the patient to take the medicines and to drive the patient to the hospital. Another guests said, “Black, right?” The person who told the story said, “I can’t tell you that, but probably.” They snickered companionably over the fact that blacks are just too dumb to care for themselves.
Another way of looking at it, though, was that this patient did fine: The patient didn’t have to fuss with drugs (and their side-effects), got emergency treatment on an as-needed basis, and ended up having a dedicated employee to detail with the finicky little details of disease maintenance. Who’s snickering now?
The power that maintains slavery: One of the people at the dinner was a student studying American history. The curriculum had reached the Civil War. The student asked a good question: “I don’t get how the slaves let themselves stay that way. After all, they outnumbered the whites.“ Good point. The liberal dinner guests started mumbling about systems, and complexity, and psychology. And I do mean mumbling. They didn’t offer data. They just mouthed buzzwords such as “it’s complex,” or “you have to understand the system,” or “well, there’s a psychology there.” I interrupted: “The slave owners were armed. The slaves were denied arms. The side with weapons, even if it’s smaller in number, wins.” To my surprise, none of the liberals in the room had anything to add.
The food was good and my dinner companions were periodically interesting and charming, so the dinner wasn’t a total loss. Nevertheless, I found dismaying the arrogant ignorance that powers their engines. All I could think of was my own blog’s motto: “Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts.” That was my dinner in a nutshell.
At PowerLine, Paul Mirengoff analyzes a Politico article that attempts to assess the political fallout from Obamacare. The Politico writers, says Mirengoff, acknowledge that those in the individual insurance market aren’t feeling the love for the Democrats now, but imply that the majority of these people would have voted Republican in any event. Mirengoff notes, though, this impression is belied by facts in the Politico article:
But later in the article we learn that, according to a survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, nearly half of those who brought their own insurance are between the ages of 18 and 44. We also learn, thanks to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, that there is no statistically significant difference between the political party affiliation of those who buy their own health care.
To be sure, when pressed, more people in this group say they lean Republican than Democrat. But the Kaiser poll clearly supports my statement that the party allegiance of Obamacare losers (at least this set of them) is split. Moreover, as one analyst quoted by Politico says, anger over cancellation letters is likely to cross party lines.
In other words, actual numbers suggest that the first wave of Obamacare victims may turn some Democrats into Republican voters, at least temporarily.
Obama and the Democrats, however, are counting on the fact that, for every voter who turns against the Dems because he lost his insurance, his rates went up, and his coverage quality went down, the Dems will still gain voters who got insurance despite preexisting conditions or who benefited from the subsidies that voters with sticker shock are funding. Just as Republicans fear the moment when 51% or more of Americans get government hand-outs, the Democrats look forward to the moment when 51% or more of Americans look to the government for goodies.
What I think both the Democrats and the Republicans are forgetting is that a large segment of that 51% doesn’t vote. How do I know this? Because I have a family member who is part of that 51%. I love this family member, who is an honest, decent person with a great deal of integrity. Nevertheless, her choice of friends leaves something to be desired. (And no, I don’t know what bizarre combination of nature, nurture, and peer pressure resulted in me being a very wholesome professional living an upper-middle-class life in a chi-chi suburb surrounded by children and dogs, while she ended up being a college drop-out living in a trailer park.)
This gal’s friends all get some form of welfare: foods stamps, welfare checks, free clinic health care, etc. Many of them dropped out the employment market years ago. To the extent that they are almost entirely dependent on government largesse, it is in their best interest to vote Democrat. Obamacare definitely increases their fealty to the Democrat party.
The problem that the Democrats have with this cohort, however, is that, while it’s in these people’s best interests to vote Democrat, the same pathologies that leave them dependent on government also mean that most of them can’t or won’t vote. Some are convicted felons (with their criminal records invariably tied to substance abuse), so they can’t vote. All of them are eternally disorganized. A combination of substance abuse, mental health disorders, and old-fashioned stupidity means that these people cannot get their acts together sufficiently to voter their own interests. Most aren’t even registered, and wouldn’t know what to do if they were.
While these people are the Democrats’ natural constituency, they aren’t Democrat voters. Sure, if you do a man on the street interview with one of these people, he’ll talk the party line and sound like he’ll be the first ones at the polls on election day. If you were to go to his house on election day, though, you’d discover him slumped on the couch, beer in one hand and doobie in the other, unaware that he missed his opportunity to keep those welfare checks coming.
Ironically, for a long time, those who have repeatedly voted Democrat for the benefit of this welfare class probably aren’t themselves recipients of welfare. Instead, they’re the true believers, from the working class on up, who look at these pathetic, disorganized, drunk, and drugged masses and think that a vote for the Democrats, by keeping the welfare spigot open, will help these people. Put another way, when we see Democrats win, it’s not because the welfare crowd cast the votes, it’s because the bleeding-heart crowd did it on their behalf.
I realize, of course, that this is a simplification that doesn’t take into account functional poor people who believe that they can survive only with government handouts and who make damn sure to vote for the party in charge of the handouts. These are the voters Republicans need to reach, so that we can explain to them that the Democrats are rather quickly killing off the working- and middle-class geese who have been laying the golden eggs that have then been redistributed to the welfare class. Destroy your tax base and there’s no more welfare. These same people need to be convinced that welfare does not need to be a way of life. And more specifically, blacks need to understand that, just because slavery was work, not all work is slavery.
Obamacare is going to have a very profound effect on Democrat voters, I suspect, but not in the way Democrats hope and Republicans fear. The Democrats screwed by Obamacare and insulted by Obama’s lies will have their “come to Jesus moments” and may well shift political allegiance, even if only temporarily. On the flip side, those who voted (and I mean actually cast a vote) for the Democrats and who are not screwed, will continue to vote Democrat. But the poorest people, the ones who now have heavily subsidized, gold-plated health insurance, will not suddenly rush to the polls. Health insurance or not, their pathologies will continue to render them incapable of the mental organization required for sending in an absentee ballot or getting out of the house and to the polling station on election day.
Obamacare fails at so many levels it’s hard to count them. It fails because it’s the only piece of significant legislation in American history to be passed on strict partisan lines, using procedural tricks and bribes, and with a majority of American people disapproving of it. It fails because its implementation violates American religious freedom insofar as it forces people of faith to fund abortion and birth control. It fails because the administration knowingly used lies to pass it, a tactic that has a legal name: fraud.
Obamacare fails because it turns people into slaves to the government, making its opponents the new abolitionists. It fails because tens of millions of Americans will lose the insurance they were promised they could keep. It fails because it raises insurance costs for millions of Americans who believed Obama’s blatant lie that their average annual costs would decrease substantially. And of course, it fails because the Obamacare exchanges are so dysfunctional that the only parts that work are the routine breaches of privacy.
Right now, owing to all those failures, Americans are not happy with either Obama or Obamacare. Democrats are unsympathetic. Rep. Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.) sloughed off American concerns. According to the National Journal, he had a simple message for Americans: “Change is hard. Get over it. Barack Obama is president, and the Affordable Care Act is the law.”
Actually, this is not a new Democrat message. In the years preceding the Civil War, they kept telling Americans to “get used to” slavery, because “it’s the law.” And in the post-Civil War era, when Jim Crow laws depriving blacks of their civil rights were enacted throughout the South, the Democrats had the same message: “Get over it. It’s the law.”
Put another way, whenever slavery is at issue — and this is true whether it shows itself straightforwardly as “slavery,” or masquerades under such euphemisms as “Jim Crow” or “Obamacare” — the Democrat message has been the same for 160 years: “Get over it. It’s the law.”
(I originally wrote this post for Mr. Conservative.)