Wednesday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s quite amazing watching DemProg heads explode on my “real me” Facebook page. To hear them tell it, the Hobby Lobby decision was four white religious men banning women’s right to contraception across America because a mean-spirited Christian corporation demanded that they do so.

I’ve been doing my best to say that (a) Hobby Lobby always provided a broad range of contraception coverage to its employees, and is only protesting the fact that the government is forcing it to pay for contraception that can be used to cause abortions; and (b) that the Court’s narrow holding said only that the Health & Human Services contraception mandate, which is not law under Obamacare, does not pass the test set by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which President Clinton approvingly signed. My comments are greeted with silence.

But there’s no room for silence here. I have a lot to say, and I delight in your comments. So off we go….

***

I may as well start with a good Hobby Lobby round-up. All of these posts were very helpful when I was trying to craft a short, fact-filled response to confused DemProgs on Facebook.

Both Elizabeth Warren’s and Hillary Clinton’s responses to the decision show that (a) it’s amazing they graduated from law school, let alone, in Warren’s case, became teachers and (b) that they’re each as bad as the other, and that’s saying a lot. Let me say again what I learned from taking Warren’s Banking Law class a long time ago: she’s soft-spoken and mean; she’s a muddled thinker; she’s an incoherent communicator; and there’s a lot of anger there. (Warning:  this article might be behind a pay wall, but you can demolish that pay wall for a mere 99 cents per month.)

I found an exceptionally good trio of cases from the crew at National Review (which really excels at this type of analysis:

Charles C. W. Cooke points out that a great deal of the DemProg’s hysteria derives from the fact that they don’t understand that the Supreme Court’s role is to interpret law, not to enact it. That’s not surprising. DemProgs want their (not any, but their) president to enact law and, trained by Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade — both of which involved the Court creating rights out of whole cloth, for better or worse — actually believe that the court exists to enact a DemProg-approved agenda.

Ramesh Ponnuru explains how illogical, hysterical, and unrealistic Ruth Ginsburg was in her dissent — something that explains why DemProgs are so wildly excited by what she wrote.

Ross Douthat notes that DemProgs are exceptionally sore, and dishonest, winners. This reflects the fact that the Hobby Lobby decision peeled out a tiny corner of religious freedom in the face of a vast government takeover of . . . everything.

And finally, one of Jonah Goldberg’s best, in which he explains out that it wasn’t the Court putting the employer in women’s uterus, it was the Obama administration. That accurate analysis kind of puts a different spin on this poster, which DemProgs are excitedly passing around through social media:

Who makes medical decisions

***

Obama’s a chart topper: After thinking it over, Americans agree that Barack Obama is the worst president this country has seen since the end of WWII (and Ronald Reagan is the best). The only problem with this confirmation of my bias is that, for me to be proved right, the country has had to suffer terribly. It’s no fun being Cassandra.

***

On the subject of Obamacare, Kevin Williamson allows himself a bit of schadenfreude, and it makes for brilliant reading.

***

When I heard about the IRS’s “dog at my hard drive” excuse for the missing emails from Lois Lerner and six other key employees, I immediately said “that’s spoliation” and it’s bad.  It turns out that  the IRS’s conduct was even worse than I remembered at the time I made this statement.

The IRS wasn’t just hiding stuff from Congress, which could be classified as political game-playing. By the time it lost the emails, the back-up and the hard-drive, it was engaged in litigation that placed upon it a heavy legal burden to do everything possible to preserve any material that could be germane to the lawsuits. A judge with any reverence for the law should come down on the IRS like a ton of bricks for this behavior, even if it was “merely” negligent, as opposed to a deliberate fraud on the court.

***

The Founders did not imagine an America of incredible wisdom, by incredible wisdom, and for incredible wisdom. Madison readily envisioned that the government would be able to function despite man’s worst nature. However, even the Founders’ checks and balances didn’t comprehend a president and his supporters who would willingly cast aside constitutional governance.

Sadly, judging by changes made to the AP US history test, which drives US history curriculum at high schools across America, things aren’t going to get better any time soon. Since our children are prevented from learning the Founders’ wisdom, they can’t institute those ideas into their understanding of government.

And, while Boehner’s lawsuit is a step in the right direction, I remain dubious that it will accomplish anything. I’m with Andrew McCarthy in that I fear it will simply see the House cede power to the courts. At the rate Congress is ceding power to the other branches of government, it becomes nothing but an expensive Kabuki piece.

***

The kind of people who vote for Hillary won’t care that, on July 4th, this potential presidential candidate has decided to spend her time with a British, America-bashing newspaper. That’s what DemProgs do, and they’re damn proud of it too.

***

For years, people have been trying to figure out what the “Obama doctrine” is. Jeffrey Anderson thinks he knows: the Obama doctrine is Obama’s belief that, when Americans voted him into office, they got a twofer — both a president and a legislator.

***

Earlier today, I posted that, whether one agrees or not with the cheerleader who is also a big game hunter, disagreement is not a basis for censorship. DemProg, chart-topping songstress Diane Warren has different idea altogether. She thinks that disagreement is a basis for murder. Assuming Warren survives the coming ISIS sharia takeover, she should fit in quite well with the Islamist mindset.

***

I’m not a BBC fan, but this rap version of WWI’s origins is cute.

