When Facebook friends go too far: “Denouncing” the Koch brothers

Koch-brothersSome of my “real-me” Facebook friends aren’t really friends at all. They’re people who were friends at specific stages in my life, but I haven’t seen them in years and I stick with them on Facebook only out of curiosity. The curiosity factor arises because I view people’s lives like story books — if they were once important to me, I like to see how their personal narrative is progressing. I like to hear about their marriages, and their children, and their parents, etc.

Mostly, I vicariously celebrate their life milestones.  Sometimes, though, I learn things about them that dismay me. That was the case when a person who was a good friend of mine long ago, but whom I haven’t seen in almost twenty years, boasted on Facebook that he had signed a despicable Moveon.org petition “denouncing” the Koch brothers:

We, citizens of the United States, denounce you, Charles and David Koch, for using your vast wealth — more than the combined wealth of the bottom 40 percent of Americans — to corrupt our democracy. You are thereby undermining the most precious gift we possess, our democratic system of government. You deserve to be shamed and condemned by all Americans.

PETITION BACKGROUND We do not denounce the Koch brother’s because their wealth of more than $50 billion exceeds the combined wealth of the bottom 40 percent of all the citizens of the United States, or because they run and own one of the largest petrochemical businesses in the world, or because of their right-wing views. If Americans obey the law and play by the rules, they’re entitled to their wealth and to their opinions. But the Koch brothers are using their vast wealth to alter those laws and rules to their advantage. They’ve established a political front group, Americans for Prosperity, and are building their own permanent political machine, including hundreds of full-time staff in at least 32 states. They are pouring money into federal and state races. The Koch brothers are thereby using their vast wealth to undermine and corrupt our democracy — a shameful betrayal of our nation for which they deserve to be widely denounced.

So far, over 23,000 people have signed a document that could easily have come from the revolutionaries in China during Mao’s deadly Cultural Revolution (Nien Cheng’s Life and Death in Shanghai vividly illustrates that terrible time); or from the Kremlin during the height of Soviet Kangaroo trials; or from East Germany’s Stasi state (see, e.g, the harrowing film “The Lives of Others“); or from Cambodia when the killing fields ran red with blood; or from Maduro’s Venezuela; or from any other totalitarian political organization that maintains power by targeting and denouncing individual citizens so as to sow fear in and gain control over the general population.

Usually, I look at the idiocies emanating from Facebook friends and ignore the stuff.  After all, if you were born in, raised in, and currently live in America’s bluest regions, you can assume that most of the people you meet will parrot the Democrat party line.  For the reasons I stated above, however, the MoveOn petition transcends idiocy and heads straight for evil.  I therefore left a comment asking my friend a few questions:

Why isn’t MoveOn.org condemning the 58 people and organizations who are ahead of the Koch brothers when it comes to being political big spenders (the biggest of whom, I noted, donate to Democrat causes)?

How is this attack different from the Two-Minutes of Hate directed at Emmanuel Goldstein in Orwell’s 1984?  

Does my friend think it’s okay for Sen. Harry Reid, one of the most powerful people in America to use his taxpayer-funded bully pulpit to launch daily attacks against private citizens?

What does my friend think distinguishes what he, Harry Reid, and MoveOn.org are doing from the tactics that the blacklisters used in the 1950s — a tactic that Democrats routinely describe as one of the greatest evils in American history, following closely behind slavery and the way we treated Native Americans?

I expected my friend and his friends to fire back immediately with defenses detailing how dreadful the Koch brothers are and how they deserve to be “denounced.”  Interestingly, so far the only sound I’ve heard is *crickets*.

Victor Davis Hanson sums up the Democrat ethos in 3 paragraphs

If you’re looking for a unifying principle of everything, at least everything Democrat, Victor Davis Hanson has it:

What is the common denominator of the Obama administration’s serial scandals — the Justice Department’s spying on AP, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the NSA surveillance, the lies about Benghazi and the ACA — and much of the White House damage-control rhetoric? In a word: the advancement of postmodern notions of justice at the expense of traditional truth.

