Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Understanding (And Misunderstanding) Capitalism

The latest from Williamson the Great.

"The aggregate effect of competitive capitalism is indistinguishable from magic, but we are so used to its bounty that we never stop to notice that no king of old ever enjoyed quarters so comfortable as those found in a Holiday Inn Express, that Andrew Carnegie never had a car as good as a Honda Civic, that Akhenaten never enjoyed such wealth as is found in a Walmart Supercenter. The irony is that capitalism has achieved through choice and cooperation what the old reds thought they were going to do with bayonets and gulags: It has recruited the most powerful and significant parts of the world’s capital structure into the service of ordinary people. And it would do so to an even greater degree if self-interested politicians in places such as India and China (and New York and California and D.C.) would get out of the way.
The difference between market and state — between the world of choice and the world of command — is that whether you’re an In-N-Out aficionado or a Shake Shack man, nobody is going to put a gun to your head and tell you that you can’t have it your way. To paraphrase that great national embarrassment: If you like your burger, you can keep your burger."

On a related topic, another recent offering from King Kevin --

"(Katrina) Forrester has no patience for the “unbridled individualism of the market economist,” just as John Nichols, also writing in The Nation, laments “unfettered capitalism,” a favorite phrase among so-called liberals (Chris Hedges invokes it in The Death of the Liberal Class). Which brings us back to a linguistic question: What is the opposite of “unbridled”? What is the opposite of “unfettered”? Excising the negative prefixes and considering the implications is a much more illuminating argument that “liberalism,” as we perversely call it, “doesn’t start with liberty” than anything one might read in The Nation lately."

As with all of Williamson's columns, excerpts don't do them justice - they should be read in their entirety to appreciate their full impact.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Death Of Single Payer

...in Vermont, of all places. Try finding this story in The New York Times, or on NBC, PBS, NPR, CNN, ABC or CBS.

From an editorial in The Wall Street Journal --

Believe it or not, there really are liberals disappointed that ObamaCare does not involve more taxation and central planning of medicine. So be grateful for the state laboratories of federalism and in particular Vermont, where the purest progressive version of ObamaCare has imploded.

Last week, in a reversal that deserves more attention, Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin announced that Vermont would no longer create America’s first statewide single-payer health system. Vermont was seeking a waiver from the Affordable Care Act to abolish what’s left of the nominally private insurance market by 2017, but Mr. Shumlin’s budget gremlins concluded the plan was too expensive and would damage the state economy.


This surrender is all the more remarkable because the Green Mountain People’s Republic is the ideal socialist laboratory. Beyond the Democratic supermajorities in the legislature, Vermont’s small size and population make regulation easier to impose. There are only 14 hospitals, and providers are already divided into nonoverlapping “service areas” meant to reduce competition. The nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont controls 80% of the commercial insurance market.

Then again, maybe Vermonters are smarter than their politicians. Republican Scott Milne ran for Governor against single payer this fall and lost by 2,095 votes. Had Mr. Shumlin disclosed the true costs before the election, he’d have been turned out.

More good news -- In the same WSJ issue (12/22), Bret Stephens extols American exceptionalism.

Imagine an economic historian in the year 2050 talking to her students about the most consequential innovations of the early 21st century—the Model Ts and Wright flyers and Penicillins of our time. What would make her list?

Surely fracking—shorthand for the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing that is making the U.S. the world’s leading oil and gas producer—would be noted. Surely social media—the bane of autocrats like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and of parents like me—would also get a mention. Mobile apps? Check. The emerging science of cancer immunotherapy? Hopefully, with fingers tightly crossed.

After drawing up this list, our historian would then observe that each innovation had “Made in USA” stamped all over it. How strange, she might say, that so many Americans of the day spent so much of their time bellyaching about the wretched state of their schools, the paralyzed nature of their politics, their mounting fiscal burdens and the predictions of impending decline.


