Legal work precluded me from blogging today, but I have some ideas for the rest of the evening. Meanwhile, as a warm-up act, a few clever political posters.
Yes, I went all doom and gloom yesterday. I worry that the pervasive corruption that the Democrat party has inflicted on the American government and on American political society does not bode well for an honest election outcome. Having said that, I realized that the most corrupt part of this entire election is the media’s successful effort to have us focus obsessively on the candidates, so as to obscure actual issues.
The two campaigns are driven by competing core visions of America: Globalism and patriotism. It is those ideas, not the two reprehensible candidates, that voters must address in the 2016 election.
Hillary’s globalist presidency will mark the finish line of the “fundamental change” that Obama has started. After her election, we will live in a post-constitutional America that
I’m making a slight change to how I present political cartoons in future. Some of my blog friends have reported expensive, losing fights because they published political cartoons or other images that were obviously, or not so obviously, subject to copyright claims. To prevent that, I will no longer publish proprietorial political cartoons. Instead, you’ll just find here endless and wonderful political cartoons and social issue posters that creative people have freely released into the world.
Without diving into the details, there are two central flaws with this poster that negate everything it advocates: It assumes (1) that the money Bernie wants to spend belongs to the government, not the taxpayers, and (2) that the government will spend that money better under Bernie’s aegis than you would spend it for your own benefit or that past governments have spent it for the “public good.” One needs only to look at the history of socialism everywhere to realize that, when it comes to managing money (your money, that you earned), the government (which simply took it at gunpoint) does a lousy job and that individuals make smarter decisions.
Let me turn the rostrum over to Milton Friedman:
Having gone on at some length to demolish a single Leftist sentence riddled with lies, it’s time for me to tackle the next Leftist poster that I found on Facebook. I think this one will do for my next effort at exposing the rank dishonesty hiding behind some of those “cute” or “clever” posters your Leftist friends put up on Facebook:
There go those Leftists again, unable to distinguish between basic government services, which even the most extreme libertarians support, and an all-powerful, all-encompassing government that perverts our economy and exerts control over every aspect of our lives. To understand that difference, it’s useful to go back to the father of limited government, Adam Smith, and see what he had to say on the subject of government’s role in our lives (emphasis mine):
“Progressives,” and even traditional liberals, would argue that while government may have the potential of being force multipliers for evil, they are also irreplaceable force multiplier for *good*.
Devil’s Advocate analogy: The Nazis used railroads to haul prisoners to concentration camps…clearly, railroads are a force multiplier for evil….should we therefore abolish railroads?
and moving from analogy to reality:
Large-scale government resulted in Stalin’s slave-labor projects such as the White Sea canal. But large-scale government also resulted in the flood-control and power-generation projects of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Should we not do the second because of the first–and who, absent big government, would execute things like flood-control works?
There needs to be a crisp and concise response to this kind of challenge.
My main problem with answering this question is that crisp and concise are not my forte. Still, I’ll try:
Not always, but often, private industry can build infrastructure if it’s allowed to profit from it (in which case it usually does the job better than government would). Moreover, even the most libertarian of us wouldn’t quarrel with the premise that basic infrastructure is a core government function. For example, it’s reasonable for government to build roads to ease commerce or, as happened in the 1950s with the interstate highways, to allow the military to move swiftly in America’s defense against foreign enemies.
Only government, however, which controls the police and military forces, can commit murder on a mass scale, not in the tens, hundreds, or thousands, but in the millions, tens of millions, and potentially even the hundreds of millions.
In other words, when it comes to good things, such as basic infrastructure, private industry can often carry the load (curtailing government’s reach) or government, when it acts, does so consistent with its most basic obligations. When it comes to evil, such as mass murder, imprisonment, torture, and limitations on speech and religion, only big government has the power and reach to carry out evil acts on an epic scale.
Here’s one other thought: As I pointed out in my “force multiplier” post, all big governments have asserted and always will assert that their acts are compassionate. They are acting “for the workers,” to “keep the peace,” to “save the nation’s soul,” etc. Regardless of motives, though, it is government’s manifest destiny, unless specifically and firmly curtailed, to grow larger and, once it reaches critical mass, to become tyrannical.
Finally, I’m not the only one thinking about the problem of big government and the problem of those who will never think it’s big enough:
I was struggling to explain to a Bernie supporter why his “compassionate” politics will not stop the risks to Americans from further socializing and therefore growing American government. In military terminology, a force multiplier is a single capability that, when added to an enterprise, dramatically increases the effect.
The problem with government is that, as it grows, no matter the original good intentions behind it, it invariably becomes a force multiplier for evil. Thus, once government power passes a certain point, government becomes the equivalent of a bull in a china shop, with its every motion causing massive damage. Incidentally, the china in that shop is always you — the individual.
I defy any one of you reading this to identify a huge government that has not eventually done great damage to its citizens. This is true whether the government was an imperial monarchy (Rome or China), a theocracy (Iran), a military dictatorship (every tin pot tyrant in Latin America), a socialist government (Greece), a communist government (USSR or China), or a demagogic cult of personality (a la, say, Mugabe in Zimbabwe).
Individuals can be stupid and even unbelievably cruel. Every day the media is filled with stories from around the world of people killing or harming each other, whether through carelessness or deliberate action. Reading these stories, we may long for a strong hand from above to create order. If you’re an environmentalist, you want government to beat down the polluters and the deniers. If you’re devoutly religious, you want leadership that stops blasphemy, premarital sex, abortion, and pornography. If you’re a feminist, you want to bring to heel men who demean women. People with strong ideals believe that they are being good when they seek an equally strong government that will enforce those beliefs.
There’s actually nothing wrong with voters within a small community enacting regulations that allow government to enforce their beliefs. Small governments are close to and responsive to the voters, making them ideal laboratories of democracy. For example, Colorado is a perfect test case for marijuana legalization. Local voters asked for it, it’s being implemented, and an interested America can see whether legalizing pot is a good thing or a bad thing. Because the experiment’s scale is finite, the ensuing damage is limited, those who hate the law’s effects can move elsewhere without leaving their country, and a local law is more easily reversed than something enacted and enforced at a national level.
Likewise, if California voters elect legislators who think that green cars will save the world, and therefore give enormous subsidies to rich people for buying electric cars at a discount . . . well, go for it. Smart, wealthy Californians will buy the subsidized car and then head for a low-tax state. Those who can’t afford the cars and resent the subsidies can also move. Meanwhile, the rest of America can marvel at a state with the highest poverty rate in America that subsidizes rich people’s toys.
When things happen at a national level, where governments are increasingly removed from their representatives (not to mention entirely removed from ideologically-driven Supreme Court justices) they rapidly become anti-democratic. This is most obvious when it comes to money because anything that involves the federal government involves money — incredibly vast sums of money. Where there’s money, there’s corruption. That’s how it came about that, during a painful recession, taxpayers across America find themselves funding Solyndra and related entities — not because doing so was good business, but because the government put its thumb on the scale. When those companies failed, there was nowhere for ripped-off Americans to go, short of emigrating.
