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Wednesday, 27 August 2014
All in the Script
Topic: Decline of the West

The shameless hypocrisy that characterizes American public life has been well on display recently in and about Ferguson, Missouri.

What does it take for our ruling elites to notice that large numbers of young black men are being gunned down on the streets of our cities? Why, of course, if the shooter happens to be white and better still if he happens to be a white police officer! Then the death of a young black man becomes a heinous crime. But in the much more common circumstance when a young black man is killed by another young black man…move along, folks, nothing to see here…

We’ve been here before, of course. When George Zimmerman shot Treyvon Martin, the media were quick to characterize the former as “white Hispanic,” a hitherto unknown ethnic category. When photos of Zimmerman surfaced, showing that he was unlikely ever to be mistaken for Elizabeth Warren’s brother, the media tied themselves into knots trying to analyze his “complicated” ethnicity. Surely there was some white racism in there someplace!

The shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson is, thankfully from the media’s point of view, a simpler case. The victim was black and the shooter was unambiguously white—a white police officer to boot! With that the civil rights industry—it stopped being a movement decades ago—was off and running. The standard-issue gaggle of horribles, Al Sharpton and Eric Holder leading the charge, rampaged across our TV screens barfing out the usual rhetoric. Another martyr had spilled his blood in the crusade to expose the vile racism of White Amerikka. The possibility that the facts of the case might tell a different story was not merely discounted but furiously denounced as thought crime.

There was, indeed, something phony about it all—all, that is, except the looting and burning of businesses in Ferguson. The desire for free stuff, the thrill of wanton destruction, those were heartfelt emotions. But who could look at the Rev. Sharpton without thinking that he was some kind of malign Muppet, or listen to the blathering of earnest pundits without knowing in advance what they would say? It was all in the script.

Meanwhile in Chicago there have been 1,292 shooting victims in Chicago from 1 January 2014 to date. Here are the details of just one of those shootings: At about 9 pm on 10 August, a 16-year-old boy named Jabari Scurlock was shot and killed in an alley on the 5900 block of South Justine Street on the South Side. He was the only shooting victim who lost his life that weekend in Chicago, though 26 other people were wounded. Need I add that Jabari’s death attracted no attention from Al Sharpton, Eric Holder or the national media?

During Michael Brown’s funeral, which received national news coverage, he was eulogized as a “gentle soul”—though the store clerk that he pushed around shortly before his fatal encounter with Officer Wilson might beg to disagree.  His death at the hands of a white cop has made Brown a celebrity. But few people have heard about the death of Jabari Scurlock.

What does that tell you?

Posted by tmg110 at 7:55 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 27 August 2014 8:02 AM EDT
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Monday, 25 August 2014
Comprehensive Folly
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Don’t even ask me to try any dish whose name includes the word “surprise” (Tuna Surprise is the classic example). And don’t bother to solicit my support for any piece of legislation described as “comprehensive.”

When applied to legislation at the federal level the adjective “comprehensive” is Newspeak for “insanely bloated, insanely complicated, completely incomprehensible, containing within its bowels some very unpleasant surprises” (the most recent example is Obamacare). So it is with any broad-scale attempt to solve a complex problem by legislating it away. Comprehensive legislation is the ultimate power fantasy of those for whom social science is the Moving Finger. All the social ills that bedeviled past generations are waiting to be sponged away! With a few studies and an application of expertise, and providing that the legislative language is properly tweaked…

It requires a peculiar view of reality to convince one’s self that the healthcare system of a nation of 330,000,000 people can be streamlined and improved by 2,000 pages of legislative language backed up by 10,000+ closely printed pages (and counting) of bureaucratic jargon. But people like Ezra Klein actually believe this to be possible. That he and people like him, up to and including Barack Obama, are opinionated self-deceivers is so obvious that it needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Indeed, the presidency of Barack Obama to date constitutes an extended lesson in the folly of expertise: the notion that smart people armed with specialized knowledge have what it takes to “remake America”—as Obama put it. He has remade it, all right, just not in the manner originally envisioned.