By the 1980s, in law schools, university social-science departments, and the humanities in general, the old relativist idea of Plato’s noble lies was given a new French facelift. Traditional morality and ethics were dismissed as arbitrary constructs, predicated on privileged notions of race, class, and gender. The new moral architecture did not rely on archaic abidance by the niceties of “truth,” which simply reinforced traditional oppressive hierarchies.

Instead, social justice by definition transcended the sham of traditional ideas of truth and falsity. The true became the advocacy of fairness, while the real lie was the reactionary adherence to a set of oppressive norms. All this was faculty-lounge fluff, but soon it filtered out into the larger culture.

Read the rest here.

In other words, everything Jonah Goldberg said in Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change was true.

Managing businesses (badly): This is precisely what government — Big Government — does

My mother, who gets a lot of her news from the MSM, is nevertheless slowly becoming aware of the Solyndra scandal — not just the fact that a big solar panel company went bankrupt, but that it went bankrupt at great cost to her, because the Obama administration had bet the farm (or should I say, the taxpayer’s farm) on Solyndra.  “That’s not what government is supposed to do,” she said.

Au contraire, Mama,” I replied.  “This is precisely what Obama-style Leftist government is supposed to do.”

I went further than that.  The Obama approach to business is precisely like the Nazi approach to business.  And before anyone gets all hot and sweaty here, and despite Obama’s disgraceful attitude to Israel, I am not likening Obama to Hitler or trying to say that the Progressives are Nazis.  I am making, instead, a very specific point about American-style socialism, which is very different from Soviet, or North Korean, or Cuban style socialism.

When people think of socialism, they think in terms of government doing away with private industry entirely in favor of total nationalization.  That’s why, when you remind people that the fascists were socialists (i.e., Leftists), they’ll always deny it.  “That can’t be true.  Hitler didn’t take over private business.”

While it’s true that Hitler left ostensible corporate ownership in private hands, the practical reality was that the Nazis made the big decisions.  Baron von This and That and Herr So and So got to call the corporation their own, and got all the glamor that went with being rich industrialists, but the practical reality was that they looked to the Reichstag for direction and, because the Nazi Party conferred significant economic benefits on them, they supported it in word and deed.  One could say that German businesses, although nominally private, were in fact subsidiaries of the Nazi government.

That fascist approach, which sees businesses retain their status as “private,” even while being completely answerable to the government, is the Obama model.  He doesn’t want to nationalize companies, he just wants to direct them.  American businesses, in his mind, should be subsidiaries of the Obama White House.  That’s why Obama happily took over GM, and that’s why he and his Chicago cronies saw no problem with using taxpayer money to prop up an already failing solar company.

This same attitude permeates ObamaCare.  We conservatives sometimes forget that the hardcore Left hates the individual mandate as much as we on the conservative side do.  We hate it because it decreases individual freedom.  The Left hates it because the insurance companies will continue to thrive and, indeed, can profit mightily.  The Left cannot understand how their man in the White House could betray them that way.  They forget that Obama, although a socialist, is not a Communist.  He is an economic fascist, and merely wants to manage American business, which will keep a steady stream of money flowing from those same businesses right back to him.

In theory, it’s a lovely solution for both the government and the businesses.  In practice, as Solyndra shows, Obama is a disastrously bad business manager.  It’s also worth remembering, as the Germans learned to their great cost, that while power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.  It’s one thing for business to have a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” relationship with government.  That’s the nature of power.  It’s another thing entirely when a government simply co-opts a nation’s business.

The Wall Street Journal’s sober assessment of the fascist (yes, I mean it) EPA ruling

I can’t do better than to quote from the Wall Street Journal on the EPA ruling, which constitutes nothing more than an undemocratic takeover of all business activity and most government activity in this country:

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said yesterday that her ruling that greenhouses gases are dangerous pollutants would “cement 2009’s place in history” as the moment when the U.S. began “seizing the opportunity of clean-energy reform.” She’s right that this is an historic decision, though not to her or the White House’s credit, and “seizing” is the right term. President Obama isn’t about to let a trifle like democratic consent impede his climate agenda.