...fracking happened in the U.S. because Americans, almost uniquely in the world, have property rights to the minerals under their yards. And because the federal government wasn’t really paying attention. And because federalism allows states to do their own thing. And because against-the-grain entrepreneurs like George Mitchell and Harold Hamm couldn’t be made to bow to the consensus of experts. And because our deep capital markets were willing to bet against those experts.

“When I talk to foreigners, they’re even more impressed than many Americans by this renaissance,” says my Journal colleague Gregory Zuckerman, author of “The Frackers.” “They understand that it only could have happened in America.”

Also singing the glories of fracking is an editorial writer in Investor's Business Daily, crediting the recent surge in economic growth to this revolutionary advancement in energy procurement.

What's generating the growth? A huge factor has been the fall in energy costs. As crude slid from $105 a barrel last summer to closer to $70 by September, the cost of oil imports tumbled. A decline in imports contributed 0.16 percentage point to GDP.

Moreover, as fuel costs fall, U.S. exports rise because U.S.-made goods become more cost competitive.
With prices lower now in this quarter, the good news story rolls on. Thank you, fracking.

Businesses are clearly feeling less fearful about investing, and some of the Obama anti-business, anti-shareholder agenda has dissipated as the Republican Congress repels the worst ideas — cap and trade, minimum-wage hikes, new energy taxes and massive new spending initiatives out of Washington.


The president, despite his executive branch power grabs, is mostly a lame duck, and that's what investors have been waiting for. Businesses and investors now believe less is more when it comes to Washington, where caps over the last three years have restrained spending. And for the most part, they're probably right.

This is a recovery the private sector is creating. And no, Mr. President, you didn't build that.

Best Of The Best

A recent poll of right of center blogs and websites rated 85 prominent conservatives. Here are the results.

In ascending order, the top 25 --

25) Rick Perry
25) Dana Loesch
25) Darrell Issa
25) Trey Gowdy
25) George W. Bush
24) Mark Levin
23) Dick Cheney
20) Tim Scott
20) James O’Keefe
20) Ben Carson
19) Ted Cruz
15) Allen West
15) The Koch Brothers
15) Jonah Goldberg
15) Matt Drudge
12) Glenn Reynolds
12) David Limbaugh
12) Megyn Kelly
11) Bobby Jindal
9) Rush Limbaugh
9) Condi Rice
5) Mark Steyn
5) Antonin Scalia
5) Michelle Malkin
5) Charles Krauthammer
4) Mia Love
1) Scott Walker
1) Clarence Thomas
1) Thomas Sowell

For the racialists keeping score, surprise! - seven of the twenty five are black, including three of the top four. (And I'm not counting Jindal who's Indian or Cruz whom the NY Times would characterize as a "white" Hispanic).

And the least admired conservatives (including some who aren't) --

20) Arnold Schwarzenegger
19) Ron Paul
17) Christine O’Donnell
17) Mike Huckabee
15) Mitch McConnell
15) David Frum
11) Donald Trump
11) Joe Scarborough
11) Colin Powell
11) Dick Morris
10) Bill O’Reilly
9) Peter King
8) Chris Christie
7) Jeb Bush
6) John Boehner
5) Alex Jones
4) Karl Rove
3) Lindsey Graham
2) John McCain
1) Megan McCain

The design of the poll isn't ideal. Instead of soliciting opinions about a pre-selected list of people, the pollsters should have asked the respondents to rank their top 25 and bottom 25 choices from the entire universe of conservatives. Why are lightweights Fred Thompson and Donald Trump on the list while John Bolton and Kevin Williamson are not?