Now of course Obama’s personal deficiencies—hubris, narcissism, dishonesty—have played a major role in the demise of the Grand Illusion of 2008. . To a second-class intellect Obama adds a third-class temperament. But these vices have been magnified by systemic problems with the progressive world-view to which the President pledges allegiance. His hubris is amalgamated with a set of beliefs that estrange him from the country he purports to lead. And they reinforce the isolation, the disconnection from common reality, with which all presidents have to contend.

Whether Obama himself pays respect to the cult of expertise is a doubtful question. It’s hard to imagine the guy conceding that anyone else knows more than him. But to the considerable extent that he has promoted the cult, our Community Organizer-in-Chief has done great harm upon America.


Posted by tmg110 at 12:15 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 25 August 2014 12:26 PM EDT
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Thursday, 21 August 2014
Populism Isn't What It Used to Be...
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Just a quick observation: Among the many amusing phenomena in contemporary American politics is the rise of Senator Elizabeth Warren, Populist Heroine. That’s Elizabeth Warren the multimillionaire, Harvard elitist, affirmative action beneficiary…

Yes, yes, I know, FDR was a rich elitist too, and he successfully posed as a champion of the little guy. But FDR had (as Oliver Wendell Holmes is supposed to have put it) a first-class temperament. One can hardly say that of the shrewish Warren, who reminds me of nothing so much as a female version of the Original Elitist, Woodrow Wilson.

Posted by tmg110 at 4:26 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 21 August 2014 4:27 PM EDT
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Elephant Stampede?
Topic: Politics & Elections

In 2010 the Republican Party blew its chance to regain control of the US Senate. A lineup of subpar candidates—Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, Sharron Angle in Nevada, etc.—snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a very good year for Republicans. And Democrats had their fingers crossed this year, hoping that the influence of Tea Party crazies would once more crush the GOP’s Senate hopes. 

No such luck. 

In the key states where control of the Senate will be determined, Republican primaries produced candidates favored by the party establishment, i.e. candidates unlikely to commit the tyro blunders that some Tea Party-backed candidates committed in 2010. Nor did the Tea Party succeed in unseating any of the incumbent Republican senators up for reelection this year. A net six seats must flip from the Democrats to the Republicans for the latter to win a Senate majority and that goal now seems well within reach. 

Democrats, on the other hand, have been hit with a series of setbacks. Earlier this month the campaign of Montana Democratic Senator John Walsh collapsed over charges of plagiarism, crushing the last fleeting hope that the party might retain control of the Senate seat held for 35 years by Max Baucus, who resigned after being nominated as ambassador to China by President Obama. Montana Governor Steve Bullock Walsh had named Walsh, the lieutenant governor, to serve out the brief remainder of Baucus’s term. Until felled by scandal, Walsh was running hard for election in his own right. His replacement for the 2014 election is a little-known state representative, Amanda Curtis

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, her reelection already in doubt, has been staggered with accusations of improper use of taxpayer dollars to fund campaign travel. The Louisiana Senate race had been rated as tough but winnable for the Dems, so Landrieu’s travails come as very unwelcome news indeed. 

The Democratic Party’s Senate prospects are further compromised—perhaps fatally—by Barack Obama’s plunging popularity. Gone are the golden days of the 2008 campaign and the first two years of his tenure. Aloof, out of touch, seemingly bored with his job, the President casts a cloud of gloom over the landscape of Democratic Party politics. With an approval rating in the vicinity of 40%, he’s a millstone around the neck of every Democratic candidate in a competitive race. Whoever would have thought that Barack H. Obama would turn out to be the Democrat’s George W. Bush? 