With cap and trade blown apart in the Senate, the White House has chosen to impose taxes and regulation across the entire economy under clean-air laws that were written decades ago and were never meant to apply to carbon. With this doomsday machine activated, Mr. Obama hopes to accomplish what persuasion and debate among his own party manifestly cannot.

This reckless “endangerment finding” is a political ultimatum: The many Democrats wary of levelling huge new costs on their constituents must surrender, or else the EPA’s carbon police will inflict even worse consequences.

[snip]

For now, this decision moves into the courts, and years if not decades of litigation. Yet the decision really is historic: The White House has opened a Pandora’s box that will be difficult to close, that is breathtakingly undemocratic, and that the country, if not liberal politicians, will come to regret.

Liberals and food

My liberal husband still hasn’t forgiven me for pointing out that the MSM deleted from it’s coverage Obama’s request for poupon at a burger joint, nor can he understand why I (and other conservatives) find the request both telling and amusing.  These things matter very deeply to the liberals.

Tom Elia points out that, just today, Maureen Dowd was all atwitter about the Obamas’ eating habits.  My response to Tom was that, with regard to the food thing, if you’ve read Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change, you’ll remember that fascists are obsessed with diets as a means of creating the perfect citizen for the perfect state.  His major example, of course, is the Nazis, with Hitler at the top of the food-control chain.  I am not saying Obama is a Nazi, but there’s no doubt that extreme liberalism feels a strong need to control people’s eating habits.

Fascism/corporatism/Obamism

In an interview timed to coincide with his book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, having come out in paperback, Jonah Goldberg makes this very interesting point about modern fascism and Obama’s world view:

You know, when I first started pondering the book, I thought it might be all about economics. About ten years ago I went on a junket to Switzerland and attended a talk with the CEO of Nestlé. Listening to him, it became very clear to me that he had little to no interest in free markets or capitalism properly understood. He saw his corporation as a “partner” with governments, NGOs, the U.N., and other massive multinationals. The profit motive was good for efficiency and rewarding talent, but beyond that, he wanted order and predictability and as much planning as he could get. I think that mindset informs the entire class of transnational progressives, the shock troops of what H. G. Wells hoped would lead to his liberal-fascist “world brain.”

If you look at how most liberals think about economics, they want big corporations and big government working in tandem with labor, universities (think industrial policy), and progressive organizations to come up with “inclusive” policies set at the national or international level. That’s not necessarily socialism — it’s corporatism. When you listen to how Obama is making economic policy with “everyone at the table,” he’s describing corporatism, the economic philosophy of fascism. Government is the senior partner, but all of the other institutions are on board — so long as they agree with the government’s agenda. The people left out of this coordinated effort — the Nazis called it the Gleichschaltung — are the small businessmen, the entrepreneurs, the ideological, social, or economic mavericks who don’t want to play along. When you listen to Obama demonize Chrysler’s bondholders simply because they want their contracts enforced and the rule of law sustained, you get a sense of what I’m talking about.

I don’t think Obama wants a brutal tyranny any more than Hillary Clinton does (which is to say I don’t think he wants anything of the sort). But I do think they honestly believe that progress is best served if everyone falls in line with a national agenda, a unifying purpose, a “village” mentality expanded to include all of society. That sentiment drips from almost every liberal exhortation about everything from global warming to national service. But to point it out earns you the label of crank. As I said a minute ago about that “We’re All Fascists Now” chapter, I think people fail to understand that tyrannies — including soft, Huxleyan tyrannies — aren’t born from criminal conspiracies by evil men; they’re born by progressive groupthink. I have an abiding faith in the liberty-loving nature of the American people. But I think we are laying down the foundation for a challenge to that nature the likes of which we haven’t seen since Wilson was in office.

The prescient Huey Long

I found this in a book of anecdotes written in 1944:

Somebody once asked the late Huey Long if he thought we would ever have fascism in the United States.  “Sure we will,” predicted Long, “only we’ll call it anti-fascism.”

And if that doesn’t make sense to you, hie yourself to the local bookstore or library and pick up a copy of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.