Tuesday morning round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesLast night we watched the most recent episode of John Oliver’s new HBO show, Last Week Tonight. I was interested in what Oliver’s take would be about the two top news events of the past week: Hamas’s terrorist action and Israel’s military response; and the refugee crisis on America’s own border.

Oliver, however, ignored both those stories, choosing instead to focus on “income inequality.” (Ashley Dobson fisks the segment nicely, exposing all of the factual and logical errors in his attack on American capitalism.)

The income equality stuff was the typical moronic shtick, which always sounds ridiculous coming out of the mouth of someone earning at least six figures a year. The absence of any discussion about the top stories was more interesting.

It occurred to me that Oliver could not comment on either story because he couldn’t risk saying what he and his audience really think: As far as they’re concerned, both Israel and America’s border should disappear. It’s one thing to speak these truths in a quiet room; it’s another thing entirely to put them on TV where others might be listening.

In this case, the “others listening” are the majority of Americans who support Israel and are horrified by the unfolding crisis on America’s southern border. It’s better to be thought a hardcore Leftist than to open your mouth and confirm it, right?

As for me, I’m not ignoring those stories. They are defining stories that will shape both the Middle East and America for some time to come. So, follow me into the wonderful world of actual news, rather than HBO’s fairy and unicorn land where a hard-Left, Cambridge-educated millionaire media star cries crocodile tears about “income inequality.”

By the by, the big issue shouldn’t be “income equality,” it should be “education inequality.” That’s not an issue that the DemProgs want to tackle, though, because it’s a direct result of the way in which America’s public schools have been turned into union fiefdoms. We can only hope that the California court ruling holding that tenure is unfair to students will weaken that stranglehold.

** 1 **

With all the dreadful headlines lately (border, Israel, ISIS, economy, etc.), I have to admit that the thing that strikes the most fear in my heart is the possibility that Elizabeth Warren could be a viable candidate for the White House and a possible winner thanks to her populist attacks on Wall Street. Unlike Obama who was a covert demagogue, she’s an overt demagogue and, for that reason, a very scary person. If she’s elected, it will speak to a profoundly damaging trend in American presidential politics.

** 2 **

Back in the dark, pre-gay rights era, Alfred Kinsey claimed that 10% of the American population was homosexual. Over the decades, many people challenged that number. After all, much of Kinsey’s research was done in prison populations and among gay prostitutes. More than that, many of Kinsey’s interviewers (including Kinsey himself) were gay or bisexual. To the extent they interviewed people in their own circles, this skewed the numbers. A recent poll, taken in a time of open homosexuality, probably offers a much more accurate number: less than three percent of Americans self-identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.  I leave you to your own conclusions about what that number means in the context of today’s hot societal issues.

** 3 **

It takes a surprisingly small vector to tilt a healthy population into being a plague-ridden population. There’s reason to believe that the dissemination throughout the US of infected children may be that vector. It takes true cognitive dissonance to ignore this reality (and to make that point, I’ll run yesterday’s poster again today):

Spreading infections 2

** 4 **

I noted already last week that the Left is accusing Christians of lacking compassion because they want to stop the flood of youthful refugees into America. Meanwhile, Glenn Beck has been oozing compassion for those refugees, which is why I’ve never liked him very much. It’s not the compassion that I dislike; it’s the ooze. He’s a smart man, but he’s ruled by his passions, not his brain. He is, in effect, the male Oprah. But back to the refugees.

I’ve long said that America’s pro-illegal immigrant cadre is inflicting cruel and profound damage on Latin America. As long as we provide a safety valve through our acceptance of illegal immigration, Latin America’s corrupt, inefficient governments and broken economic systems can thrive. They lose criminals, excess population, and non-producers (such as children), while gaining billions in American dollars their emigrants sent back home. What’s happening now on our southern border is this cruel system playing out on a massive scale.

Worse, at home, we’re losing the rule of law. The most compassionate system of all is one that’s free and based upon a reliable and just legislative and judicial system.  In that system, people don’t fear the past, can work in the present, and can plan for the future. The Obama-engineered refugee crisis is destroying that too.