Government’s most powerful effect as a force multiplier doesn’t involve money, it involves death. Progressives like to point out that America has a very high murder rate. They believe that government could compassionately end murder if it would confiscate guns, fund more abortions in poverty-stricken regions (eliminating potential criminals), and otherwise attack root causes. Following this line of thinking, Progressives reason that the bigger the government, the more quickly it can bring about murder’s end.
In fact, the opposite is true. Data shows that individuals are surprisingly bad at mass killings, including individuals equipped with the Progressives’ bête noire — the gun. For example, the worst individual mass murderer with a gun was Anders Behring Breivik who, on July 22, 2011, shot and killed 69 people in Norway – mostly teenagers. This rampage came after he’d already set off a bomb, killing 8 people.
Even when individuals band together in armed groups they’re still surprisingly ineffective at killing. The bloody Mumbai terror attack in 2008 is killed 154 people. The 2015 Paris massacre claimed 139 lives.
Even if mass murderers abandon their guns and think really big, they’re still operating in the low four-digits when it comes to mass murder. In 1999, Gameel al-Batouti, a pilot, hollered “Allahu Akbar” as he piloted a plane full of passengers into the Atlantic Ocean, killing 217 people. Even the 19 al Qaeda members who used box cutters to hijack four planes, crashing them into three buildings and a field, couldn’t break 3,000, taking “only” 2,996 innocent lives.
At this point, smart readers have probably noticed the huge flaw in my argument about how inefficient individuals or small bands of people are when it comes to killing. I’ve focused on specific crimes and ignored the aggregate number of people dead in American throughout its history thanks to violent individuals. The clever Progressive would argue that, if we had a really powerful (but compassionate) government, most crime would stop, thereby saving lives.
Sadly, it turns out that’s not true. Instead, the opposite is true. The reality is that, even if individual Americans were super-efficient killing machines for our country’s entire 233 year history, we’d still be rank amateurs compared to Big Government’s force multiplier effect when it comes to murder.
Let me explain by having you join me in playing around with numbers: We’ll begin by adding up America’s annual murder statistics from 1960 through 2012. During those 52 years, Americans murdered 914,191 of their fellow citizens. (This period, which encompasses the implementation of and fall-out from the Democrat’s Great Society experiment, saw the largest number of murders in America’s history.)
Now let’s pretend, solely for the sake of argument, that this high murder rate is not an outlier. Instead, we’ll pretend that it’s the American way of life for 900,000 people to get murdered every 50 years. Thus, we’ll pretend that from 1783-1833 there were 900,000 murders in America, and we’ll also pretend that from 1833 to 1883 another 900,000 people got murdered, and so on for every 50 year block of time through to the present. If we play this game for America’s entire 233 year history, there would have been about 4,000,000 murders in America by 2016.
That imaginary, inflated number — 4,000,000 murders! — sounds scarily high. Couldn’t a compassionate government have saved those lives? Probably not. The reality is that, compared to what governments — the force multipliers of evil — can do, that massively inflated number is nothing! There is no killing power greater than government, which has a concentration of men and weapons that even the most blood thirsty murderer can only dream of. Look at the numbers for just the 20th and 21st centuries:
Turkey: In 1915, the Turkish government ordered and carried out the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians.
Soviet Union: In the 1920s through mid-1930s, the Soviet government under Stalin declared war on the independent Ukrainian farmers known as Kulaks. Through government engineered starvation, deportation, and execution, the Soviets are estimated to have killed approximately 7 million Kulaks.
The Kulaks were just one group who died off in a specific mass killing. In fact, nobody really knows how many of its citizens the Soviet Union killed, whether using starvation, outright execution, or penal colonies. Estimates range from 7 million to 20 million people dying due to the Soviet government’s policies and purges.
China in the 1960s through 1970s: When it comes to a government killing its own citizens, the Soviets were pikers compared to the Chinese. Current estimates for those who died during the Great Leap Forward due to government engineered famine, executions, and slave labor, range from between 23 million to 46 million Chinese. Some estimates (outliers, admittedly) posit even 50 million or more Chinese dying to appease Chairman Mao’s statist vision.
Nazi Germany, from 1933-1945: You knew I’d get to the Nazis, of course. Not satisfied with purging their own country of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and handicapped people, the Nazis conquered Europe from France to Poland to Denmark and embarked upon a purge in those countries too.
With their pick of helpless victims, the Nazis killed 6 million Jews; 250,000 gypsies; 220,000 homosexuals, and, through slave labor, executions, and starvation, as many as 10 million Slavic people. (The number of handicapped people killed is unknown.) To the deliberate murders of unarmed combatants, the Nazis added the deaths of another 19,315,000 Europeans who weren’t targeted because of race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability but who were, instead, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Cambodia: Following the Cambodian Civil War, Pol Pot rose to power in Cambodia. Once in power, in the years between 1975 and 1979, his government killed between 1.7 and 2.2 million of its own citizens, out of a population of around 8 million people. Were the U.S. to have a Pol Pot moment today, that would be the equivalent of having the federal government kill 66 million to 85 million people in four years.
North Korea: Nobody knows how many North Koreans have died since the murderous Kim regime came into power. One estimate is that 1,293,000 North Koreans have died at their government’s hands. That number, of course, is entirely separate from the hundreds of thousands of North Koreans residing in concentration camps throughout that hellish little nation.
The above are the government-engineered mass murders that spring most readily to my mind. I’ve obviously left out many murderous regimes that properly belong on the list, everything from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, to Cuba, to just about every tin-pot dictatorship in Africa and Latin America. If you would like the full body of statistics for government-engineered mass murders in the 20th and 21st centuries, I recommend R. J. Rummel’sStatistics of Democide, which examines 214 regimes. I’ve picked my way through some of this opus and, even though Rummel’s writing is scholarly not scintillating, I was able to catch the depressing gist: governments kill and, given the chance, they kill often, in staggering numbers.
Let me restate my premise once more: Government is a force multiplier of evil. No matter the initial intentions that led to the build-up of a powerful government (compassion, efficiency, “fairness,” economic strength), eventually government is going to start taking sides and, as surely as night follows day, it will bring the full weight of its police and military power against the side it didn’t take.
A compassionate government will talk itself into euthanizing people who, because they are very old or sick, use up more than their fair share of medical care. This has already happened under England’s National Health Service, which kills off old, sick people, and whose “ethicists” advocate even more killings (out of “compassion” of course).
A compassionate government dedicated to efficiency will convince itself that individuals or organizations that stand in the way of efficiency must be controlled and, if they won’t be controlled, must be destroyed. After all, without mandated efficiency, people will suffer.