For Democrats, the 2014 outlook is grim. They could always play for a miracle, I suppose, and at this point they’d be well advised to get down on their knees…

Posted by tmg110 at 9:20 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 19 August 2014
No Injustice, No Peace
Topic: Decline of the West

We actually don’t know much about what happened between the late Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson. That Wilson shot Brown is not in dispute. That Wilson executed Brown, or that he was defending himself against a violent assault by Brown, are speculative claims. That Brown was not shot in the back as some witnesses have claimed is suggestive—but of what? Though this tends to support Officer Wilson’s account of the fatal encounter, it certainly does not exonerate him. The facts of the case remain to be determined.

But the facts have become irrelevant.  Like the Trayvon Martin shooting, the killing of Michael Brown has become a cause célèbre, emblematic of issues ranging from white racism to the militarization of the police. The latter, indeed, has been much commented upon, though not in connection with the incident itself. It was the community’s reaction to the shooting and the police response to disorder in the streets that got people wringing their hands over police militarization. I find this peculiar. Clearly, the police should be properly equipped and trained to deal with civil unrest. That riot gear makes cops look more military in no way proves that a particular police department has evolved into a paramilitary gendarmerie. And in fact, despite all the moaning about police militarization I have seen no tanks, armored fighting vehicles, machine guns or grenade launchers deployed on the streets of Ferguson. A Hummer with light armor to protect against rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails, etc. seems to me to be a good investment for any police department likely to be faced with violent demonstrations and riots. Though police militarization is a worrying trend in America, to be sure—why does the Department of Agriculture need a SWAT team?—it has nothing to do with the crisis in Ferguson.

The real problem in Ferguson, Missouri is the loud and raucous demand for the Queen of Heart’s justice: sentence first, verdict second. Michael Brown was black; Officer Darren Wilson is white. Therefore Wilson is guilty: first of racism and then of murder. And if the facts demonstrate otherwise, then the facts must be changed or disregarded. It’s a situation that both Lewis Carroll and George Orwell would have understood.

I don’t doubt that relations between the largely white Ferguson police department and the mostly black community are bad. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that many officers regard the people they’re supposed to protect and serve with fear and dislike. You can call this racism but mostly it’s situational racism: the kind that makes you and me cross the street to avoid a group of young black men. But a police officer can’t cross the street. We pay him to deal with the Michael Browns of the world. Then when the inevitable happens we strike an indignant pose. And many of us close our eyes to the evil attendant on such incidents: the cry for revolutionary justice.

It isn’t that Darren Wilson is going to be dragged into the street and hacked to death. He’ll get his day in court and if the facts of the case are as he related them he’ll be cleared of criminal wrongdoing. No, the problem is that the blood lust of the mob—and that’s what it is, make no mistake—will not be sated, even if Eric Holder manages to convict Darren Wilson of some civil-rights violation. That which the mob wants—his head on a pike, the Queen of Heart’s topsy-turvy justice—it will not receive. Give us Wilson’s head on a pike, the people say, and there will be peace. Which is another way of saying that peace in Ferguson and elsewhere in urban America where similar conditions obtain is a long way off.

Posted by tmg110 at 9:02 AM EDT
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Monday, 18 August 2014
Progressives Are Idiots: Exhibit MCLXLVIII
Topic: Liberal Fascism

According to Rob Reiner: “You can’t negotiate with that, you have to say either Hamas goes away and the Palestinian authority takes over all that region and deal with some kind of honest broker here, and create the two-state solution. Anytime you’re dealing with an extreme group, you cannot negotiate with them, and the way to do it is to eliminate it. With the Tea Party, you have to go through political thing, you have to wait till 2020 to redistrict, but that is really tough stuff.”

Yes, Rob, it' such a pity that you have to go through that annoying political thing.  If only you could get President Obama to call in a few drone strikes on those extremist Tea Party demonstrations…

What a moron. 