And it will get worse, because there’s every indication that Obama intends to grant mass amnesty to the refugees. He won’t do this by waving the presidential wand and pronouncing “I hereby grant every illegal immigrant amnesty.” He will, instead, do it by refusing, once again, to enforce any of the nation’s existing immigration laws. Doing so will satisfy several important Obama constituents, even as it destroys the US.

One would think that Obama would care that, by doing so, he’s hurting one of his core constituencies:  Blacks.  Blacks are horrified by the influx of people who will compete with them for low wage jobs and welfare. Obama couldn’t care less, though. What blacks need to understand is that Obama is not really black. He’s red — a hardcore Marxist whose primary goal is the destruction of America, which long stood as the bastion of freedom against Marxism. Blacks were just one more in a long list of useful idiots.

Should Obama grant de facto amnesty by refusing to enforce the law, that will be a manifestly impeachable offense, of course.  Sadly, the majority of Americans still don’t want to impeach the first half-black president.

Senator Jeff Sessions is doing his best to rally Congress and Americans to this grossly unconstitutional act, but he’s not getting traction because the drive-by media supports Obama’s political goals.

** 5 **

You’ve already heard that Israel agreed to a ceasefire and Hamas refused. Yay!

That’s not a sarcastic “yay.” I’m thrilled, because that little Kabuki play allowed Israel to prove her good faith and Hamas to prove its bad faith. More than that, Israel is winning. She would be insane to engage once again in her usual practice of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by giving up the instant she makes headway against the genocidal Islamic terrorists gunning for her.

And why is Israel winning? Elliott Abrams notes that Iron Dome has heartened the Israelis, that Hamas is making no headway and that, aside from a rise in antisemitic attacks across the world, nobody of importance is rallying to Hamas’s side. Egypt hates Hamas, and the rest of the Arab world is too involved in its own immolation to care about one more branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

** 6 **

On the subject of Israel, please, please read Daniel Greenfield’s discussion about the nature of Israel’s (and the West’s) response to terrorism. She may finally have to abandon the appeasement approach she’s used for so long.

** 7 **

The Huffington Post (of all places!) has published a fantastic opinion piece destroying the notion that Israel and Hamas are morally equivalent.

** 8 **

Rob Miller provides a first person account of the anti-Israel rally in Los Angeles, which ended with a DHS officer firing a shot when pro-Palestinian protesters got violent (as they invariably do).

If I had my way, every Jew would be required by Jewish law to (a) own a gun, know how to operate it, and carry it on his or her person at all times; and (b) have basic knowledge of hand-to-hand combat techniques.

** 9 **

Americans used to view the government as their servant; now they cringe before it as their master. Nowhere is this more apparent, funnily enough, than in the realm of local government.

I say “funnily enough” because the news is full of stories about overreaching federal, not local, government.  In reality, though, the federal government doesn’t directly touch many people, while local government does. We here in Marin just had our own fight with a local government that wanted to add 900 apartment units along a two lane major artery between two highways. And anyone who has had to deal with a town inspector knows how those departments can abuse their power. Reagan knew how to deal with this problem.

** 10 **

Once upon a time, feminists opposed porn, arguing that it degraded women. Now, Planned Parenthood, an organization feminists adore because it provides abortion, also provides hardcore porn to teenagers — and the feminists don’t care because . . . abortions.

** 11 **

Ted Cruz has suggested impeaching Eric Holder. Holder’s most recent attack on free speech — having the DOJ investigate an anti-Obama Zombie parade float — makes it clear that Holder is a ripe target. If only Holder didn’t have that cafe au lait skin and his solid Marxist credentials, it would be a slam dunk.

** 12 **

Mr. Bookworm is cheap, a quality I admire because I’m cheap too. I was, and he is, a wage slave, which means our money will never grow exponentially. If we’re to have any savings in our old age, we actually have to save money to make that happen.

We still have a great lifestyle: a lovely home, electronics, vacations (Mr. Bookworm’s passion), reliable cars, etc. However, we shop sales, use coupons, and are careful to distinguish between things we want (which must be justified) and things we need (which must be bought as economically as possible).

One aspect of our cheapness is that we don’t waste gas or electricity. After all, the more you use, the more you pay. That’s why, when I met Mr. Bookworm long before anyone had thought of global warming, we conserved energy.

