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Sunday, 19 October 2014
The Mask Drops
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Liberals, progressives and leftists make a practice of slandering their political foes by equating them with Nazis, Holocaust deniers, serial killers, rapists, etc., etc. But they become positively livid when their own totalitarian proclivities are pointed out. Because, you see, when the Left barges into people’s bedrooms or suppresses speech, that’s okay! It’s being done in the name of inclusion, tolerance, sensitivity—so just shut up!

Take the gay major of Houston, Annise Parker. She got her knickers into a twist over criticism of the city’s gay/transgender-focused Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). Parker championed this measure, which was enacted last May. Among other things, HERO permits transgender people to use either a male or female restroom. Who knew that free access to the toilet facilities of one’s choice is a burning civil rights issue? Anyhow, this provision of HERO did not receive a cordial reception. It was mocked and derided as the “bathroom bill” and a campaign was launched to get the whole silly thing repealed via referendum. But the city attorney ruled that many of the signatures on the referendum petition were invalid, the question didn’t make it to the ballot. Referendum supporters, arguing that the city attorney’s action was illegal are suing the city. Mayor Parker has promised not to enforce HERO until there’s a court ruling.

But Her Honor was displeased with the opposition, much of which emanated from Houston’s large and influential evangelical community. So guess what Parker did? Pursuant to the court case, she subpoenaed the sermons of several pastors who’ve been particularly outspoken about HERO!

Now you may well wonder how stupid a politician has to be to convince herself that subpoenaing sermons is a good idea. But Parker is a progressive, remember. Moreover she’s gay and therefore can do no wrong. So anyone who criticizes or opposes her must be a homophobe—and homophobes, as every good progressive knows, cannot claim the protection of the First Amendment. Thus Parker’s undoubted stupidity is privileged. No doubt I could be subpoenaed for pointing out her stupidity. And her malice. And her totalitarian mind-set. Not to mention her pusillanimity.

When the predictable storm of protest broke, Parker ducked and covered. She denied knowledge of the subpoenas (supposedly they’d been requested by a couple of pro bono attorneys working for the city) and of course officials denied that they were attempting to intimidate the pastors and other opponents of the HERO. No, all they wanted was information pertaining to the gathering of signatures for the referendum petition. But judge for yourself. Here’s the information the city was seeking: “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

Annise Parker and her city hall cabal can deny it all they want, but it’s obvious what they were up to: attempting to intimidate and silence their opponents. Nor did they hesitate one second to use—or rather misuse—the authority entrusted to them by the people of Houston. But in their narrow-minded self-righteousness they let the mask drop, exposing the granite visage of the Thought Police.

Posted by tmg110 at 1:13 PM EDT
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Thursday, 16 October 2014
Rachel Nails It
Topic: Politics & Elections

If you’re wondering how next month’s elections are going to go, permit me to sponge away the uncertainty: Republicans are going to expand their majority in the House and take control of the Senate. How do I know this? Because MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is whining that the GOP is plotting to steal the election. In other words—let the excuse-making begin!

Yes, yes, I’m sure than in their saner moments Maddow and other leftie nosebleeds know that the Democrats’ impending electoral rout is due mainly to the public’s perception of Barack Obama’s incompetence, an image problem fully and justly shared by his party. But though Maddow & Co. would rather sacrifice a limb than admit it, the problem goes deeper. “Answer: raise taxes! Now what was the question?” That pretty much sums up the Democratic governing philosophy in the Age of the Lightbringer. As for campaign strategy, bombast about “inequality” and the “war on women” falls flat at the feet of Mr. & Ms. Flyover America, who’d just like to see the economy performing as it did when Ronald Reagan and even Bill Clinton were hanging out in the Oval Office.

But whine on, Rachel. Your lament is music to my ears…

Posted by tmg110 at 9:37 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 14 October 2014
End Times Update
Topic: Decline of the West

To look at the Drudge Report recently you’d think that the world is coming to an end in the style of Stephen King’s The Stand. Ebola! It’s here! Be afraid, America! Be very afraid! This in reaction to a single new case in Dallas,  Texas: a nurse who was closely involved in the treatment of Thomas Duncan, the Liberian who brought Ebola to the United States. The fact that the nurse became infected despite wearing “full protective gear” has caused much hand-wringing on TV and the Web.