Posted by tmg110 at 5:50 PM EDT
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Slouching Toward Whatever
Topic: Decline of the West

So Barack Obama has returned to Iraq—reluctantly, sullenly, whining and crying every step of the way. He thought he'd shaken the dust of the place off his wingtips, he didn't want to go back, but this is what happens when you tout a craven and dishonorable bolt for the exit as a magnificent foreign policy triumph.

The Greatest President Absolutely Ever wasn't content to slither out of Iraq. No, he had to send forth his veep, the comical Joe Biden, to assure the American people that Iraq would be the Obama Administration's greatest foreign policy success story! And that's why Barry's back with drones, pinprick airstrikes and military "evaluators." He didn't tell the truth about what he was doing in 2011 when all US forces were summarily withdrawn from Iraq: that America was abandoning that country to a grisly fate. So now he's doing his always-inadequate best to moderate the catastrophe that he did so much to create. If the cost in terms of human life and suffering wasn't so high, I'd be rolling on the floor laughing at Obama's utter incompetence. A name picked at random from the phone book could do the job better.

Posted by tmg110 at 5:41 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 18 August 2014 5:53 PM EDT
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Monday, 11 August 2014
The Very Model of a Useful Idiot
Topic: Liberal Fascism

The idea that Hamas, an Islamofascist terrorist organization, is capable of attracting support from American feminists may seem incredible. After all, its attitude toward equal rights for women is…not very enlightened. But let us not forget that American feminism = progressivism = hatred of Israel. So it's no surprise to find an American feminist vomiting up such rhetoric as this:

I mourn genocide in Gaza because I am the granddaughter of a family half wiped out in a holocaust and I know genocide when I see it. People are asking why I am taking this ‘side’. There are no sides. I mourn all victims. But every law of war and international law is being broken in the targeting of civilians in Gaza. I stand with the people of Gaza exactly because things might have turned out differently if more people had stood with the Jews in Germany. I stand with the people of Gaza because no one stood with us. I went to synagogue last Friday night and had to leave because I kept waiting for the massacre of Gaza to be addressed. … Nothing. Where is god? God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice. I turn in my card of faith as of now because of our overwhelming silence as Jews…I don’t mean Israelis, a separate issue…about the genocide now in Gaza.

Also sprach the inimitable Naomi Wolf. Now you may say that a woman capable of writing the biography of her own vagina is a woman capable of any intellectual or moral outrage. But let's face it, this nonsense of hers well reflects the views of enlightened progressives. Which is to say that they don't blink at an obscenity: comparing the Holocaust, the deliberate mass murder of some six million human beings, to the current Gaza crisis. And Wolf herself is a Jew! Very obviously, for all her hand-wringing moral outrage, she has never come to terms with one of the great crimes of the late century. But how useful her idiocy is to Hamas, and how its leaders must be high-fiving one another at this and similar examples of enlightened foolery.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:08 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 11 August 2014 8:28 AM EDT
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Friday, 1 August 2014
What You Don't Know Could Kill You
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Is Obamacare really a good idea? Who knows?

There’s not one single individual person in America, the world or this quadrant of the Galaxy who understands the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act. Barack Obama doesn’t understand it, nor does anybody in his administration, nor does anybody in Congress, academia or the media. There are some people who will tell you that they understand it, but such people are either lying to you or to themselves. Now this may strike you as a provocative statement, barfed out by an Obama opponent (me) who’s just trying to get a rise out of the President’s adorers. But it isn’t. I’m stating no more than the truth.

The original ACA legislation ran to 2,800 pages and most members of Congress—both those who supported and those who opposed it—didn’t read the whole thing. What was the point? As then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi explained, the only way to find out what was in the bill was to pass it. So congressional Democrats did pass it—but even so we’re none the wiser. How could that be?