Nowadays, Mr. Bookworm insists that he conserves energy not to save money but because he’s “green.” He’s lying to himself. I know this because, whenever we go on vacation, when a hotel or cruise ship is paying for energy consumption, he’s incredibly profligate with natural resources, most notably when it comes to towels. He’s been know to go through 5-6 clean towels a day on vacation.

I’ve now learned that Mr. Bookworm is not alone in telling lies to himself about his energy consumption and green self-righteousness.

** 13 **

The Left loves to ridicule those on the right who, usually because of religious beliefs, have ideas that are outside of the mainstream. For example, they can’t get enough of the comedic wonders of the creationist theme park. Fine. It’s funny.

But part of the Left’s laughter, of course, is condescension. We would never be so stupid and irrational they reply.

To which Andrew Klavan says, “Really? You’d never be wacky, stupid, and irrational? Think again.” (Klavan doesn’t actually use those words, but it’s definitely the gist of this great post about Leftist lunacy.)

Monday morning round-up and Open Thread *UPDATED*

Victorian posy of pansiesSpring break is over and real life resumes. The kids weren’t thrilled to return to school, but I’m pretty pleased to have my life back on schedule. As you could probably tell from last week’s lethargic blogging, I don’t do well without some boundaries to my days. I’m off to exercise soon (Yay, me!), but first a few quick links:

One of my running themes since Obama started to run for President is that he lies, and lies, and lies some more. The rest of America is finally — finally! — figuring this out for itself.

***

I love Commentary Magazine, which helped me transition from Democrat to conservative. Nevertheless, I’ve been consistently dismayed by its East Coast, Ivy League, snotty attitude towards Sarah Palin. In that, it perfectly echoes the liberals who surround me who, when unable to challenge Palin’s accomplishments in 2008, especially when compared to Obama’s much lesser list of accomplishments in the same year, fell back on the line “She’s not one of us.” It’s painful to see that Obama’s failures (and he is “one of them”) still haven’t changed the classist mindset over at Commentary.

***

Political advertisers (i.e., heavily funded Leftist interest groups) own the content at Politico. And Soros’ own Media Matters out-and-out wrote content at CBS. The problem is that, while you and I care about this confluence between news that sold as “objective” and hard-line Leftist partisan organizations, ordinary people cannot be made to care. Instead of reacting with outrage and a desire for “clean” information, they continue to respond to dishonest emotional appeals from the Left.  No wonder John Fund can credibly suggest that Democrats will tell any lies, no matter how inflammatory and slanderous (and, therefore, destructive of the American political and social scene) in order to get out that vote.

***

I wrote about the outrage on the Left because the Koch brothers have the temerity to donate to libertarian political causes. How dare rich people buy political influence? Funnily enough (sarcasm), they’ve been completely silent about Tom Steyer’s massive payment for political influence. After my work-out, I think I’ll write up a petition, paralleling the MoveOn one, asking people to “denounce” Steyer.

***

Thomas Piketty, an economist, is the newest darling among the Leftist intelligentsia and faux intelligentsia (but I repeat myself), because he claims that capitalism is inherently unfair since it’s entirely predicated on income inequality. Clive Crook explains that even the meanest intelligence should see that Piketty’s conclusions don’t match his data. I’ll add something that Crook didn’t say and that I’m sure Piketty ignored: Capitalism is not a still photograph; it’s a moving picture. In any specific frame, there will be rich people and poor people who are separated by a wide gap. However, the dynamic of capitalism is that the poor in one still photo are not the same as the poor in the next.  Socialism, by contrast, is a still photograph: Except for the coddled nomenklatura, everyone else stays firmly mired at the bottom forever.

UPDATE: Of all sources, the New York Times backs up my statement that the problem with socialist economists is that they understand the economy in static, not dynamic terms:

It turns out that 12 percent of the population will find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution for at least one year. What’s more, 39 percent of Americans will spend a year in the top 5 percent of the income distribution, 56 percent will find themselves in the top 10 percent, and a whopping 73 percent will spend a year in the top 20 percent of the income distribution.