A compassionate government dedicated to “fairness” (usually thought of in economic terms), will quickly conclude that it’s entirely unfair that one distinct group or another is wealthier or healthier than the rest. That group must be brought to heel and, failing that, destroyed.
A compassionate government dedicated to national purity will naturally have to kill the impure within its borders and, once that’s done, it would be even more compassionate to extend that purity throughout the world.
Even the most murderous theocracies will argue that compassion guides them. Their tortures, executions, and Holy Wars are meant to bring people closer to God, which is the highest form of human existence. Isn’t that a nice, compassionate thing to do?
The only bulwark against the force multiplier of government evil is limited government. That’s why America’s Founding Fathers, who had just rebelled against the most powerful government in the world, did everything they could to bolster individual rights (i.e., what we now call “civil rights”).
As the Declaration of Independence states unambiguously, each person has unalienable rights — the ultimate civil liberties, if you will — that do not come from government. Our individual rights exist independent of government. Government’s job is not to create these rights, but to safeguard them. Government cannot hand them out, nor can it take them away. They just are. And if government fails to provide the proper safeguards or, worse, itself threatens these unalienable rights, it is not the rights that are illegitimate, it is the government.
Very soon after the American Revolution ended, our Founders recognized that the federal government needed some guidance if it was to maintain its legitimacy and provide a stable structure for its citizens without destroying their rights. To that end, in 1791, the Founders enacted the Bill of Rights (i.e., the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution). They are short and sweet, and are notable for the way in which, rather than extending government power, they severely restrict its power over citizens.
It took eight amendments to drive home the explicit rights inherent in individuals, rights that government must keep inviolate. But to reiterate just how severely constrained the United States’ federal governments’ power is vis a vis the citizens within its borders, the Founders made two further points: While the amendments are to be understood to control the federal government, they cannot be read to mean that American citizens have only those rights enumerated in the first eight amendments (9th Amendment). Instead, those ostensibly stated affirmative “rights” are actually limitations on the government. All else remains to a free people.
And if the 9th Amendment isn’t sufficiently clear, the 10th Amendment says that, unless the Constitution explicitly reserves an affirmative right for the federal government, or prohibits it to a state, all other rights — the universe of rights, whether or not articulated — belong to the states or the people within those states.
This is small government writ large. Civil rights mean small government, with the federal government limited primarily (although not entirely) to protecting citizens from itself. The Bill of Rights is meant to put a brake on government’s inevitable end-point as a force multiplier of evil.
In this election, looking at either side of the political divide (Democrat or Republican), there is only one candidate who has repeatedly, throughout his life and career, professed fealty to the Constitution. That candidate is Ted Cruz. Even if you don’t like him, even if you think he’s arrogant, even if his God talk scares you, his loud constitutional fealty means that he has boxed himself into a corner. He cannot utilize the force multiplier effect to bring about whatever nefarious goals you might fear he has. Jonah Goldberg sums it up nicely:
Cruz’s “brand” hinges almost entirely on his fidelity to the Constitution. Mimicking Barack Obama’s disdain for the Constitution simply wouldn’t be an option for Cruz, and that means he’d have to work with Congress to get his conservative agenda passed.
What matters now is that Cruz is a talented and committed conservative. He is also Republicans’ best chance for keeping their presidential nomination from going to someone with low character and worse principles.
There are many candidates this year who promise to use the government to make things better. That is an oxymoronic promise. Except in very limited areas (national security, public health, preserving open trade between states and nations), the bigger the government gets, the worse it becomes.
To those voters contemplating which candidate to support in the upcoming primaries, I bet of you to ignore anger, ignore pretty speeches, ignore alleged compassion, ignore history-making feminism, and ignore any other “trend of the minute” concerns or promises. Instead, vote for the only candidate who has predicated his entire career and candidacy on limiting government power, thereby limiting government’s force multiplier effect of evil.
(And one more thing: Before you vote, please read Garry Kasparov’s illuminating opinion piece about the evils of socialism and the wonders of American-style, free-market capitalism. It’s not just a challenge to Bernie’s promises. It’s an encomium to an America predicated on individual liberty and a free-market economy.)
After a day of wholesome domesticity, what could be better than a little political commentary? As was the case yesterday, I want to begin with a comment about a Facebook poster a liberal friend put up. This one has to do with complaints about the Obama administration’s anything-but-rapid response to Ebola, a disease threat that’s been hanging around since 1976. The liberal cadre are arguing that Obama’s conduct compares favorably to Reagan’s silence about AIDS:
Certainly, it would have been better had Reagan spoken about AIDS sooner, rather than later. I suspect, however, that his silence was dictated by a fundamental difference between AIDS and Ebola: AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, and Reagan came of age in a time when one didn’t speak about STDs from the White House’s bully pulpit.
Putting aside the stigma attached to sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS had a few other distinctions from Ebola: For one thing, it quickly became apparent that the vast majority of people could avoid AIDS in two ways: (1) They could stop having unprotected sex and (2) they could stop sharing dirty needles. (I’m not ignoring people who got AIDS through tainted blood transfusions. They, sadly, were not part of that vast majority.) Those of us around in the early 1980s remember how the gay community stridently and ferociously resisted any government efforts to slow unbridled bathhouse promiscuity. They wanted a cure, so long as it didn’t affect their sex lives.
For another thing, AIDS, unlike Ebola, moves slowly. While it’s very contagious, the speed with which it spreads through a community, especially when people start behaving wisely, is limited. In this regard, it’s entirely unlike Ebola which, left unchecked, can move with deadly speed even amongst people taking reasonable precautions. Worse, it can be a tidal wave when people, for reasons of culture, poverty, or broken infrastructure, can’t take precautions at all. In other words, Reagan had years to think about the subject before speaking (although his government was working on AIDS before he spoke), while Obama is staring at pandemic that has the potential to attack America the way the plague struck Athens in 430 B.C.
Bottom line: While Reagan erred in keeping his mouth shut in 1940s gentleman-like fashion, the two diseases are not comparable. Given Ebola’s speed of transmission and the difficulty in controlling its rate of infection, it is the height of irresponsibility for Obama to treat the problem as a political one, rather than a public health crisis with imminent and ominous overtones.
And now back to your regularly scheduled round-up:
Why did the US interfere with Israel’s search for a kidnapped soldier during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge?
It doesn’t seem to be a secret to anybody at this point in the Obama administration that Obama personally and the administration as a general matter are hostile to Israel. But just how strong is that hostility? In today’s Jewish Press, Lori Lowenthal Marcus tells how the US shut down the search for a kidnapped Israeli soldier and says that it’s time to find out why the US put the kibosh on the request:
The request [for American aid] was coursing through channels when all of a sudden the doors slam shut. An ordinary request that by all rights and beliefs should have been processed swiftly by one ally for another was peremptorily quashed. The request was denied and instead the U.S. prosecutors who had already geared up to assist our ally were told to stand down. Someone, somewhere in the U.S. government had decided instead that a formal, lengthy process was required, one that completely ignored the immediacy of the situation. That message was sent in an email from the FBI.