By the end of 2013, the regulations required to implement Obamacare already ran to more than 10,000 small-print pages. Think about that. Is it plausible—is it even possible—that somewhere in the bowels of the federal bureaucracy there exists an oracle who understands how those 2,800 pages of legislation and 10,000+ pages of regulations work together to protect patients and make healthcare more affordable? Of course not. Even before the first regulation was promulgated, the length and complexity of the ACA was such that no one really understood how it would work in practice. Practically from day one the Obama Administration found itself issuing waivers, making exceptions and reinterpreting legislative language in a desperate attempt to keep the whole thing from collapsing under the weight of its own complications. Policy wonks tend to be contemptuous of the Law of Unintended Consequences. But their very desire to nail everything down, to cover all the bases, to address every possible situation, drives them to pile complications upon elaborations upon contingencies. And it is in this tangled labyrinth of wonkiness that the Law of Unintended Consequences does it most destructive work.

In 2009, uberwonk Ezra Klein, then with the Washington Postopined that it was “silly” for members of Congress to read the ACA before passing it. They could never understand it, he sniffed, and neither could the public. The implication was, of course, that Ezra Klein, with his deep understanding of the legislative process and deep-dyed wonkiness did understand it. Therefore America: Don’t worry! Be happy!

But of course we can see now that Ezra Klein and his tribe no more understand Obamacare than they do particle physics. Neither do I. And neither do you. We’ll all just have to live with Obamacare to find out how it works—or doesn’t work. Now I ask you, is this any way to reform American healthcare?

Posted by tmg110 at 10:44 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 3 August 2014 10:14 AM EDT
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Thursday, 31 July 2014
It's All About John
Topic: Decline of the West

Whatever you think of the Gaza crisis, it’s hard to summon up much sympathy for the bone-headed US Secretary of State, John Kerry. His misbegotten push for a two-state peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel set the table for the current conflict. And his frenetic attempts to broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel have had the ludicrous effect of making the US appear more supportive of Hamas than many Arab countries—this despite the fact that the US government classifies Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Kerry painted himself into this corner after Israel accepted and Hamas rejected an Egyptian ceasefire proposal. Egypt’s new military-dominated government is no great friend of the Gaza terror group, which it regards as a close cousin of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. So when Hamas brushed off Cairo’s proposed ceasefire, the Egyptians opted to sit back and let the fighting rage. After all, Israel in Gaza was dealing a heavy blow to Islamism, that amalgam of religious fundamentalism and quasi-fascist political ideology that Egypt and most of the other conservative Arab states view with fear and revulsion. So if Hamas was unwilling to take the deal that Cairo had put together, then Hamas—and the Palestinian residents in Gaza—would just have to take the consequences.

Well, that didn’t suit John Kerry, and he immediately turned to two of Hamas’ backers, Turkey and Qatar, who were more than happy to craft a ceasefire plan that met all the demands of Hamas but was certain to be rejected by Israel. And so it was, to the accompaniment of a barrage of criticism from the Israeli press and government officials. For while Kerry was wheeling and dealing, the IDF in Gaza was uncovering evidence of Hamas plans for a large-scale terrorist incursion into Israel via a system of tunnels whose scope and sophistication came as a severe shock to the Israeli government and public. The discovery of the tunnel system hardened Israel’s determination to finish the fight in Gaza, stripping Hamas of its military capabilities once and for all. Yet here was the United States Secretary of State, the chief diplomatic representative of Israel’s close ally, pushing hard for a Hamas-friendly ceasefire!

It was an embarrassing moment for the US government, as the tone of subsequent statements in support of the Secretary so clearly showed. Various officials fumed about the unkind things that had been said about Kerry in Israel, whining that “allies and partners” don’t treat one another in such a mean and hurtful manner. All of a sudden it seemed that the Gaza crisis was all about John Kerry's hurt feelings! Apparently his ham-handed incompetence is accompanied by an overweening sense of self-regard and the thin skin of a beleaguered adolescent—not exactly the ideal personality type for a diplomat. Come to think of it, though, a guy like that is really the perfect secretary of state for the jumped-up president of the senior class for whom he works.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:51 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 31 July 2014 12:25 PM EDT
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