Yet while many Americans will experience some level of affluence during their lives, a much smaller percentage of them will do so for an extended period of time. Although 12 percent of the population will experience a year in which they find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution, a mere 0.6 percent will do so in 10 consecutive years.

It is clear that the image of a static 1 and 99 percent is largely incorrect. The majority of Americans will experience at least one year of affluence at some point during their working careers. (This is just as true at the bottom of the income distribution scale, where 54 percent of Americans will experience poverty or near poverty at least once between the ages of 25 and 60).

Hat tip: Tom Elia

***

Anthropogenic climate change is a con. Even if one assumes solely for the sake of argument that our carbon output exceeds the sun’s control over the earth’s atmosphere, science, history, and common sense all show that a minimal rise in CO2 levels provides more food and water around the world, not less.

Why Americans aren’t buying into Obama’s economic inequality shtick

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For Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela’s death came like manna from heaven.  After all, until Mandela’s passing sucked all the oxygen out of any other news stories, the headlines, even from Obama’s staunchest cheerleaders, were about Obamacare.  The cheerleaders printed stories bravely admitting that the exchange is still bedeviled with problems, but assuring Americans that it’s way much, super-de-dooper, extraordinarily, wonderfully better and will soon be functioning perfectly.  The naysayers not only pointed out flaws in the system, and told heartrending stories about on the people consigned to death because of those flaws, but also warned that the worst is yet to come.  Newspapers and TV news stories were no longer happy places for our president.

Before Mandela’s timely passing, Obama attempted to change the subject by pivoting, yet again, to “economic inequality.”  (Or as Ed Driscoll nicely said, “It’s Deja Pivot All Over Again.“)  Boiled down to its essence, this Progressive (read: communist) world view says that there are poor people in America and there are rich people in America, and that’s simply not fair.  All people should be poor!!  Okay, the Progressives don’t actually say that last sentence, but one only has to look at every communist experiment in the history of the world to know that this is the reality behind heavy-handed government “correction” of “economic inequality.”

The Occupy movement, which nobody remembers now, was supposed to be the protest to end all protests when it came to economic inequality.  Americans were expected to rise up against the evil one-percent.  Only that didn’t happen.  Too many Americans were unimpressed when they saw computer-toting Ivy League students making common cause with drug addicts, felons, rapists, all of them complaining that a tiny percentage of Americans are very, very rich.  This cavalier response worsened when Americans realized that the Progressive/Democrat party is rife with one-percenters (Obama, Kerry, the Clintons, Pelosi, Reid, etc.), and reached a peak of disgust when the Occupy camps become rat-ridden cesspools that cost cities tens of thousands of dollars to clean up.

While a certain percentage of Americans, when polled, will reliably say they hate that the rich are so rich while their incomes are stagnating (although too few realize that Obama’s statist economic policies cause this stagnation), the reality is that, to Progressives’ (and Obama’s) despair, Americans just can’t get all that worked up about “economic inequality.”  This reality lies in the fact that Americans know something Obama, Democrats, Progressives, and other Leftists refuse to recognize:  America does not have a roach motel economy and that’s despite the Left’s best efforts to turn it into one.

What’s a “roach motel economy,” you ask?  It’s one in which people are frozen in place, with minimal economic or social movement.  That is, they check into an economic stratum, but they don’t check out.  Or, as a spoiled prince says to Aladdin in the eponymous movie, “You are a worthless street rat. You were born a street rat, you’ll die a street rat, and only your fleas will mourn you!”

One doesn’t have to look to Disney to see what a roach motel economy looks like.  In all non-free market societies, whether we’re talking ancient Mesopotamia, medieval Europe, or Castro’s Cuba, it’s not just that, as the Bible says, “the poor you always have with you.”  What’s common to all these societies is that the same people are always poor.  Check into Mesopotamia, 16th century France, or Cuba, and you’ll see that if the father was poor, then his father was poor, and his father was poor . . . going back to time immemorial (or the Cuban revolution).  In each of these stagnant, stratified societies, there were always a few who managed to claw their way up the hierarchy, and another few who carelessly squandered their way down the hierarchy, but class and economic status were fixed.  Likewise, in communist countries, everybody’s poor together, world without end, amen.