So should we press the panic button? Well, no. In a nation of 300,000,000+ people, one single case of Ebola is not catastrophic. This disease is deadly but not particularly contagious; to contract it requires close contact with bodily fluids: blood, saliva, vomit, etc. For that very reason it was always to be expected that a doctor or nurse, closely involved in Duncan’s care, might become infected. Nor are protective measures proof against accident or human error—a “breach in protocol” as CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden put it.

While the Obama Administration’s hesitant and fumbling response to the Ebola crisis needlessly alarmed the public and created a major public-relations problem, the CDC’s response seems to have been reasonably competent. And really, the possibility of a major Ebola epidemic in the United States is close to zero. There may be more cases but fortunately we live in a modern nation with a sophisticated public health infrastructure. So calm down, America! The End of the World has not yet arrived.

Posted by tmg110 at 9:53 PM EDT
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Thursday, 9 October 2014
Palestinian Dreaming
Topic: Decline of the West

There’s no denying that Israel has a serious public-relations problem.

Over the past thirty years or so Jewish state’s image as a small, heroic nation of pioneers and warriors has faded out. The postmodern colonialist narrative of people like the late Edward Said combined with traditional Arab anti-Semitism to produce a new and far less flattering image: the ugly caricature of an imperialist, racist colonial overlord. Things have gone so far that people who think themselves progressive and enlightened do not blush to compare Israel to Nazi Germany, the plight of the Palestinian people to the Holocaust.

The long-range aim of these people—Western progressives and Jew-hating Arabs—is to delegitimize Israel and demoralize its people. Eventually, its enemies, the Jews will lose heart and give up their dream of a Jewish state. And if the end of Israel is accompanied by pogroms and perhaps even genocide…oh well, the Jews will have only themselves to blame.

It’s certainly plausible to suppose that the unremitting hostility of the “world community” will eventually have that effect. Are not the people of Israel sick and tired of their quasi-fascist government? Are not they clamoring for peace at any price? Well, no. As Jonathan Tobin explains in this post on the Commentary “Contentions” blog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to win a third consecutive term, this time with a solidly right-wing majority. His current centrist allies are expected to fare poorly in the elections probably to take place next year, while the peace-at-any-price Israeli Left has lost all credibility. This is so despite Netanyahu’s lack of personal popularity both at home and abroad. How is it possible?

The short answer is that Netanyahu’s policies reflect Israeli public opinion, which has given up all hope of concluding a peace agreement with the Palestinians. As Tobin notes, most Israelis would be happy to be rid of responsibility for the West Bank. They see, however, that the Palestinian Authority has no intention of negotiating a peace settlement that recognizes Israel’s right to exist and its legitimate security concerns. The recent Gaza crisis only reinforced these views. Until the Palestinians have a change of heart, until they give up their fantasies of the destruction of the Jewish state, Israeli public opinion is content to let the peace process stagnate.

This explains why the Obama Administration’s confrontational policy toward Israel has failed to bear fruit. It was based on the idea that by brow-beating Israel, Obama & Co. could turn Israeli public opinion against Netanyahu and produce a government more amenable to the President’s views. In fact, though, Obama’s bullying has had the opposite effect, convincing a strong majority of Israelis that he’s no friend of their country. The credibility thus lost by the US president has been credited to the political account of the Israeli prime minister.

The ultimate losers are, of course, the wretched Palestinian people. Their leaders will never agree to a peace settlement that might spell the end of their own power. Their supporters in Europe and America merely encourage the delusion of a Jew-free Palestine that makes a genuine peace agreement possible. The American president has spent the past five years alienating the Israeli people and destroying their faith in the peace process. When one’s great friends are more of a threat than one’s deadly enemies, an agonizing reappraisal is in order. But it does seem that the Palestinian people are prepared to pay a high price for the maintenance of their dream world.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:39 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 9 October 2014 12:02 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 8 October 2014
What's for Lunch? Don't Ask!
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Back in 2008-09 there were fears on the Right that Michelle Obama would prove to be her husband’s éminence grise, operating behind the curtain to impose Hyde Park-style socialism on Flyover America. Then Michelle turned out to be pretty much of a diva and we all relaxed. Sure, I have no doubt that she whispers her opinions into Barry’s ear from time to time but the man has too much self-regard to take anybody’s advice, even his wife’s. What the President wants is what he gets from Valerie Jarrett above all: unqualified hero worship.

Like all modern First Ladies, Michelle Obama looked around for a cause in whose service she could labor: in her case, child nutrition. Sounds pretty innocuous, eh? But somehow the whole thing has blown up in the First Lady’s face. It’s not hard to see why. As a good progressive Michelle adopted the authoritarian top-down approach: If they’re eating cake let them cut that out and eat their veggies instead. Her campaign focused on school lunch programs which since they’re heavily subsidized by the federal government are vulnerable to bureaucratic shoe-squeezing. Out with the bad (sweets, soda pop, salt, fat, etc.) and in with the good (fruits, veggies, portion control).