But the FBI does not make foreign policy decisions. It was not the FBI who yanked the lifeline from the Israeli captured behind enemy lines. So who did?
Obama’s mad as Hell and he’s not going to take it anymore
Obama’s standard line when his administration is shown to be corrupt or incompetent is to say that he’s as surprised as anyone else to learn about the trouble, that he’s mad as Hell (which is his most recent pronouncement about the CDC’s Ebola response), and that he’s going to go looking for some ass to kick. This response was arguably an acceptable line to take when Obama first became president, because he inherited much of the bureaucracy in place during the Bush administration.
Now, though, six years into Obama’s presidency, the ass he should kick should be his own. A fish rots from the head, and Obama is the head of this lumbering, incompetent monster that we call the federal government.
Oh, and while I’m on the subject, I read somewhere (and I don’t remember where), that Americans shouldn’t expect the federal government to be instantly efficient when it comes to Ebola. After all, we’re the ones who are always saying that Big Government is a problem because it’s inherently inefficient. And that’s true . . . for Big Government. The thing is that epidemic management is a core government function. If the government wasn’t futzing away its time and our money sticking its nose into and trying to control everything under the sun, it might show a bit more competence when it comes to the jobs it’s actually supposed to do — like preparing for epidemic diseases at home and abroad. A conservative’s whole point is that government should be small, and that it’s reasonable to expect small government to function efficiently if it sticks within its purview.
Obama continues his obstinate refusal to block flights and immigrants from West Africa
Obama did a weekly address today assuring Americans that the Ebola crisis is under control. For the most part, it was standard and appropriate. He told people that the federal government knows what it’s doing and that Ebola isn’t really that contagious at all (“I’ve met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who’ve treated Ebola patients.”) Of course, whether anybody believes our serial liar in chief, especially when the evidence of their own eyes tells them something other than what he’s saying) is a different question. I prefer to get my information from sources other than our president.
What did surprise me was Obama’s stubborn insistence that nothing’s going to stop him from keeping our borders open to West Africans:
Finally, we can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging. Our medical experts tell us that the best way to stop this disease is to stop it at its source-before it spreads even wider and becomes even more difficult to contain. Trying to seal off an entire region of the world-if that were even possible-could actually make the situation worse. It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back and forth. Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track.
That’s one of the stupidest things Obama has said to date, and that’s saying something. There is absolutely no reason we can’t at least take steps to ensure that a specific region of the world has minimal contact with us for the time being. Americans understand that there will always be people who slip through the cracks, but that as a general matter, it’s wise to slow the flow of West African travelers into America. Moreover, a government that can make every plane trip a living nightmare for Americans can certainly put some barriers in place against West African travelers.
Americans also understand that announcing a stop to West African flights is not the same as announcing that America will henceforth stop giving aid to West Africa. We know that the government can exempt itself from the travel ban and ensure continued American aid to that region, in terms of both personnel and supplies. After all, Obama just sent the Marines there, complete with their four hours of training in how to prevent the spread of Ebola.
I’m pretty certain that Obama’s stubbornness on this issue has nothing to do with protecting Americans, and everything to do with making sure that it doesn’t look as if America is keeping out black people.
With Ebola, it’s the strippers who take the lead
Thank God that at least some people have a sense of social responsibility — people like the two male Texas strippers who have voluntarily quarantined themselves after discovering that they sat within a few feet of Amber Vinson, the nurse who flew while becoming symptomatic with Ebola:
Goode and a stripper pal, Taylor Cole, voluntarily pulled themselves out of circulation after the pair sat near an infected nurse on a Cleveland-to-Dallas flight. They vowed to stay in their homes for 21 days, a move suggested — but not required — by the CDC.
“It doesn’t take an intelligent person to make a good decision,” Goode, who comes from a family of pharmacists, told the Daily News. “If a stripper can make a decision that’s more responsible than the CDC, then surely other people can make those decisions, too. It’s not rocket science.”
Am I the only one who finds troubling the fact that two strippers have more sense and decency than the American president?
Jonah Goldberg explains why Ebola is so devastating to the Left
When I grow up, I want to write (and think) like Jonah Goldberg. Really:
Liberals believe in government. I don’t just mean they believe in it as an institution — conservatives and, yes, libertarians, believe in the institution of government. After all, what is all this reverence for the Constitution about if you don’t believe in the government it establishes? No, liberals believe in government as a source of meaning, as a shaper of souls (though don’t ask them to use the word “soul”), a creator of values, and a reliable tool for the guiding hand of progressive experts to rightly order our lives. As the opening video at the Democratic convention proclaimed without a sense of irony: “Government is the one thing we all belong to.”
And this is why government incompetence, or even mere government fallibility and error, present a unique problem for the Party of Government. To be fair, plenty of smart liberals can concede that government gets stuff wrong. But it’s always a difficult concession to make. And if you divide up such concessions between instances where liberals place the blame squarely on government itself and instances where they blame politicians for not going “all the way” with government, you find that the vast majority fall into the category of “if only we had more government.” The overwhelming majority of liberal critiques of Obamacare, for instance, hinge on the complaint that it didn’t go far enough. If only we went with single payer, and completely chased the moneychangers out of the temple of health care, everything would be fine. The War on Poverty failed because $20 trillion amounts to woeful underfunding when measured against the yardstick of the infinite funding liberals desire.
In crude Marxist terms, liberals have a theory of infallible government that is constantly at war with the reality of life. Hence the old joke(s): “Sure it works in practice, but does it work in theory?”
A few words about California’s “Yes Means Yes” law
As you know, California has enacted a “Yes Means Yes” law requiring students in California’s colleges and universities to get affirmative consent every step of the way when they engage in amorous activities.
“May I remove your jacket?”
“May I remove your shirt?”
“Yes. And may I remove your shirt?”
“Yes. And may I remove your bra?”
“Yes. May I unbuckle your belt?”
Some may be tempted to take short cuts (“May I remove all your clothes?”) but that would be dangerous to do, given the law’s draconian consequences.
Ezra Klein, who has worked harder than most to ensure that America’s media is a hard-working arm of the Democrat party, wrote an article applauding the law, even as he acknowledged that it would lead to kangaroo courts. Klein has been properly indoctrinated by feminists and understands that all men are rapists at heart. Therefore, it’s exceedingly important that as many as possible be publicly humiliated and destroyed, whether they’re innocent or not, so as to make a point.
(Given Klein’s standards, I think he should be banned from watching the nightly news. Otherwise, me might start getting ideas from ISIS and begin demanding that people who are accused of violating Progressive feminist norms, whether innocent or guilty, get crucified so as to strike fear into the hearts of other social troglodytes who might be contemplating wolf whistles, holding doors open for pregnant women, or offering their seats to old ladies.)