Just like Black Flag’s famous “Roach Motel,” poor people check in, but they don’t check out, nor do their children or grandchildren.  Economic status (and class status) are fixed:

Leftist view of socio-economic mobility

Up until Obama and his cohorts came along, the American view was very different. Class was mostly determined by economic status, and economic status was open to anyone who had the discipline and wits (and sometimes the gambler’s instinct) to make it happen. As the wonderful Tenement Museum in New York shows through census studies, immigrants lived in poverty, their children became working class, and their grandchildren were middle class or beyond.  If you’re born into poverty in America, neither you nor your descendents are likely to become Bill Gates, but in a generation or so, unless you’ve become hooked on Welfare-crack, you’ll have left the slums behind.  In a free-market society, with maximum individual freedom, social and economic mobility are a reality:

The American reality of socio-economics

America hasn’t had a revolution because, Leftist propaganda to the contrary, the socio-economic boxes are not roach motels from which no one escapes. Instead, they’re stops along the road of one person’s life, or a family’s generations. People can check in and they can leave. Sometimes they move up and sometimes they move down, but movement is constant.

Of course, Obama and his crew are doing their damndest to halt this free flow of socio-economic movement. With true leftist instincts, through economic leveling, they want to consign this entire nation to the poverty box, subject to a few overlords who get to enjoy the nation’s vast resources. What these leftists don’t realize, though, is that America’s greatest resource has always been her people. Imprison them in poverty, and the overlords’ wealth will quickly vanish.

Why higher taxes are not the answer

Victor Davis Hanson hits it out of the park with his post explaining why higher taxes are not the answer.  Some of his twelve reasons are better than others, but all are worthy of your consideration.  This is my favorite of the twelve, but I think you’ll like them all:

2) Inequality?

Liberals reply that income inequality is worse than ever. (Note here in their own lives they have no problem with other “merit”-based inequality: e.g., Why can’t Johnny Depp turn down a couple of roles so other less fortunate actors could star? Why doesn’t Cornel West at last break up his endowed mega-salaried professorship into three or four lectureships for the struggling part-timers? Why doesn’t Maureen Dowd go down to one column every other week to allow less compensated New York Times op-ed writers a chance to catch up? In other words, why not back off from the trough and let others have a go?) But back to income inequality: some of those figures are not just attributable to the proliferation of $200,000 orthodontists, but to factoring in the mega-fortunes of a Johnny Depp ($50 million last year in income alone) or a Warren Buffett. The onset of a globalized market allowed a new top bracket to make tens of millions of dollars, a world away from the lesser professional. There is no aggregate homogenous group of “the wealthy.” My big-farming near neighbor (500 acres in vineyard plus), who probably nets $300,000 on a rare good raisin year like this one, is a world away from the late Steve Jobs or the thousands of million-dollar-plus incomes in Silicon Valley. This incongruence is not a rhetorical point or special pleading, but evident through the president’s own rhetoric: “Millionaires and billionaires” is a deliberate attempt to weld two disparate groups together — one making 1000 times the other (if the president is talking of annual income), or one worth 1000 times more than the other (if the president is talking about net worth). But is the Menlo Park bungalow owner who teaches at Foothill College and might be “worth” $1 million (given housing inflation) really comparable to Meg Whitman? Mr. Obama knows that there is not enough of the 1% of the 1% to come up with enough revenue to cover his new $4 trillion in debt, but does he think that by going after the top 5% or 10%, well, there just may be?

I’m actually sensitive to this comparison issue, because Marin skews things. In most other parts of America (other than the other rich liberal enclaves scattered about America), we’d be rich. In Marin, we’re squarely in the middle. Because prices here are so ridiculously high, we live in a middle house, drive middle cars, shop at middle stores, and send our kids to public schools. If we had the same income in Kansas or Texas, we’d be much more comfortably situated — and in Texas, we wouldn’t be turning more than 50% of our money over to the government (state, federal and local).

Of course, we could move, but I like it here:  our house is near my aged mother who is too old to be relocated; the temperate climate suits me, because I’m a wuss; and our neighborhood is unique by any standards, providing a truly perfect backdrop to raising decent, honest, nice children.