My own list includes journalists, ranked not necessarily by the magnitude of my admiration for them but by my opinion of the quality of their writing. (In no particular order within tiers) --
Tier One -- Kevin Williamson, Krauthammer, Steyn, Goldberg.
Tier Two -- Victor Davis Hanson, Andrew McCarthy, Theodore Dalrymple, Bret Stephens, Dan Henninger, Dennis Prager, Steve Hayes, George Will, Jay Nordlinger, Charles C. W. Cooke, James Lileks, Rich Lowry, Deroy Murdock, Roger Kimball, Conrad Black.
Tier Three -- Sowell, Amity Schlaes, Larry Elder, Donald Boudreaux, Ann Coulter, Ed Morrissey, Allahpundit, Byron York, Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes, Guy Benson, Kate Pavlich, Roger Simon, John Podhoretz, Walter Williams, David Burge (Iowahawk), John Stossel, Mona Charen, Ramesh Ponnuru and Dorothy Rabinowitz (though her political columns are about as rare as a truthful word from the president).

Video producers par excellence - Bill Whittle and Andrew Klavan.

Politicians -- Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Gowdy (the C-Span superstar whose evisceration of Jonathan Gruber is a joy to watch), Walker (arguably the most effective conservative since Reagan), Jindal, Tom Coburn (soon to be retired), Jeb Bush (who was a popular and highly effective governor from a swing state and who is, contrary to his reputation in some quarters, a solid conservative - more so than his brother or father), and Perry (who was governor of the state that produced the vast majority of the nation's job growth during his tenure), stand out among the mostly decent bunch of Republicans in Congress and in governor's mansions. This includes McConnell and Boehner who have done well under difficult conditions.

And in the middle ground encompassing journalism and politics and SCOTUS -- Carson (though if he was serious about politics, he should have run for senator from Michigan, then maybe for president), John Bolton (prime candidate for Secretary of State in a Republican administration), Scalia, Thomas, Rudy Giuliani, Mitch Daniels, a trio of political analysts - Michael Barone (the undisputed king of pundits), Jay Cost, and Jim Geraghty, Mitt Romney (a wildly successful and profoundly admirable gentleman both inside and outside of politics), Cheney (a major irritant to people deserving to be irritated and the staunchest advocate of taking all measures necessary to protect the country), G. W. Bush (unlike the current president, a man of integrity who took the measures necessary to protect the country), and of course Sarah Palin, (unlike Hillary) a self-made woman, the scourge of the feminazi left, the ultimate anti-Julia.*

* (added 12/28) -- This from M. Joseph Sheppard, writer for Politico --

Governor Palin endorsed 22 candidates for various offices during the midterm finals, including senators, governors, lieutenant governors, congressmen, and attorneys general.  Of those so endorsed, an incredible 20 were elected – contrasted with, for example, Hillary Clinton's record of 8 wins out 24 endorsed candidates.

...For all her detractors’ cries of "irrelevance" and "she's just a reality show entertainer" (those two being among the nicer epithets), Palin goes on, election cycle after election cycle, populating Congress with her endorsed candidates in a cost-effective manner...

...After Russian president Putin invaded the Ukraine and annexed the Crimea, video surfaced of Governor Palin's 2008 speech where she predicted exactly that occurrence should then presidential candidate Barack Obama be elected. Palin sounded a deserved note of triumphalism in March:

"Yes, I could see this one from Alaska," Palin posted on Facebook, saying she said "told-ya-so" in the case of her "accurate prediction being derided as 'an extremely far-fetched scenario' by the 'high-brow' Foreign Policy magazine."

"Here’s what this 'stupid' 'insipid woman' predicted back in 2008," Palin said. "After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next."

Palin's post has been shared by more than 16,000 Facebook users and "liked" by more than 70,000.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fueling Our Growth

Repairing the damage done to the economy by the Obama administration's tax increases and regulatory impositions, the oil and gas industry is almost solely responsible for whatever growth we have experienced in recent years. The fifty cent drop in gas prices this year is equivalent to a $75 billion tax cut - a gift to the country from this much maligned industry. Today's Wall Street Journal features an interview with Mark Papa, one of the unsung heroes of the windfall. Papa, the former CEO of drilling company EOG resources, is an enthusiastic spokesman for fracking, the revolutionary, wealth producing technology that he helped develop.