Klein’s position was a bridge to far even for fellow progressives. He therefore found himself in the unusual position of getting attacked from both Left and Right. He therefore did what you’d expect a young, much-feted, politically Left narcissist to do: he doubled down on his position. Robert Shibley, of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, went after Klein’s latest effort with the written equivalent of a howitzer, and his fisking is a joy to read.
Shibley manages to touch upon everything, from the law’s fundamental unenforceability, to the Left’s continued infantilization of American women, to the fake “rape crisis” on America’s campuses and, most importantly, to the misanthropic witch hunts that take place on America’s college campuses. Across the land — and now with extra ammunition in California — academic tribunals intended for plagiarism and cheating scandals, are hauling students (invariably male) before kangaroo courts and, in proceedings completely free of even minimal due process protections, adjudicating alleged felonies and destroying men’s lives in the process.
Oh, and while I’m on the subject of faux rapes, nouveau feminist Lena Dunham (she of the bad prose and excessively naked body) backed of slight from her claim that a Young Republican raped her while she was at college. I’ve already pointed out that, while Dunham calls it rape, her own description of the evening shows that she was wasted and, lacking rational capacity, ended up having sex with someone she found unappealing. The next day, when she decided that she regretted that sex, she and her roommate decided it was rape.
Perhaps because I’m not the only one who noticed her despicable accusation, one founded in remorse over her own behavior rather than the young man’s actual conduct, Dunham sent out this defensive tweet that seems to exonerate her alleged attacker of evil intent:
Some men are enraged by stories of sexual assault that don’t have clear cut villains, pimps or men with guns…
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) October 18, 2014
Read more here about Dunham’s “rape” claims. It’s apparent that they have little to do with actual rape but, instead, are grounded equally in misanthropy, hostility to the GOP, and the same exhibitionism that sees her slough off her clothes at the slightest opportunity. Dunham should be shut down. Her position is an insult to all women, throughout history, who have suffered the horror of a genuine rape attack, rather than a burst of regret about their own promiscuous, drunken behavior.
The answer to my request for a poster showing the difference between ID for voting and buying guns
And a few pictures
I found these pictures myself, so they’re not as good as the ones that Caped Crusader, Sadie, and other readers send me. Sorry.
Ebola in America is a failure of Big Government
Yesterday I pointed out that, in all times and all places, protecting a population from epidemic disease is one of government’s core functions. (It’s irrelevant that these efforts often failed; government was still expected to make them.) Obama is failing that most basic government task. Not only do we have Ebola in Dallas, with exposures going into the hundreds, it appears that Ebola has entered Washington D.C. too.
What’s striking about Ebola’s spread into the U.S. is that it’s not just an Obama failure, it’s a Big Government failure. The Obama failure begins with his absolute refusal to protect our air, land, and sea borders. The Big Government failure goes to Obama’s certainty that he needn’t do anything special to combat Ebola because Big Government will be sufficient in and of itself to protect us:
The chances of an Ebola outbreak in the United States are “extremely low,” Obama said. U.S. are working with officials in Africa “to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States.” And then this:
In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home. We’re working to help flight crews identify people who are sick, and more labs across our country now have the capacity to quickly test for the virus. We’re working with hospitals to make sure that they are prepared, and to ensure that our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.
Obama added that in the unlikely event an Ebola case appeared in the United States, “we have world-class facilities and professionals ready to respond. And we have effective surveillance mechanisms in place.”
As Rich Lowry explains in the article from which I quoted, everything Obama assumed about his wonderful Big Government was wrong. Rather than blocking Ebola, Big Government just provided that many more cracks through which the virus could slip.
Scratch an anti-gun Leftist; find a blood-thirsty killer
When news about Ebola in Dallas broke, one of my old high school friends, who has had a political trajectory precisely the opposite of mine (from moderate guy to hard-core Leftist), voiced the wish that the patient had, instead, been in Austin (Texas’s state capitol) and that, while there, he had spread bodily fluids on the Republican politicians, starting with Governor Perry. When I politely pressed him for a reason, he explained that it was because these politicians had cut back government services, adding belatedly that he was just kidding.
Sometimes, though, Leftists go from “just kidding” to “let’s kill them.” Charles C.W. Cooke looks at anti-gun Leftists who want to use SWATting tactics to try to kill legal gun carriers. That is, when they see someone with legal open carry, they are proposing that they should call 911 and describe a dangerous situation in the hope that the SWAT teams will show up and, expecting the worst, just kill the guy with legal carry.
Indeed, Cooke, who spoke with gun-expert extraordinaire Bob Owens, writes at Bearing Arms, suggests that this is precisely what may have happened to John Crawford at the Ohio Wal-Mart:
[Crawford] was killed because, to borrow a phrase from Lisa McLogan Shaheen, a fellow shopper “called 911 so the cops could gun him down.” “If you sync the phone call to the footage,” Bob Owens tells me, “you’ll notice that Ronald Ritchie, the caller, makes claims that are not true.” Among those claims, the Guardian records, were that “Crawford was pointing the air rifle at customers,” that he threatened “two children,” and that he was recklessly “waving it around.” This does not appear to have been the case. Indeed, when the lattermost statement was made, Owens notes, “the gun’s muzzle was pointed to the ground.” So pronounced are the discrepancies between Ritchie’s story and the surveillance footage that John Crawford’s family is hoping to take legal action. “He’s basically lying with the dispatchers,” the family’s attorney, Michael Wright argues. “He’s making up the story. So should he be prosecuted? Yes, I believe so.”
“Who will rid us of these troublesome gun owners?” the radical Leftists cry out . . . and then use America’s police officers as their unwitting executioners.
Did Jerry Brown sign a good gun bill or a bad gun bill?
I am reflexively opposed to any government interference with gun rights . . . except that I’m wondering whether the bill that Gov. Brown just signed in California might actually have some merit. The new bill allows family members who are concerned about another family member’s gun possession to petition to the court to have the gun(s) taken away.
On the one hand, the bill is another erosion of gun rights and allows anti-gun people to wipe out the gun rights of their pro-gun relatives. Moreover, as we can see from the SWATting tactics above, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Leftist family members won’t take advantage of this law. On the other hand, when someone is becoming dangerous, the family is often the first to know, long before the medical or criminal justice systems catch up.
And then back to the first hand, which is that, if you give the government an inch to grab guns, it will take, not just a mile, but a thousand miles…. Which leads me to the thought that this may be a reasonable law, but one that can’t ever be entrusted to the government to effectuate.
Please tell me what you think. I’m quite obviously conflicted here, in part because I know of several young men who, in their 20s, become schizophrenic, with the family being the first to see that their sweet young boy was becoming scary and dangerous.