Whatever the nutritional virtues of School Lunch by Michelle, it takes little account of human psychology; the assumption seems to be that the kids will eat what’s put in front of them. That Michelle Obama, a mother of two, assumed so is rather hilarious. Now the inevitable has happened: From coast to coast kids (and their parents and even some schools) are rising in revolt against the skimpy, unappetizing fare being slapped on their trays by bureaucratic fiat. They simply refuse to eat what’s put in front of them.

Yes, yes, I know—the First Lady’s intentions were of the best. The same is true of many projects of progressivism, large and small. That they produce results similar to Michelle Obama’s school lunch fiasco should teach the Left something but somehow never does…

Posted by tmg110 at 2:42 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 9 October 2014 7:39 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 7 October 2014
The End of Naomi?
Topic: Liberal Fascism

It’s pleasant to recall that I excoriated Naomi Wolf and her zany anti-Bush screed, The End of America, back in 2008—very appropriately, on April Fool’s Day. Not the least delicious morsel of this memory is the chorus of praise that The End of America attracted from the leftie fever swamps, e.g. this prize piece of idiocy: “At once a brilliant indictment of the Bush administration, The End of America, explains in blunt terms how the last 7 years have paralleled the same steps taken during the 20th century that led to the dictatorships of Italy, Russia, China, Germany, and Chile.” Yeah, blunt. And thoroughly demented.

At the time I took Wolf for an extreme exemplar of Bush Derangement Syndrome but it appears that her problems go deeper than that. For in the years since Chimpy McBushitler disappeared into retirement, Wolf’s paranoia and craziness have only grown. In fact, as Charles C.W. Cook recounts in this item for National Review Online, the demented diva of doom is still warning of an American fascist apocalypse—in the Age of Barry! For example, she’s running around shrieking that the US government is using the Ebola crisis as a convenient pretext for the imposition of martial law. You can read all about this and more on Wolf’s Facebook page.

Progressives and lefties like to make fun of the Right’s occasional obsessions: Obama’s supposedly suspect citizenship status, Second Amendment fundamentalism, etc. But if anything, the obsessions of the Left are far more unhinged. Thinking of Wolf, I’m reminded also of Andrew Sullivan’s weird fixation on Sarah Palin’s gynecological history and of Al Gore’s fantasy map of drowned Florida. Moreover it seems that once you develop a taste for such hyperbole it rapidly develops into an addiction. If her Facebook page is any indication, Naomi Wolf sees fascists, agents of SPECTRE, vampires, zombies and Little Green Men everywhere. She’s even retailing the claim that shadowy royalist forces suppressed the pro-independence vote in the recent Scottish referendum. Check out her extended analysis of the bogus ballot barcodes!

Even many on the Left have finally had enough of Wolf; see this disdainful January 2013 article by Mark Nucklos in the Atlantic. Well, better late than never. But Wolf, like Noam Chomsky, will no doubt drive on, her path strewn with palm branches, the hosannas of her loyal fan base ringing in her ears—but no attendant in the chariot with her to deliver the occasional whispered admonition, “Remember, thou art as loony as a junkyard rat.”

Posted by tmg110 at 8:37 AM EDT
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Friday, 3 October 2014
A Prophet Deserving No Honor
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Via another Web venue I was directed to this review of the first volume of Richard Dawkins’ memoirs, An Appetite for Wonder: The Makings of a Scientist. The reviewer, John Gray is emeritus professor of European thought at the London School of Economics.

Dawkins has become famous—some would say notorious—as the scientific face of militant atheism. Trained as a scientist, he gave up active research in the 1970s, embarking on a career as a…what? Enemy of religion? Prophet of scientific rationalism? In numerous books, Dawkins has not only criticized but mocked and caricatured religion and its practitioners. His is the most forceful voice preaching the doctrine of the (self-described) reality-based community: that “good science” provides the only organizing principle that humanity needs. Darwin good, God bad.

This notion—one hesitates to call it an idea—is widely held in progressive circles and so has thus become a factor in politics. Climate change activists embrace it with fervor, pointing to a “scientific consensus” that in their minds forecloses all debate. For many people, few of them scientifically trained, the imprimatur of “Science” (the capital S reverberates) trumps every ace. 