“I can’t think of any other single event that has caused such a positive economic benefit to the nation as a whole as shale oil and shale gas.”

...“there’s been a million frack jobs performed in the U.S. with zero documented cases of damage to the drinking-water table. For my set of statistics, those are pretty good odds.”

...“It’s my belief that for likely the next 40 or 50 years, we’ll continue to be in a hydrocarbon-powered economy, the main drivers of which are natural gas and crude oil. . . . You have to rely on the logic of the American people and our legislators to say, look at the economic benefits. The benefits are so obvious that an objective person would question whether we want to impose punitive regulations that will diminish what’s accrued.”

...“If you want to point to a success of private enterprise, and how the capitalist system works for the benefit of the total U.S. economy,” he says, “I can’t come up with a more glowing example.”

Friday, December 5, 2014

Herman Badillo, R.I.P.

A long time ago when I was young and foolish and living in Brooklyn, New York, I supported Herman Badillo in his races for New York City mayor in 1969 and 1973. Ideologically, he wasn't much different from the other far left candidates he ran against, but he was soft spoken and seemed honest and sincere so I favored him. It turns out my instincts were right. Badillo became fed up with the Democratic Party and bolted to the GOP in 1998. He died Wednesday and in remembrance, the Wall Street Journal re-printed part of the op-ed he had written for the paper when he made the switch.

From the time I arrived in New York from Puerto Rico at age 11, I was brought up Democratic. And when I went into politics—as a U.S. congressman, Bronx borough president and deputy mayor—I did so as a Democrat. Last week, after more [than] 30 years in Democratic politics, I joined the Republican Party.
In recent years I have found myself questioning inflexible Democratic policies. I have seen a disturbing lack of vision among local Democratic leaders. As two New York Republicans—Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Rudy Giuliani—reinvented and revitalized government, Democratic leaders doggedly fought to preserve failed, anachronistic policies.
This inertia has been most evident in their approach to schools. In the City University system (of which I am vice chairman of the board of trustees), there are schools like Hostos Community College, where students not even fluent in English have been awarded degrees. And when I challenge the practice of social promotion in elementary and secondary schools and call for academic standards, prominent Democrats attack me.
This defense of low standards reflects a fundamental Democratic problem: Many Democrats believe that some ethnic groups, such as Hispanics, should not be held to the same standards as others. This is a repellent and destructive concept, a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Left's Toxic Rhetoric

Kevin Williamson (yes, again) commenting on the Ferguson situation, addresses the left's pathological and malicious habit of labeling policies it disagrees with as racist.

It is possible — barely possible — that this is in fact how the Left sees the world: That behind every criticism of affirmative action, behind every anti-crime measure, behind every proposal for welfare reform, behind every expression of capitalism, behind every measure taken against voter fraud, behind every criticism of the Ferguson lynch mob, a burning cross looms, men in white hoods await, and the lynching noose is being prepared. That view is borderline insane and contrary to the overwhelming evidence of contemporary American life as lived, but people hold all sorts of loopy views, so it is just within the boundaries of plausibility that people on the Left, so-called progressives, genuinely hold this view.

More likely, the spectral evidence of white supremacy in our modern Salem race trials is simply a rhetorical tool, a way for well-fed progressives to beat their critics into submission if one of them should happen to point out that progressive policies seem to produce reliably horrific results for people who are poor and, especially, poor and black.


...when former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani takes seriously the operative slogan of the Ferguson protests — “Black Lives Matter!” — and asks the obvious question — “Don’t they matter in the 93 percent of cases when the lives of black murder victims are taken violently by black criminals?” — the Left’s reflexive response is to denounce him as a racist.