***

And finally, pictures!

Democrats are brave enough

Me myself and I

Plenty of room on the calendar

Reasons for owning guns

Illegal immigrants displace veterans

(Thanks to Caped Crusader, the Family Back East, and Earl Aagaard for their help with this post.)

Midday Tuesday round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansies[I've got to run, but I don't want to delay publishing this by two or three hours. I'm therefore publishing as is. Please forgive the inevitable typos.]

I was reading an enjoyable book about the clash between good and evil. I commented to a friend that the only problem with the book was that too many good guys die. I like my books to end with the heroes still intact. He responded that “As to the deaths of good guys, when you’re fighting ultimate evil, some casualties are to be expected, lest ultimate evil be trivialized.”

His comment is correct as an artistic matter. It’s also correct as a practical matter. When we are threatened by evil, it’s the good guys who step and fight — and therefore die — first. The rest of us lurk in corners hoping the conflict will pass us by entirely. When the conflict finally ends, if there’s still a society left to rebuild, too often the good guys are gone and the builders are the cowards, and the whiners, and the useless people.

On that cheerful note, let me dive into what may well be the mother of all round-ups.

***

As if to make my point, I got word today that my fellow Watcher’s Council member, Tom White, who did yeoman’s work helping David Brat’s candidacy and who accurately predicted Brat’s victory, is on the receiving end of threats from the former Chairman of the Republican 3rd District. Tom put himself out there in the best possible way, and now he’s in the line of fire. Tom is more than capable of taking care of himself, but the whole thing is disgusting.

***

Okay, here’s something cheerful: This story illustrates perfectly why an armed society is a civil society and why, to gun-banners’ constant chagrin, when legally held arms increase in number, crime decreases in proportionate number.

***

We’ve all remarked here on the fact that the climate Nazis are remarkably flexible when it comes to attributing everything to anthropomorphic climate factors. Hot summers? Climate change. Cold winters? Climate change. Islamic aggression? Climate change. You know the drill.

It turns out that they’re equally flexible when it comes to data. This flexibility goes beyond the hidden data, the “adjusted” temperatures, and the manufactured hockey sticks. It now includes turning back time.

***

Sometimes a writer phrases something in a way that makes you think “That’s it! That’s what I was trying to say.” I had precisely that response to Stephen Hayward’s article about the corruption of Civil Rights, something that he addresses specifically in the context of the way in which same-sex marriage advocates are targeting businesses and individuals who object to same-sex marriage. Some of you may recall that I long ago argued that the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education was good politics and a morally correct decision, but a legal disaster that led to the corruption of the relationship between individuals, on the one hand, and the law and the state, on the other hand.

***

A few useful and interesting posts about the deaths of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel. Along with all of you, I was horrified, although unsurprised, to learn that the three boys were dead. I’ll say only that it was small consolation to learn that, because Hamas bungled the kidnapping, it killed them instantly rather than torturing them before killing them. As I said, it’s small consolation.

American Jews shouldn’t just weep, they should act. We Jews are always the first in the Islamic cross hairs and our own government has been exceptionally passive about rising Islamism, not to mention the Palestinian/Islamist nexus.

Just how bad was Obama’s behavior? This bad.

Bret Stephens looks at Palestinian mothers, who delight in sending their own children off to murder other children. (It might be behind a pay wall.)

As for the Palestinians and their inveterate sympathizers in the West, perhaps they should note that a culture that too often openly celebrates martyrdom and murder is not fit for statehood, and that making excuses for that culture only makes it more unfit. Postwar Germany put itself through a process of moral rehabilitation that began with a recognition of what it had done. Palestinians who want a state should do the same, starting with the mothers.

These horrible mothers raise children such as these, whose raised three fingers show that they are celebrating the kidnapping and death of three Israeli children:

Muslim kids celebrate death of Israeli teens

***

Mike McDaniel examines both the long, long list of illegal acts in the Obama administration and the power a president has to issue pardons. Adding these two things up leads to some very ugly conclusions.

***

With its despicable tactics to retain Thad Cochran in Congress, the once Grand Old Party betrayed its history and created what may be a very damaging schism in conservative ranks.

Of course, it didn’t help at all that the best known Tea Party groups, to the extent they bothered to show up, used their money ineffectually. My sense about these groups is that they mostly send out lots of emails.

***

I first became aware of Dan Bongino in connection with his impassioned speeches against gun control efforts. He seems to be a very solid conservative, something affirmed by an Open Letter he wrote to America’s political class, both Left and Right.

***

If you’ve been thinking that our federal government is increasingly looking like the government you’d see in a banana republic, here’s fuel for your fire: Congress has quietly done away with rules requiring elected officials to disclose information about trips they take courtesy of lobbyists.

***

In part because the media refuses to play along (unlike its behavior during Watergate), it’s perhaps inevitable that the House’s efforts to go after the IRS are bogging down into a mediocre political spectacle. Fortunately, others are also going after the IRS, including Judicial Watch. The exciting news is that Judicial Watch drew an honest judge — Emmit Sullivan. Judge Sullivan will not countenance any corrupt behavior in a litigation. The IRS’s “computer ate my emails” excuse should end in his courtroom.