History has yet to be written
Jonah Goldberg often attacks the Leftists’ claim that they’re on the right side of history. The old cliché that history belongs to the victors is at least somewhat more accurate, because it at least looks at history as a thing of the past not as a prediction for the future.
In his latest article, Goldberg points out that one of the problems with the “right side of history” argument is that it’s predicated on the speaker’s belief that events will unfold without any unexpected deviations from plan. When the plans change, as the best laid of them tend to do, the person betting on historic certainty looks foolish at best:
The dilemma for the president is that the once-solid facts that supported these views are suddenly crumbling under his feet. The argument that the fight against jihadism can be managed like law enforcement is easy to make when terrorism is out of the headlines and drones do the messy work out of sight. That same argument is very hard to sustain when the jihadis control territory equal in size to Great Britain and, when not beheading Americans, they vow to fly their flag over the White House. The idea that men who crucify Christians and bury women and children alive would somehow be dissuaded if we closed down the prison at Guantanamo Bay is almost perversely idiotic.
Obama’s love affair with a killer
In 2008, Obama sent an explicit, secret message to Iran, saying in effect “I love you, guys, and I’ll take care of you.” That was one promise he kept. Throughout his presidency, Obama, both actively and passively has worked hard to keep the mullahs in power and their nuclear program on track. He seems to believe that, if he can just be nice to them, they’ll respond by being nice right back to us.
It’s a pity that Obama hates Churchill so much. If he liked him better, Obama be familiar with Churchill’s famous aphorism that “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” That hope, of course, is invariably wrong.
Maybe real facts can bring Obama to see just how horrible Iran is. These harsh realities would include the fact that Iran hanged someone for doubting the story of Jonah and the Whale (something that would certainly see Obama hanged too), and the Mullahs’ continued execution of dissidents.
The only good thing to come out of that second report is this little tidbit (emphasis mine):
On September 29, [political prisoner Reyhaneh] Jabbari was seized by prison guards during her shower, forced to dress and told that she would be hanged in the morning. After the prison staff allowed her to make one last phone call to her mother, she was transferred to Rajai-Shahr prison and placed in solitary confinement to await execution at dawn.
Upon her daughter’s transfer, Jabbari’s mother, Shole Pakravan, rushed to Rajai-Shahr prison with her husband, two daughters and a few friends. In front of the prison a crowd grew quickly to protest Jabbari’s execution. Prison authorities ordered the crowd to leave and assured Jabbari’s family that she was not to be hanged — a statement the authorities commonly make before an execution so it can be carried out quietly, without incident.
That rope with which the mad mullahs hang dissidents may end up being the rope with which they hang themselves. It speaks to their waning power that Iranians will protest executions and that the mullahs will lie to pacify them, rather than just killing them on the spot.
And no, in answer to your unspoken question, I don’t think these news reports will actually change Obama’s mind. He is a hard-core ideologue and they just don’t change. But I can still dream….
Bureaucracy kills the Secret Service
For more than a century, the Secret Service was a lean, mean fighting machine operating under the aegis of the Treasury Department. Then, George Bush transferred it to Homeland Security, where it became just another bureaucratic beast. Kevin Williamson writes scathingly about the way in which bureaucracy is slowly destroying the agency charged with keeping our president safe.
I share with Thomas Lifson the belief that it’s imperative to keep Obama alive. His death in office, God forbid, could well destroy this country. And having written that sentence, I should add that no president, ever, should be assassinated. Assassination is not only cold-blooded murder, it is a psychic blow to a nation and the most profoundly anti-democratic act of all.
Transgenderism is only skin deep
The other day, I wrote about the importance of recognizing the substance that lies under any form, with special reference to transgender people. I argued that, when people make cosmetic, hormonal, and surgical changes to their appearance so that they look like a person of the opposite sex, that doesn’t change their genetic essence. While it’s kind and polite to address them as they wish to be addressed, we should never blind ourselves to the reality of who and what they really are.
One British man who had male to female gender reassignment surgery a decade ago, is petitioning the British health care service to reassign him to his original gender appearance. His argument echoes what I’ve been saying all along:
Chelsea, who used to be called Matthew, told the Daily Mirror: “I have always longed to be a woman, but no amount of surgery can give me an actual female body and I feel like I am living a lie.
“It is exhausting putting on make-up and wearing heels all the time. Even then I don’t feel I look like a proper woman. I suffered from depression and anxiety as a result of the hormones too.
“I have realised it would be easier to stop fighting the way I look naturally and accept that I was born a man physically.”
I wonder what the NHS will do. It’s wonderfully politically correct to withdraw funding from an old lady with cancer so as to give it to a young man who wants breasts. Where’s the political correctness, though, when the young man concedes that the problem was never with his appearance at all?
High educated liberals as low information voters
Roger L. Simon lives in the Southern California version of my Marin world: His neighbors are well-intentioned, affluent, and highly-credentialed people who almost invariably hew Left politically. Indeed, those few of my friends and neighbors who know I’ve become conservative point to themselves — affluent and educated — and ask how I can be conservative when the smart people support the Democrats.
Simon has the answer for that and, again, it echoes what I see in my world: These people may have degrees, know about wine, and have seen the capitals of Europe, but they’re fundamentally ignorant about the key issues shaping the world today.
California bans all plastic bags
California Governor Jerry Brown has banned plastic grocery bags from the entire state:
California has fired the first salvo in what could be a national war on plastic bags.
Governor Edmund Brown [sic, since he usually goes by Jerry] on Tuesday signed into law a bill that bans plastic shopping bags, making California the first U.S. state to officially prohibit stores from handing them out for free.
“This bill is a step in the right direction — it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” Brown said in a statement. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
The ban is a victory for environmentalists who say the 13 million plastic bags that are handed out each year in the state end up in waterways and landfills where they don’t break down for decades. Critics argue that the ban is misguided and will cost American jobs.
The new law goes into effect for large grocery chains and pharmacies beginning July 1, 2015. It will extend to convenience stores and liquor stores July 1, 2016.
Under the law, stores will be required to offer customers recycled paper bags or bags made of compostable material at a cost of at least 10 cents. Consumers buying groceries using California’s food-assistance program won’t have to pay for bags.
For me, the ban is nothing new, since it’s already enforced in parts of Marin. Corte Madera stores haven’t been applying either the ban or the “pay 10 cents” requirement, so I prefer shopping in Corte Madera over Mill Valley, which does ban plastic and makes you pay for paper.
I’ve written before about the fact that this ban steams me. I don’t mind if other people want to go around looking like bag ladies with their stacks of dirty cloth and plastic bags, but (a) I don’t want to look like a bag lady; (b) I’d have to use insane amounts of water to keep those bags from being salmonella and e. coli breeding grounds; and (c) even a 10 cent penalty is still a penalty and I don’t believe I should be penalized in this way.