A certain phrase came irresistibly to mind comes as I contemplated Dawkins’ scientism—in Gray’s formulation “the positivistic creed according to which science is the only source of knowledge and the key to human liberation.” That phrase is “modern scientific religion” and I hasten to add that I can’t claim credit for coining it. It’s to be found it in Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men (1930), a novel of ideas far beyond the grasp of Richard Dawkins’ narrowly circumscribed imagination.

Last and First Men, a fictional future history of humanity, begins with an account of the decline and fall of the first human species—H. sapiens. The chief symptom of that fall is the degeneration of science. Stapledon describes how the “once fluid doctrines of science” crystallize into a kind of scientific fundamentalism—“modern scientific religion”—that tyrannizes over the collective consciousness of the race for 4,000 years. When the terminal crisis—an energy crisis—arrives, humanity lacks the mental agility to cope and civilization falls to pieces. Scientific positivism, in short, is the death warrant of the intellect.

All this constitutes a powerful if indirect critique of Dawkins’ scientism. Stapledon thought that humanity’s spiritual cravings could not be eliminated, but only suppressed and corrupted, by a narrow rationalism. The history of socialism, supposedly a scientific ideology based on facts and analysis, bears out the truth of this insight. The spiritual impulses that underpin religion can just as easily be channeled into politics. And the True Believer—in socialism, fascism, science—usually turns out to be no less doctrinaire, no less intolerant, than the most fanatical Islamist.

In his review of Dawkins’ memoir Professor Gray touches on many of these chords. On the whole his tone is moderate but from time to time a certain disdain breaks through: “One might wager a decent sum of money that it has never occurred to Dawkins that to many people he appears as a comic figure. His default mode is one of rational indignation—a stance of withering patrician disdain for the untutored mind of a kind one might expect in a schoolmaster in a minor public school sometime in the 1930s.” A touch there—a distinct touch.

As a postmodern public intellectual Richard Dawkins displays traits typical of the breed: intellectual snobbery, inveterate bigotry, narrow-minded dogmatism. One could call him, indeed, the Barack Obama of scientism.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:35 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 3 October 2014 9:08 AM EDT
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Thursday, 2 October 2014
Dropped as a Baby?
Topic: Decline of the West

Actress and feminist heroine Lena Dunham has a problem with the common expression TMI (too much information). See, it’s sexist because, you know, when a man shares his experiences he’s praised for being brave but when a woman tries to share…TMI.

Perhaps she’s generalizing from her own experiences. I can certainly understand why people might run screaming into the night if Lena Dunham offered to share her experiences with them. Still, I hate to think that anyone—even a celebrity!—could actually be stupid enough to think that TMI is a linguistic bludgeon of the patriarchy. But if want of brain is not the explanation of Ms. Dunham’s cluelessness then what is…?

Posted by tmg110 at 10:43 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 3 October 2014 6:44 AM EDT
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Playing to Lose in Iraq
Topic: Decline of the West

You may or may not agree with President Obama’s decision to make war on ISIS, the Islamofascist group that has conquered large portions of Syria and Iraq. One thing that all reasonable people can agree on, though, is that airpower alone can’t do the job. If the President is serious about defeating ISIS, he must sooner or later commit US ground troops in a combat role.
Whether he really is serious about ISIS is doubtful. Obama’s tone and body language give the impression of a man afflicted with chagrin and embarrassment. Having unilaterally declared that the war on terror was over and done with—his own version of George W. Bush’s much-derided “mission accomplished” moment— the President is obviously not pleased to be facing this new crisis. When Barry bugged out of Iraq his vice president, the inimitable Joe Biden, crowed that Iraq would be remembered as the Obama Administration’s greatest foreign policy triumph. When Obama agonized over Syria, his claque produced long lists of reasons why doing nothing was the smart call. But now—better late than never!—the President realizes that something must be done. But what that something is remains obscure. He’s sure of one thing though: No US boots on the ground!
And that’s the problem. If Obama really means what he says—that no US ground troops will be committed to the fight against ISIS—then he’s not serious about defeating ISIS. Air strikes can harass the enemy, break up troop concentrations, destroy installations and equipment, degrade communications. But they cannot, in and of themselves, roll back the ISIS tide or eject ISIS from the broad swaths of territory it now controls. Only ground troops can do that and the President’s idea that such troops can be provided by “regional partners”—variously the moderate Syrian opposition, the Kurds, the Iraqi Army, other Arab states—is wishful thinking.
The Iraqi Army, poorly trained and badly led, has already been soundly beaten by ISIS. The Kurds seem capable of defending their own turf but have little capacity and, probably, little interest in taking the offensive against ISIS. The so-called moderate Syrian opposition was in the recent past derided by the same Obama Administration that appeals to it now. Other Arab may wish to intervene against ISIS but their military capabilities are strictly limited, particularly as regards logistics, and their ability to deploy large forces to Iraq is doubtful. Only the United States can supply the ground force necessary to rally those faltering regional partners and win the war.
It need not be a large force. The intervention of a single US combat brigade, buttressed by special operations units and powerfully supported from the air, would provide the margin of superiority necessary to eject ISIS from Iraq. Syria, disjointed by civil war, is a more difficult problem. In the end it will probably be necessary to prop up the hateful Assad regime, a gloomy prospect for which we have Obama’s dithering to thank. But as bad as Assad and his henchmen are, ISIS is worse.
So here we are and it's time for Barack Obama to make up his mind. Either he’s serious about defeating ISIS or he isn’t. Either he does what’s necessary to win or he folds his hand. Half-measures in the form of air strikes micromanaged by the White House won’t cut it and, indeed, are likely to make a bad situation worse.