***

And remember, even with the IRS, where there’s life, there’s laughter, this time courtesy of plaintiffs suing the IRS:

***

If you think our military is something special, you’re right. This video, of a Marine flyer with broken landing gear nevertheless sticking a landing on an aircraft carrier is epic:

***

Surprisingly enough, on the subject of Hobby Lobby, a writer for The Atlantic tells the Left to cool the hysteria.

***

Sometimes, one persistent individual can make such a big difference. Miriam Noujaim, a Sacramento DMV employee who is a member of SEIU Local 1000, the largest state-employee union, wants to see what the heck the union has been doing to create annual travel expenses that have gone up to $5.21 million. The union doesn’t want anyone to see its records, but Noujaim won’t let go. I have nothing but applause for her pit bull tenacity.

***

Guns are good. Keeping guns away from kids is also good. And this is a clever, slightly risque ad to make that point:

***

William A. Jacobson is putting words to my worst nightmare: He thinks that Elizabeth Warren has the potential to be 2012′s Barack Obama. I don’t know that she would be worse than Obama, but it’s doubtful she’ll be any better. Safe in her million dollar Ivory Tower enclave, Warren is an angry limousine socialist who will aggressively ensure that the government takes over the lives of everyone but for her and her cronies.

***

I’ve mentioned many times the brilliant friend of mine who says that the real issue Islam has with the West is control over women. Muslim men have it and want to keep it. Everything else is ultimately subordinate to their desperate efforts to ensure that women are sexually available to them. Two stories out of Iraq, one about women fearful of rape attacks and the other about ISIS’s demands that the women simply make themselves available for sex, lend credence to my friend’s contention.

***

Oh, this is a good one: Now they’re arguing that doctors should decide who can get a gun. Let me tell you something about the doctor’s in my neck of the woods: If they’re under 50, they’re DemProgs who demand gun control. They’re the last people who should be deciding who gets to exercise Second Amendment rights and who doesn’t.

***

When I first saw this Slate article challenging San Francisco’s housing policies, I thought it would be an intelligent article arguing against rent control. Boy, was I wrong. Instead, it’s part-and-parcel of the administration press to grow urban areas (Democrat strongholds) and kill suburbs (the last gasp of conservative thinking). We’ve been fighting this fight in Marin, where the federal government is trying to turn Marin into part of a vast, urban conglomeration with centralized management taking direction from the feds. No, thank you!

***

Is the Fed heading for the horrible crash that inevitably follows the bubble?

***

Ever since I was slightly taller than knee high to a grasshopper, I’ve known that societies that are friendly to the Jews are also societies that enjoy enormous economic, social, and military success. Societies that try to destroy Jews inevitably fail, not just when it comes to destroying the Jews, but they also fail themselves. Now, I have support from a great video that examines the Israel litmus test:

***

Pictures:

Dyslexic bank robbers

Gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone

Leading cause of hard drive failures

(Thanks to Sadie, Earl, Caped Crusader, and Danny Lemieux, all of whom contributed in some way to this post.)

Saturday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesSaturdays just slip away from me. Now you see ‘em, now you don’t. Suddenly, it’s 1:30, and I’ve accomplished nothing more than making another batch of haroset, which I’m trying to eat in lieu of ice cream. There are things, though, that I’d like to share with you:

The first thing is a plea from the Media Research Center asking for funds to help offset the invaluable assist the Obama administration is getting from a complicit media.  As you know, but too many Americans don’t, the media pretends to the American people that it’s independent, even as it shills and covers for the President. The deadline for this particular fundraiser is tonight, which is why MRC gets top billing here.

***

Speaking of valuable organizations asking for money, the NRA is taking very seriously Michael Bloomberg’s promise to spend $50 million to undermine the Second Amendment in America. The NRA has put together a great fundraising video (see below), and you can donate here if you feel so inclined:

***

Andrew C. McCarthy is one of those guys who has a binary effect on me. Either I love what he writes or I hate it. This time it’s love, as he talks about the way in which Obama is using his pardoning power to nullify drug control legislation. It’s a typical Leftist move, of course. If you’re a Leftist and don’t like legislation or constitutional rights, you don’t go through Congress to repeal or amend them; instead, you simply announce that you’re the Magic Negro, the man who defines what sin is (“being out of alignment with my own values”), the new messiah . . . and you avoid implementing the law and, if so inclined, actually undo its effects.

***

It’s not often that you read in just one article a straightforward, commonsensical, easy-to-understand, comprehensive take-down of the global warming scam. You especially don’t expect to see that kind of thing from a world-renowned emeritus professor and former NASA scientist talking to the Yorkshire Evening Post (a paper I read a lot back in the days when I lived in England).

***

I’ve mentioned before that I had Elizabeth Warren as a professor back in the day. I went into her class ignorant, and came out still ignorant, but also frustrated and confused. Whatever else she was, she was a very poor communicator, which is why I find it so peculiar that the Left considers her a spokesman for their Progressive economic causes. Back in the day, speaking in her breathy, elliptical, somewhat telegraphic way, she managed to say nothing at length.

With those memories in my mind, my metrics say Warren would be a dreadful presidential candidate, so I can understand puckish conservatives urging her to run. Of course, should she run, what will actually happen is that she’ll still be better than Hillary, whom people dislike, and she’ll win the primary.  As the first female Democrat presidential candidate, the press will anoint her and that will be the end of it for any Republican opponent. (On that point, please see again my first item, above, regarding the MRC’s plea for funds to de-fang the press.)