It’s balm to my offended soul to read a PRI study saying that, as is the case with most of the Left’s wild hairs, they’ve got it wrong when it comes to the supposed virtues of banning disposable paper and plastic bags:
Proponents of bag-bans omit the most important consideration, which is what replaces the plastic bags? Other bags (including cloth) have even worse environmental impact profiles, and pose additional risks of cross-contaminating food and spreading dangerous pathogens among those who share the bags.
Increasingly, studies suggest that as with other poorly-thought out environmental intervention; banning plastic grocery bags reduces some harms, while increasing others.
And more environmental news about Leftist’s continued errors
Both these stories come to me thanks to Danny Lemieux. The first story says that, once again, scientists were wrong, this time with regard to the anticipated shrimp die-off in the Gulf following the BP oil spill. In fact, the shrimp seem to like that oil:
Looking at the abundance and size of Louisiana white and brown shrimp before and after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a scientific paper published Wednesday said the amount of shrimp actually increased in local estuaries through 2011 and that the size of that shrimp remained unaffected.
Van der Ham and De Mutsert’s study compared abundance and size of shrimp in estuaries that were heavily impacted by the spill with minimally-impacted estuaries, both before and after the spill.
It found that shrimp actually was more abundant in areas heavily impacted by the oil spill.
“The rebound to normal abundance and the absence of any effect on shrimp size agrees with the view that the spill may have negligible long-term effects on Louisiana shrimp,” the study concluded. “However, long-term effects of the spill on shrimp may manifest in other traits, such as compromised immunological or life-history traits.
Don’t you just love that last paragraph? What the study’s authors could have said was “we are still studying whether there are other long-term effects on the shrimp.” But they don’t. Instead, they imply that there must in fact be negative long-term effects on the shrimp, just waiting to be found. That’s the difference, I guess, between true scientific inquiry and ideologically-driven inquiry.
The second story is about those “green” wind farms. They’re killing hundreds of thousands of precious bats (which fertilizer crops and are otherwise environmentally useful) because they mimic the wind pattern of trees.
One French woman deserves a medal for her bravery
Check out this picture and tell me if this isn’t one seriously brave French woman.
And one West African woman deserves a medal too
Fatu Kekula, a 22-year-old nursing student in West Africa, using nothing more than courage, common sense, and garbage bags, nursed three out of four stricken family members through Ebola without becoming infected herself. What an amazing story of intelligence and decency in action.
Watcher’s Council Weasel of the Week
Don’t forget to check out this Week’s winner in the Watcher’s Council Weasel of the Week contest. My daughter came in as I was casting my vote by email. She saw “I vote for ____________.” She was shocked. “But you hate ____________.” When I explained the type of vote I was casting, it all became clear to her.
I’m not yet ready for an illustrated edition today, but this poster that a friend sent me is so good, I didn’t want to wait before sharing it:
Over the past several years, our town and the next town over have worked hard to bring disaster preparedness from the government level down to the community level. Neighborhood emergency disaster preparedness operates on the assumption that, in the event of a major emergency, government will not be there to help.
Here in Marin, we don’t base this assumption on a concern that our government emergency services are corrupt, under-funded, or inept. Indeed, I’d say that the contrary is true in Marin. Our local emergency services (fire, police, ambulance) are excellent: They’re well-funded, there’s never been a smidgen of corruption, and the people on all these forces are enthusiastic, hard-working and well-trained.
These emergency services, though, exist for routine events: a house fire, a robbery, a traffic accident. They are not intended to handle a massive earthquake — nor should they be. Given that earthquakes happen at completely random, and usually lengthy, intervals, it would be insane for our community to fund in perpetuity emergency services large enough to cope with a rare (but still inevitable) disaster.
Given funding realities, should “the Big One” (as Bay Area residents refer to the next anticipated earthquake) hit, it’s a reasonable certainty that people in our community will find themselves going for three to ten days without any access to emergency services, food, potable water, first aid, and shelter. This is where we have a choice: we can wait helpless for government first responders, or we can be our own first responders, taking responsibility for ourselves and our neighbors.
Here’s how it works: At the most basic level, every household should purchase the life-sustaining supplies needed for three to ten days without access to stores, hospitals, fresh water, and shelter. The rule of thumb is that neighbors will pool resources for a day or two, but it if looks as if the emergency conditions will last any longer than that, it’s every household for itself.
Unfortunately, while it’s easy enough to say “Buy supplies,” the reality is that most people are governed by inertia. Too many people really do mean to stock up the next time they’re at Costco or Safeway, but when the time comes, they forget, or they haven’t made a place to put the supplies, or they just don’t feel up to the rigors of buying all the stuff, loading it in the car, and then unloading it again at the other side. They’ll do it another day, they tell themselves. Somehow, though, that other day never arrives.
What turns out to be the best system to ensure that the greatest number of households act intelligently before, during, and after a disaster is a neighborhood preparedness committee. When a newspaper article reminds you to stock up supplies, you might think “Eh, I’ll get it done eventually.” When your neighbor sits on your couch with you and explains what you need and how to get it, it lights a bigger fire, and ensures greater effort. Likewise, when you get yet another email from yet another organization, you might ignore it. But when a neighbor hosts a party to take about basic information (supplies, gathering spots, knowing who your neighbors are, etc.), there’s a greater likelihood you’ll be there, you’ll listen, and you’ll learn.
An organized neighborhood is also extraordinarily helpful when the disaster does strike. This is the neighborhood that will have given already ensured that homeowners have supplies and that they know how to turn off their gas and prevent potentially contaminated water from flowing into their homes. A prepared community will have block captains who go to the houses on their watch to make sure gas lines are closed, to perform the most basic injury triage (and first aid, if necessary), and to gather information about everyone’s whereabouts and status. In this neighborhood, homeowners will have signs to place in their windows so that the block captain instantly see whether that home is “OK” or needs “HELP.” (Even OK homes will eventually get a visit, but not on the first, triage pass.) If homes are destroyed, the prepared neighborhood will know where the emergency gathering spot is.
Lastly and most importantly, when the government “first responders” eventually show up (long after the neighborhood has already provided the actual first response), the organized neighborhood will be able to offer easily accessible information about fatalities, injuries, local dangers (leaking gas lines, downed electrical lines, etc.). Experience shows that this level of preparedness results in the fastest attention from government emergency services. This isn’t a case of bias or bribes on the government’s part; it’s a case of the path of least resistance. If an emergency care provider has heading towards him a level-headed person with a list and a screaming mad-woman, he’ll turn gratefully to the list holder and try to pass the mad-woman off to someone else.
All over Marin, local communities have been accelerating their efforts to get organized. As more neighborhoods prepare, those neighborhoods that don’t will be left out in the cold. Their homes will be bare of survival essentials, their response to an actual disaster will be chaotic, and emergency services will give them the cold shoulder in favor of other, better-organized neighborhoods.