Posted by tmg110 at 4:57 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 2 October 2014 4:58 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 30 September 2014
What They Didn't Know
Topic: Decline of the West

If you’re old enough to remember the Carter-era energy crisis, this story should provoke a contemptuous smile: US poised to become world’s leading liquid petroleum producer.

In the late 1970s such a headline was unimaginable. As far as the nation’s elites and opinion leaders were concerned the era of limits had arrived. The end of oil was upon us—necessitating price controls, rationing and (of course) shared sacrifice. Lugubrious lectures by President Carter spread gloom throughout the land. Price controls were duly put in place. But liberals were not satisfied. With his trademark pomposity the late Senator Ted Kennedy demanded a nationwide gas rationing program, to be administered (of course) by the federal government. And if Jimmy Carter had been reelected in 1980, gas rationing would surely have followed. Then as now the Left’s motto was: Never to let a crisis go to waste.

They were all wrong, of course. Price controls failed disastrously, depressing oil production and exacerbating shortages. But this was merely a detail. Where the elites and the experts really blew it was in supposing that the actual end of oil was just around the corner. They thought that oil production had peaked and was set to decline. This had to be, they explained, because, you see, the world’s oil resources are finite. There’s only so much of the stuff!

Today we can see how very wrong they were and it’s fortunate indeed that the election of 1980 brought Ronald Reagan to power. During the campaign he was asked what he’d do about the energy crisis and his answer was: remove price controls on oil. Was that all? Yes, that was all. You’ll not be surprised to learn that Reagan was widely mocked for his ignorant, simplistic view of the issue. What a dunce! But one of his first actions on taking office was to abolish those Carter Administration’s price controls on oil and gas. Production increased, the pump price of gas began to fall, and the era of limits was over—just like that.

There was an obvious lesson to be drawn from this episode but liberals and lefties did not absorb it. Having bewitched themselves with the idea that oil was running out, they embraced it with quasi-religious fervor. An abiding characteristic of the Left is its attraction to crisis and catastrophe. Looming disaster demands action, does it not? And is not government the only entity with the expertise and resources necessary to cope with disaster? Thus “peak oil” became an article of faith in left-liberal circles and it was always just around the corner.

Now it’s true of course that the world’s supply of crude oil is finite. How finite, though? Well, nobody has the slightest idea. Peak oil predictions based on proven reserves of oil were always bogus. Far from being a hard number, “proven reserves” is an estimate based on a variety of factors including price and technology. Not all oil is created equal. In the case of an oil field where the cost of extraction exceeds the profit point, that oil will stay in the ground and will not be counted as part of proven reserves. But if the price of crude rises, or if new technology lowers the cost of extraction, that oil will be added to proven reserves.

These factors—technology and price—are also the drivers of America’s twenty-first century energy revolution. The former both lowers the cost of extraction and aids in the discovery of new reserves. The latter determines how much of the world’s oil is classed as proven reserves. And so today, the world’s proven reserves of oil are somewhat higher than they were in 1980, with America sitting on a large percentage of the total. Who would have believed it, back in the gloomy late Seventies? Ronald Reagan, maybe. But not Jimmy Carter—he’d have scoffed at the idea! That tells you all you need to know about the former president and the elites who backed his play.

Posted by tmg110 at 11:34 AM EDT
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