***

Peter Wehner has disturbing RINO tendencies, not to mention the arrogance of his class when it comes to Palin. Nevertheless, he’s an extremely lucid commentator when it comes to honing in on Obama’s failings. I both enjoyed reading and was depressed by Wehner’s elegant laundry list of Obama’a serial failings in every area of presidential endeavor.

***

You know that I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about narcissists. One of the most dangerous things about them is the way their emotional armor means that they are incapable of acknowledging themselves at fault but must, instead, always deflect blame onto others. This tendency is especially destructive when it exists, not at an individual level, but at a societal level.

Take, for example, Islam: No matter where one looks around the world, once Islam is in charge, the economy collapses, violence increases, freedom disappears, and women, Jews, Christians, gays, and other Islamically disfavored groups are attacked, enslaved, and destroyed. This is a society that is ripe for introspection but, because it’s predicated on narcissism, the only thing it can do when it confronts its disastrous existence is . . . blame the Jews.

***

We’ve already talked here about the fact that those environmentally friendly wind farms puree birds, while the solar farms barbecue them. That’s not why I’m linking to this PowerLine article. I’m linking because I love the title: MICROWAVES OF THE DESERT; CUISINARTS OF THE SKY.

***

Cliven Bundy, a private citizen, makes an inarticulate, but arguably valid point that American blacks are as enslaved by the Democrat party now as they were in the antebellum South. The media mangles his argument, and destroys him as a “racist,” making toxic his entirely valid argument that past due monies owed to the government do not justify the Bureau of Land Management showing up at his farm with full military force, slaughtering his cattle, destroying his water lines, and aiming snipers at his home.  Think about it.  If Bundy were an IRS employee (lots of back taxes there), he would have gotten a bonus, and if he were Al Sharpton (even more back taxes), he’d be palling around with Obama and Holder.

No matter the government’s “right” to the land (which is separate from the justice of its claiming that right), Bundy stands for the increased tyranny of the federal government, one that sees it viewing itself as master, not servant.  Indeed, one can argue that, although the government is acting according to the laws it’s made, its laws and procedures have become so fundamentally flawed that, per the Declaration of Independence, our government has invalidated itself:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

But I digress. I actually just wanted to talk about Bundy now being toxic, thereby invalidating ideas unrelated to the subject matter that made him toxic.  It’s different if you’re on the Left.

If you’re on the Left, no matter what you do outside of politics, you’re never toxic. Take Paula Poundstone, for example, a convicted child molester. That fact isn’t preventing the Marin Jewish Community Center from opening its arms to her. I don’t know whether Poundstone has reformed or repented, something that makes a difference to me, because I’m a big believer in both. I just know that, if Poundstone was a conservative, not a Progressive, she’d never be forgiven for her sins, and would be persona non grata in perpetuity, as to all matters.

***

And finally, maybe we are at last seeing small cracks in the damned dam that is political correctness:

Same old, same old, which I enliven with predictions for the next twelve months *UPDATED*

bored-baby

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.

Charles Murray taught me libertarianism in a hurry

One of my favorite songs when I was young was Betty Hutton’s Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry.  Because of the way my mind plays with words, the song always pops into my head whenever I think of Charles Murray, the deservedly famous libertarian thinker and writer.  The rhyming names are, of course, a facile connection between the man and the song.  The deeper, more meaningful connection is that Murray’s 1994 book, Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, was one of the pivotal books that hastened my transition from knee-jerk liberal to thinking conservative.

Bell Curve was so relentlessly logical it dealt a death-blow to the cognitive dissonance that is a necessity for a moral, rational Jew who lives in the real world, but who continues to vote the Democrat ticket. I read the book in 1995 and became hungry for more and more books that inevitably destroyed my Jewish, San Francisco, UC Berkeley, PBS, New Yorker, New York Times world view. (Some of those books were Keith Richburg’s Out Of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa; Charles Sykes’ Profscam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education; and, believe it or not, Arthur Schlesinger’s The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society, in which an old Leftist mourned multiculturalism without realizing that he ushered it in America’s front door.)  It took until 9/11 before I was able to sever completely the cord between me and the Democrat party, but I never would have reached that state had it not been for The Bell Curve.

As always, there’s a point to one of my meandering introductions.  I was fortunate enough today attend a luncheon in San Francisco at which Mr. Murray spoke.  The theme of the speech was the same theme he sounded in his best-selling book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010:  namely, that 21st century America is experiencing a class divide the likes of which has never been seen before in this country.

We’ve all seen this divide in the responses to the previous and current occupants of the White House.  George W. Bush may have come from an old American family, and been educated at all the right (i.e., Ivy League schools), but he was considered a class traitor by the Leftist elite, who relentlessly mocked his speech (“new-cu-lar,” “misunderestimated,” etc.), and sought to portray him as an ill-educated yokel who squeaked into the Ivies because of family connections.  Meanwhile, Barack Obama, the stoner who drifted into the Ivies on a cloud of marijuana smoke and affirmative action, is held up to the world as the most intelligent president ever to occupy the White House (never mind his staggering ignorance about everything but Leftist cant), in large part because he plays the class game so adroitly.