The reality is this: Black men, especially young black men, die violent deaths at appalling rates in these United States. But they do not die very often at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, thugs reminiscent of characters from American History X, police officers of any race or motivation, lynch mobs, the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, Walmart, the Tea Party, Goldman Sachs, carbon dioxide, or any other bogeyman currently in vogue among so-called progressives. As Giuliani noted, blacks die violent deaths almost exclusively at the hands of black criminals. But attempting to accommodate that reality in any serious way does not pay any political dividends for the Left. It does not put any money in Jesse Jackson’s pockets or create any full-time jobs for graduates of grievance-studies programs.


CNN - "Let the rioting begin!" Flashed on oversized screens in every airport in the country. Just enough detail to make the bulletin inflammatory but not nearly enough to reveal the truth. --

Also - Noticed this funny item in a column about Hillary Clinton by Kurt Schlichter --

Keep in mind that this is a woman who flunked the District of Columbia bar exam. To do that, you literally have to answer the question, “What is a tort?” by drawing a picture of small cake.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Progressives Against Progress

In 2009, Democrats hoisted another trillion dollars of debt onto our descendants in a cynical attempt to "create" jobs. The so-called "stimulus" bill is what happens when politicians see a crisis as an opportunity to buy patronage with other people's money. The bill was not passed to spur economic activity and reduce unemployment and it certainly didn't. Barack Obama admitted as much with his Gruber-like mocking of the fools who bought into his "shovel-ready" sales pitch.

Both "public servants" and capitalists are motivated by their own self-interest. The former connive to separate property from its proper owners and use the proceeds to pay tribute to their (the politicians) benefactors. The latter seek profit-making opportunities by offering goods and services that people need and want, which in turn results in economic growth. Contra Hillary Clinton, the only job-creators are corporations and businesses. At best, government is a grateful bystander and at worst, a job destroyer. One of the most grating of campaign promises, made by Democrats and Republicans alike, is the commitment to create jobs. The only effective job-creating policy is to let free enterprise operate with a minimum of regulatory oversight. That way, jobs are created, and living standards improve, at no cost to taxpayers.

The Keystone Pipeline, (speaking of shovel ready), is a prime example of a privately funded, employment producing, economically and environmentally beneficial project that wouldn't cost us a dime. But it's opposed by the "green" lobby which pays for the election of Democrats. The result is the project gets shelved indefinitely, oil gets shipped by the far more environmentally hazardous rail car and oil tanker, and the Canadian government begins planning for an alternate pipeline, one that transverses its country, avoiding the U.S. altogether.

Opposing the beneficial and the successful is a defining characteristic of the left. Even an industry as mundane as retail has come under attack. Kevin Williamson's latest column examines the breathtaking hypocrisy of "social justice" warriors who protest Wal-Mart, an American corporation that has had an overwhelmingly positive global impact. Among its notable achievements has been making the poor less poor. Aside from providing employment for vast amounts of people - 1.3 million in the U.S. (almost 1% of all people employed in the country!) and 2.2 million worldwide, many of whom are not highly skilled or educated, it sells affordable necessities to low income customers.

It is remarkable that Wal-Mart, a company that makes a modest profit margin (typically between 3 percent and 3.5 percent) selling ordinary people ordinary goods at low prices, is the great hate totem for the well-heeled Left, whose best-known celebrity spokesclowns would not be caught so much as downwind from a Supercenter, while at the same time, nobody is out with placards and illiterate slogans and generally risible moral posturing in front of boutiques dealing in Rolex, Prada, Hermès, et al.


If economic “exploitation” means making “obscene profits” — an empty cliché if ever there were one — then Wal-Mart and the oil companies ought to be the good guys; not only do they have relatively low profit margins, but they also support millions of union workers and retirees through stock profits and the payment of dividends into pension funds. By way of comparison, consider that Hermès, the luxury-goods label that is a favorite of well-heeled social justice warriors of all sorts, makes a profit margin that is typically seven or eight times what Wal-Mart makes, even though, as rapper Lloyd Banks discovered, its $1,300 sneakers may not always be up to the task. If Wal-Mart is the epitome of evil for selling you a Timex at a 3 percent markup, then shouldn’t Rolex be extra-super evil?