In my neighborhood, I’ve been invited to join the steering committee. You won’t be surprised to learn that my role is communications. As a committee member, I now get to attend the community-wide meetings for representatives of all the neighborhood organizations. When I went to last night’s meeting (my first), whom should I see but our own Charles Martel?
At first, I was surprised to see Charles. I shouldn’t have been. For starters, he’s an exceptionally decent and intelligent human being, so it made total sense that he would volunteer himself to be in the front line of organization and preparedness both before and during a disaster. It’s more than that, though. Charles is a principled conservative who believes that government cannot and should not be responsible for everything in our lives. We know what that looks like:
Conservatives recognize that government cannot be responsible for every eventuality in our lives. More than that, we understand that it should not be responsible for all things, because that gives it way too much power.
Understanding these facts is one thing. Acting upon them is another. We conservatives like to focus on trying to elect politicians who promise small government. Too often, though, once they’re in Washington or a state capital, these politicians either prove to be an ineffectual minority or, worse, they come down with “government spending disease” and think their responsibility ends with keeping the price tag down on yet another Big Government initiative.
What we all can and should do is something closer to home: We should be at the front lines when it comes to encouraging people to take care of themselves. When there’s a vacuum, government will fill it. If we make sure to fill that vacuum before government does, we’ve done our bit to help shrink Big Government. At the same time, we’ve also ensured that we will be in better shape in the long run than those who believe that Big Government is the one and only answer.
Having said that, I’d like to request help from you, my fellow citizens: Because I am a procrastinator, I understand better than many the inertia that prevents people from getting in their car, driving to the local mall, and stocking up on home earthquake supplies. I’ve found that one of the ways to fight that procrastination is to make the shopping so easy that even the most shopping-averse, lazy, in denial person has no excuses. The answer, of course, is Amazon — and, even better, Amazon Prime. You can shop from your home, at your leisure, and everything comes straight to your door. What could be better?
The problem with Amazon, though, is that there are too many choices. A single person could spend a lifetime trying to find the best quality, best priced emergency supplies at Amazon. I’d rather use crowd sourcing.
My goal is to put together an Amazon shopping list that has on it the most highly recommended emergency supplies, everything from paper plates to can openers to flash lights to toilet paper to can openers to foil-sealed water (lasts 5 years) to food stuff to first aid kits. I know that not everyone should, will, or wants to everything from Amazon, but I still want a vetted list that enables someone looking for any or all necessary supplies can trust to provide purchase information.
Vetted supplies suitable for my Amazon earthquake list must be (a) high quality and (b) best price, keeping in mind the purpose for which the supplies are intended. No one wants to buy a $900, 10-person, all-weather tent for a possible emergency when Amazon offers a highly rated, easy-to-assemble, some-weather tent for $110 dollars. It’s even better if the tent ships free using Prime or it qualifies for Amazon’s “free shipping for purchases over $35.
So here’s my request: If you have purchased emergency supplies lately from Amazon, and you feel that your purchase meets my “vetted supplies” criteria, please send me a link for that product, either through an email (bookwormroom * at * gmail.com) or by leaving a comment here.
Mistakes. We all make them. Lord knows, anyone reading my blog knows that there are days when I can call myself the Mistake Queen. I’m a careless typist and a lousy proofreader, especially when rushed or stressed, two things that describe me most of the time. I have a large fund of facts squirreled away in my brain, but I still get facts wrong and am always grateful when those more knowledgeable than I correct them. I’m a savvy internet user, but not infrequently fall prey to false information on the internet (especially falsely attributed quotations that dovetail too perfectly with my beliefs).
Here’s the deal, though: My mistakes have minimal impact. They amuse some and offend others. When I learn about them, I’ll correct them (unless they’re ancient typos). I don’t want to make mistakes because my credibility and quality are at issue, but nobody’s going to die or go broke because I’ve made a typo.
The same holds true when individuals in government make mistakes. For example, Earl tipped me off to a very funny one from the offices of Rep. Paul Cook (R., Cal. 8th Dist.). I have no bone to pick with Cook. He’s a retired Marine colonel and Vietnam Vet, and he deserves full honors for both those things. He’s a Republican and I’ll happily assume for now that he’s not a RINO. Without further information, therefore, Rep. Cook is all good things and I wish him much success.
But the stuff that comes out of his office! Oy vey!! His staff recently mailed out a flyer to his constituents. The flyer had on its cover this stirring image:
So far so good. We like Congressmen who look first to the Constitution before passing laws. The problem comes with the survey included with the mailing:
Please think long and hard about how you would answer Question No. 2. If pressed, I would pick “unsure,” only because, of all the answers that make no sense, it’s most honestly acknowledges the inevitable bewilderment the question creates.
So it’s not just me messing up. This kind of carelessness, thoughtlessness, illogical, foolishness, or whatever else you’d like to call it, is an inherent part of human nature. The problems begin when we give these careless humans too much power. The fact that Rep. Cook has silly people in his office says nothing about him and his agenda. Likewise, although it was good for a laugh, you can’t fault every Democrat for some foolish drone’s reference to Reagan’s hitherto unknown years in Congress.
The contrary is true, though, when we’re looking at mistakes in an all- (or almost all-) powerful organization, such as a modern federal bureaucracy. In that context, mistakes can be catastrophic. And that’s precisely what Jim Geraghty touches upon in his National Review article about the fact that liberals cannot govern — they have put too much power into entities whose mistakes are devastating and whose self-correcting mechanisms non-existent:
In most professions, when you end up spending ten times what you budgeted, the consequences are swift and severe. Heads roll. Responsibilities are reassigned. Budgetary authority gets yanked. This, of course, is not how things work in the federal government.
Liberals’ belief in the inherent goodness of a far-reaching federal government drives them to avert their eyes from its wildest abuses, even when they are occurring right in front of them. Waste and mismanagement are ignored, dismissed, downplayed, and excused, because confronting them too directly would undermine the central tenet of their worldview: that the federal government is an irreplaceable tool for making the world a better place.
I hope I’m not being too mean when I point to Rep. Paul Cook’s silly flyer as a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with big government, even if that government is not actively malevolent and partisan. When careless error comes out of a single Congressman’s office, it’s inconsequential; when it comes out of an all-powerful, unconstrained bureaucracy, it ought to scare the Hell out of each one of us.
The Cato Institute is putting together a series of videos to identify government agencies that are not merely wasteful, but are also destructive to our country’s well-being. This video, attacking the horribly misnamed Department of Education, is one of the five videos Cato has already created:
Of course, the above video brings coals to Newcastle. Those who watch it already agree with its premise, although it’s nice to have hard facts to back up our sometimes inchoate sense of outrage. What I would love is to see every liberal I know watching the video. Sadly, though, I know with absolute certainty that none will dare. They are resolute in their desire to avoid contact with any information that might disrupt their New York Times world view.
Hat tip: Power Line