I certainly saw the class divide in my own world when a liberal family member was horrified to learn that I admired Sarah Palin — a gal who didn’t go to the Ivies, who believes in God, and who shoots moose.  He didn’t even bother to challenge me on political substance.  He simply said, “She’s not one of us.”  We stared at each other over a giant chasm of value differences.  To me, she’s “one of us,” because she believes in American exceptionalism, distrusts big government, supports the Constitution, recognized the inevitable loss of freedom that comes with socialized medicine, supports Israel, supports the troops, etc.  While this relative disagrees with Palin on every one of those issues, her real crime was being a yokel.  If he was the bumper-sticker type, he’d have had one that said “We don’t vote for yokels.”

The point Murray made in his speech is that the Bush/Obama or Obama/Palin divides are more than just political.  He began with something simple:  marriage.  Upper middle class white people marry — 84% of them today, as opposed to 94% of them when I was born.  Lower class people have abandoned marriage — 84% of them were married when I was born; only 48% of them are married now.  The problem isn’t just an economic one, although the economic effects of single-motherhood are so catastrophic that even the New York Times has had to acknowledge it.  Two-parent families are the glue that holds a community together.

As Murray said, single dads don’t coach Little League and single moms don’t go to PTA meetings.  In Marin County, Tiburon and Ross moms bring their formidable energy and skills to scarily efficient and excessive PTAs and school plays, while in San Rafael and Marin City (Marin’s genuinely poor communities), those same Tiburon and Ross moms, as charity work, try to do the same in communities that have virtually no parental participation.

It’s not just that the rich are richer and the poor are poorer (although that too is a problem, because it means the middle is vanishing).  It’s that the rich and the poor live entirely separate lives.  Back in 1960, even in affluent neighborhoods, neighborhoods were more blended than they are today.  Incidentally, much as I hate to give any praise to my former law-prof and current-Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren, she diagnosed this problem almost a decade ago.  In The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke, she pointed out that the upper middle class drive for public schools that offer the same quality as prep schools drove up housing prices in certain areas, making it impossible for middle and working class families even to remain within the school district’s boundaries.  While Warren had the smarts to divine the problem, she’s so ideologically blinkered that she thinks government control and intervention is the solution.

Murray describes a lost American world in which the upper classes and upper middle classes sought to blend in, not to stand out.  They bought Buicks, not Cadillacs, because it was déclassé to flaunt ones wealth.  Nowadays, with stratospheric incomes propelled by information technology, you’re failing the new upper class if you don’t have the $100,000 Tesla.

Our children grow up untouched, not just by poverty, but by a connection to the blue-collar working class.  Many of the children in Marin have never met a parent who makes his living using his body (unless he’s a chichi personal trainer) as opposed to his brain.  I certainly know that’s the case for my little community.  I like to describe my delightful neighborhood as one populated by old people with young children.  This used to be a nice suburban working class neighborhood, with stay-at-home moms and blue collar or low-level white collar (i.e., teachers and clerks) dads.  Now it’s an expensive, upper class neighborhood where every adult has at least one degree, where all the fathers are professionals, and where the mothers were professionals before their income level gave them the luxury of staying home to raise their children.  All of us worked like the dickens in our 20s and 30s so that we could afford these homes in this top-flight school district for our late-in-life kids.

Popular culture has also divided.  As  I like to tell my kids, back in the 1940s, everybody listened to Bing Crosby and Benny Goodman, and in the 1950s, everybody watched I Love Lucy.  Now, our popular culture is divided up by 500 cable channels, God-alone-knows-how-many pop music charts, and movies targeted to micro-stratum demographics.  Murray saw this as a class issue, and I agree.  He pointed out that the audience before him watches Mad MenDownton Abbey, and Breaking Bad, while that other class is watching shows we don’t even know exist.  (Although I do know about Duck Dynasty and one day, if I can drag myself to the TV, a box I usually avoid, I  might watch it.)

I’m very aware of the pop culture chasm, of course, because I have kids.  My blogging means that I know everything my kids know, which is very fortunate.  I’m usually a step ahead of them, and can deconstruct Miley Cyrus or “I kissed a girl and I like it.”  They wouldn’t listen to me if I just concluded that it’s “nasty” or “inappropriate.”  They do listen to me because I can describe the behavior in detail and, in the same detail, explain why it’s destructive.  Most parents, of course, don’t have the freedom to be as informed as I am, and the children pay the price.  They grow up in a pop culture world where it’s not just that “anything goes,” it’s that anything that is base, demeaning, and immoral is elevated and emulated.

I do believe, though, that children are beginning to see through the noise of a sleazy, degrading pop culture, and they’re recognizing that, no matter how much they’re forced to read a second-rate, civil-rights-era play such as Raisin in the Sun, that they’re being lied to.  Whatever pathologies may be plaguing today’s black community, they understand that systemic institutional racism is no longer an issue., especially when there’s a black man in the White House.

In other words, the fact that the Left controls the discourse in the media and the schools, so that children get a monolithic Leftist world view, also means that the cognitive dissonance grows and grows.  In this way, we’ve become like the Soviet Union, where people became cynical as they looked at housing shortages and hunger while the government trumpeted the stunning success of whatever iteration of Stalin’s Five Year Plan happened to be in vogue that year.  Our children too are struggling with cognitive dissonance.  It’s a slow process, as I know personally, but a real one.

All in all, it was a very good lunch.  The meal was delicious (perfectly prepared chicken, wild mushrooms, and fruit tart), and the intellectual food was just as good.  If you live in the Bay Area, I strongly suggest that you get on the Pacific Research Institute (“PRI”) mailing list.  The speakers that PRI brings to San Francisco are always worth hearing.

An Elizabeth Warren presidential candidacy

Elizabeth Warren quotation

The two top names currently being bandied about for the Democrat presidential slate in 2016 are Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren.  Democrats are saying that Hillary is “inevitable.”  I recall them saying the same thing in 2008, and that was before she had the Benghazi albatross hanging about her neck.  My suspicion is that, just as happened in 2008, were she to run, the media would roll out the red carpet for her, and she’d soil it within a few months.

No matter what Hillary does, she cannot get past the fact that, at some visceral, lizard-brain level, people who are not true believers neither like nor trust her.  And I do mean visceral.  We here are informed about what a squirrelly person she is, both personally and politically, whether one looks at Benghazi, lesbianism, political and economic ties to antisemitic Arab leagues, or whatever else.  Most Americans neither know nor care.  They just don’t like her.

And what about Elizabeth Warren?  Well, Americans neither know nor will they care that Warren’s Senatorial race proved that she’s a liar.  As Democrat politicians get caught in increasingly egregious lies, it’s rather ironic that people care less, not more.  “That’s just what politicians do,” they say, when what they really should be saying is “That’s what Democrat politicians do, so why the Hell are we voting for them?”

I’m embarrassed to admit this about the American people, but I suspect even Obama’s manifest, gross, far-reaching lies about Obamacare will eventually get nothing more than shrugs from Americans.  Those who are ideologically blind will even add “The Republicans made him do it.”  So Warren’s lies won’t get her.

I suspect that what will destroy Warren in the end is the same thing that wiped out Hillary:  she’s not likable.  Exactly like Hillary, Warren is angry, smug, and condescending.  Obama is too, but he was clever enough to hide that on the campaign trail.  Hillary couldn’t and Warren can’t.

My own outdated experience with having Warren as a law professor some decades ago is that she’s also a terribly bad communicator.  Like Obama, she does fine with the prepared speech, but she’s incoherent when she’s off the cuff.  And unlike Obama, she’s not black nor does she have a photogenic smile nor “ripped abs” to help her out.  Ask her the right question, meaning an important question for which she doesn’t have a pre-packaged answer, and all you’ll get is a boatload of angry BS.

William Jacobson, of Legal Insurrection, thinks as I do about Warren, and therefore devoutly hopes that she runs, because he’s assuming that she will collapse before a Republican candidate.  I’d like to agree with him, but I fear greatly that Republicans will, as always, destroy themselves.  With our luck, rather than having Ted Cruz, or Bill Lee, Alan West, or even Chris Christie (whom I’ve come to dislike but whose still more conservative than not) on the ballot, Republican primaries are going to result in our having John McCain on the ballot.  Indeed, with Open Primaries now in major states such as California, the best tactic the Democrats could use would be to put John McCain or Lindsay Graham or some other self-hating “conservative” on the ballot against Warren or whomever else the Democrats run with.

Yet another ferocious attack from the Wall Street Journal against President Obama

Yesterday I directed your attention to one of the angriest editorial opinions I’ve ever seen in the normally temperate Wall Street Journal.  What I missed was that Daniel Henninger, who’s also a normally temperate writer, also leveled a huge mortar round of ugly facts against our President:

We should admit the obvious: Barack Obama is the most anti-political president the United States has had in the post-war era. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter (even), Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush. All practiced politics inside the tensions between Congress and the presidency that were designed into the system by the Founding Fathers. Not Barack Obama. He told us he was different. He is.

Mr. Obama doesn’t do Washington’s politics. Disappointed acolytes say it is because he is “passive.” That underestimates him. For Mr. Obama, the affairs of state are wholly a function of whatever is inside his mind.

Some things remain in his mind, like the economic benefits of public infrastructure spending, which appeared one more time in Monday’s post-Navy Yard speech on the lessons of the financial crisis and Congress’s obligations to agree with him. Some things enter his mind and then depart, like red lines in the Syrian sand.

From where he sits, it is the job of the political world outside to adjust and conform to the course of the president’s mental orbit. Those who won’t adjust are dealt with by the president himself. They are attacked publicly until they are too weak politically to oppose what is on his mind.

This is the unique Obama M.O. For historians of the Obama presidency, this September has been a case study in the 44th president’s modus operandi.

Please read the whole thing here.

As with climate change, I feel vindicated — but a fat lot of good vindication does me.  The damage is already done whether to our economy or our national security.

Voters duped by a Leftist media first gave us two years of unbridled Progressive politics, then at least four years of divided politics (2010-2014, or maybe 2016), and another three plus years of Barack Hussein Obama.  Eight years is a long time within which destructive forces can do their dirty work.  The turnaround won’t be instant and won’t even be eight years.  If conservative principles do take hold again, it may take decades to undo the damage.  And given the current infighting amongst those who call themselves Republicans, it looks as if the somewhat more conservative party in America is once again setting up its circular firing squad.

Sometimes I think that the only thing that will save the Right in 2016 is the fact that Democrats are also going to have a presidential primary.  No matter how the actual election goes, I’ve got the popcorn and chocolate ice cream ready for the delightful spectacle of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren, three of the worst liars in politics today, squaring off against each other.

Elizabeth Warren continues to be inarticulate and mentally muddled

Elizabeth Warren

From the first day Sen. Elizabeth Warren showed up on the national political scene, I’ve reminisced about what a dreadful teacher she was.  In post after post, I’ve noted that, while she was very nice (she is a nice lady in a one-on-one), she was totally incoherent as a teacher.  She never could seem to finish a thought before bouncing on to the next, apparently random, thought that popped up in her brain.  Sometimes she didn’t even bother finishing sentences.

She hasn’t gotten any better with time:

New senator Elizabeth Warren was asked by a Boston reporter the other day, “when you mention ‘middle class,’ what numbers are we talking about, in terms of income level?” The next Senate supposed financial-industry wonk first asserted, “It’s not a numbers issue. I know you’d expect a very wonky answer for me, you know, about the percentiles.”

[snip]

The reporter then pointed out to Warren that, when it comes to bills like the legislation surrounding the fiscal cliff, defining the middle class does indeed involve numbers — how, exactly, did the president just supposedly shield middle-class Americans from tax increases if it is not possible to say, on the basis of income levels or percentiles, whom that group includes?

Warren then goes off on a completely unrelated tangent, saying, “When we strengthen education, when we make it possible for kids to go to college, then we strengthen America’s middle class, and that doesn’t need a dollar figure.” This is a problematic statement: If we offer more subsidies to all Americans of any income level who’d like to attend college, and to the colleges themselves (as Warren would surely like, rather than means-testing college loans and savings programs or spending less on university compensation), then that is actually unlikely to “strengthen America’s middle class” — the benefits will accrue mostly to the upper-income Americans who already win most of the slots to America’s pricey private universities and flagship state schools, and to the upper-middle-class Americans who staff them, ossifying, not eroding, America’s inequality.

Pure Warren:  superficial, muddled, obfuscatory, and tangential.  That she’s considered a shining star in the Democrat firmament is scary and depressing.

The cult of personality trumped ordinary considerations

I do believe that vote fraud had an effect on this election, although I don’t know if it was big enough in swing states to change the outcome.  Abe Greenwald’s theory makes a lot more sense when it comes to explaining how conservatives could have so completely misread the election outcome:

Barack Obama ushered in America’s first large-scale experiment in personality-cult politics. The experiment continues apace. Obama got reelected because he enjoys a degree of personal popularity disconnected from his record. No modern president has ever been returned to office with employment figures and right-track-wrong-track numbers as poor as those Obama has achieved.

Obama couldn’t run on his record, which proved to be no problem—Americans didn’t vote on his record. According to exit polls, 77 percent of voters said the economy is bad and only 25 percent said they’re better off than they were four years ago. But since six in ten voters claimed the economy as their number one issue, it’s clear this election wasn’t about issues at all.

The president’s reelection is not evidence of a new liberal America, but rather of the illogical and confused experience that is infatuation. For multiple reasons, Americans continue to have a crush on Barack Obama even after his universally panned first term. No longer quite head over heels, they’re at the “I know he’s no good for me, but I can change him” phase. Whatever this means, it surely doesn’t suggest conservatives would be wise to move closer to policies that aren’t even popular among Obama supporters.

(Read more here.)

What we saw on election day was the continuing power of the old media.  Indeed, it is flush with power.  This year, the old media abandoned any pretense of objectivity and still shaped an election.  That’s quite something.  For decades, the old media hid its partisanship, believing that doing so was the only way to sway the American people.  This year, it learned that it could be hyper-partisan because it is still the gatekeeper.

We in the blogosphere were deluding ourselves about our reach and ability to change the dialog.  By ignoring some stories (Benghazi, for example, or the scope of Sandy’s disaster) and by hyping other story’s (Romney’s offshore accounts or dog driving), it kept Obama in office despite the fact that he has failed to fulfill every promise he made and left the country in a perilous state.

I know that the economic numbers were creeping up ever so slightly before the election (improved stock market, slightly improved job numbers), but those would have been irrelevant if the press had been hostile to Obama.  This was indeed a “cult of personality” election, as I see regularly on my Facebook page.

There certainly were issues that excited Democrat voters — the elite voted on social issues grounds (lady parts and gay marriage being the things they trumpet most triumphantly) and the 47% vote to keep their government benefits — but those issues were of paramount importance to them because the media colluded with the Obama administration to hide from the public the scope of the coming economic disaster.  Had the American people better understood the economy, the elite might have decided that lady parts and gay marriage could wait a while, and the 47% might have realized that no government money means no government benefits.

Here’s the good news, though:  Next election, the media doesn’t have Obama to elevate any more.  We won’t have Romney, who is a a truly nice man, but whom the media demonized to the proportions of Sarah Palin, who is a truly nice woman.  The press will still demonize the Republican candidate, but I’m not certain they’ll have anyone to anoint as the second coming.  Neither Hillary nor Elizabeth Warren lend themselves to a personality cult.  This hagiography worked once with Obama.  I doubt it will work twice with someone else.  The American population might be in a “fool me twice, shame on you” frame of mind.

Or, of course, Obama could bring in a new Golden Age in the next four years, in which case all of us will have to retire our animus and rejigger our political views.  Currently, I’m not holding my breath on that one.

Monday morning quick links

I spent a very family-centric weekend, which inhibited both weekend blogging and weekend information gathering.  So today, I’m playing catch-up.  Nevertheless, I do have a few interesting things to highlight.

Dennis Prager is one of my favorite political commentators.  His approach to morality and politics can be summed up in one sentence that he frequently uses:  “I prefer clarity to agreement.”  So often, as Prager demonstrates on his show, and as I find in my own life, if one brings clarity to a subject, people find themselves agreeing — and what they agree with are traditional moral principles and a constitutional world view.  That is, if you force people to look beyond what Jonah Goldberg calls “the tyranny of cliches,” you find that they’re still capable, not only of independent thought, but intelligent thought too.

Dennis now produces a video series that he makes available at Prager University.  He’s invited people who have something worth saying, and who can say it clearly, to expound upon basic factual or moral principles.  The latest video has Adam Carolla talking about “luck.”  It’s a great video since it distinguishes random chance (a coin in a slot machine) from hard work.  The “lucky bastard” who lives in a huge home in a rich neighborhood, might have won it in the lottery, but he is much more likely to have created his own luck by studying hard, working hard, taking risks, etc.  This is the kind of thing you should show your kids when they whine to you “but that’s not fair.”  Here, see for yourself:

Here are a few more interesting things I’ve found today:

At PJ Media, David Swindle shows that in this election, unlike the 2008 election, no voters can pretend that they don’t have at least a suspicion that Obama is a corrupt man who is advancing a political agenda antithetical to America’s traditional trajectory.

Also at PJ Media, David Steinberg calls out those Leftist Jews who cannot forgive the Germans for the 1972 Munich Olympics, but happily turn a blind eye to the Obama administration’s Benghazi fiasco.

And also at PJ Media (which had a spectacular run of good posts in the last 24 hours), Victor Davis Hanson examines Obama’s political fantasies (and it’s not just “hope and change”).

My own Watcher’s Council has a forum about clipping the wings of the teacher’s unions.  I didn’t participate in this one (see my excuse about the family-centric weekend), but I wish I had, because then I could boast about having my ideas appearing amongst the thoughtful, intelligent, and practical ideas my fellow Council members advance.

Legal Insurrection has a pretty viral post about the fact that Elizabeth Warren had a continuously operating law practice in Massachusetts for nigh on a decade, although she isn’t licensed to practice law in that state.  The only way Warren can douse this fire is to prove absolutely that she only practiced in federal courts (including the United States Supreme Court).  I’ll be interested to see how this one plays out.

Consider this an open thread, and please add anything you’ve found today that’s interesting.

 

 

Re that Veep spot on the Democrat ticket — I have a guess about the dark horse replacement

I’m with American Crossroads, which believes that Joe Biden is just what the Democrat ticket needs:

Gravitas! (Giggle, giggle.)

I’m suspect, though, that the Democrats themselves are becoming disenchanted with Good Old Joe. Apparently they cast around for the Hillary alternative, only to get a resounding “No!” from a woman who neither wanted to be on a winning nor a losing Democrat ticket, because she thought both would be bad for her career.  You can always trust the Clintons to keep their eyes on the main chance.

So who’s next?  I’m voting for a “Draft Elizabeth Warren” movement.

Think about it for a moment:  while the Republican party has more young guns than it can count, who does the Democrat party have?  Jesse Jackson, Jr.?  No.  Poor guy has a bipolar disorder.  I wish him well, but no one wishes him on the ticket.  Rahm Emanuel?  Nope.  You don’t go from Chief of Staff, to Mayor of a corrupt, crime-ridden city, to second on the presidential ticket.  Raddled old Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi?  Big NO there. Debbie What’s-her-name Schlemeil?  I think Baghdad Debbie has had her dishonest day.

Anyone?  Anyone?

I didn’t think so.

The only “young” gun they’ve got is Elizabeth Warren.  She’s struggling to stay above water in Massachusetts, but Democrats might see her as someone who can revive the base if she’s on the presidential ticket.  After all, when it comes to “You didn’t build that,” she and Obama are two minds with but a single thought.  Better an exciting candidate on the presidential ticket than a struggling candidate for a senate seat that’s already filled by a fairly popular, attractive RINO.

My best guess today is that, in a week or so, poor old Joe is going to get very sick and need to retire abruptly.  And stalwart Progressive Elizabeth Warren will valiantly step up to fill Joe’s shoes.

What do you think?

Chris Matthews interviews Elizabeth Warren — good for a laugh

Chris Matthews managed to do an entire interview of Elizabeth Warren without once mentioning the scandals now dogging her.  Instead, he offers, “as a journalist,” to help her.  See the video and read more about Matthews’ water-carrying at American Power.

I’ll add only that, while liberals like to sneer that “military intelligence” is an oxymoron (and I’ve heard similar sneering from some military types who were confounded when the battlefield intelligence they received was wrong), that oxymoron is a piker compared to “journalistic ethics” in the age of Obama.