A few weeks ago, I was very much amused by the sight of anti-Wal-Mart protests in Manhattan — where there is no Wal-Mart, and where, if Bill de Blasio et al. have their way, there never will be. Why? Because we’re too enlightened to let our poor neighbors pay lower prices. The head-clutchingly expensive shops up on Fifth and Madison avenues? No protests. Rather, they were bustling with the same class of people behind the protests, people busily accumulating — or at least making like Holly Golightly in the window at Tiffany’s.


Ironically, the anti-Wal-Mart crusaders want to make life worse for people who are literally counting pennies as they shop for necessities. Study after study has shown that Wal-Mart has meaningfully reduced prices: 3.1 percent overall, by one estimate — with a whopping 9.1 percent cut to the price of groceries. That comes to about $2,300 a year per household, savings that accrue overwhelmingly to people of modest incomes, not to celebrity activists and Ivy League social-justice crusaders.

Read it all here.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Builders And Destroyers

The advent of capitalism in the late eighteenth century launched an era of explosive wealth creation that continues to this day. Prior to this beneficent revolution, life was generally, as described by the seventeenth century philosopher Thomas Hobbes, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." The Capitalist Miracle was and continues to be responsible for a drastic decline in global poverty, particularly among those peoples who have embraced it as their governing economic principle. That all this is true is completely uncontroversial to any knowledgeable and thoughtful person not invested in corporatism and/or the expansion of the welfare state. Still open to debate, however, is how capitalism got started. Kevin Williamson offers some ideas on this. And he castigates those bent on destroying the glorious free enterprise architecture and replacing it with, what Churchill called, "...a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, (the) inherent virtue (of which) is the equal sharing of misery."

The division of labor is the essence of civilization, the underlying source of practically every good thing about the material conditions of the modern world. It is why civilized countries do not have famine any more, why we are surrounded by technological wonders, why things like air travel and mobile phones go from being restricted to millionaires to being ho-hum over a short course of years. Most of the technological ingredients for the Industrial Revolution had been in place not only in Britain but in Spain, France, Italy, etc., for years. But British subjects and American colonists had the opportunity and the inclination to begin a finer and more robust division of labor than did their European counterparts. They were just a little bit more free — and a little bit more determined to be free — and that little bit made an incalculable difference, not only to them, but to the world.
They built something remarkable. And the idiot children of the Left are today cheering those who would literally burn it down, in Ferguson and elsewhere.

I am generally inclined toward outbreaks of orneriness, whether in Nevada or in Missouri. If the people of Ferguson believe that they are misgoverned, that their police are a problem, that the usual forms of legal and political redress have failed them, then, by all means, shake the foundations. And there may have been about five minutes at the beginning when that’s what this was about. The crowd in Ferguson is now very little more than a lynch mob. Maybe I should be ashamed of it, but there’s a little part of my heart that would leap at the sight of Americans setting fire to a tax office. But setting fire to an Autozone? Pathetic.

There’s a famous meme that made the rounds during Occupy Wall Street, with a hippie-dirtbag protester labeled “Wants More Government” and menacing police in riot gear closing down on him labeled “More Government.” Those of us who want less government do not want only that: We want what flourishes when men are left free to pursue their own ends. The Left, on the other hand, takes every instance of unhappiness as an argument for more government — including bad government. Our founding fathers knew when to build, and when to fight. More importantly, they knew what to build, and what to fight.

Added November 28 -- Rich Lowry with more about our great good fortune.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mugged By Reality

It was the respected political commentator, the late Irving Kristol who made the observation that "A neo-conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality." This statement is true, but unfortunately, it does not follow that all liberals who have been mugged by reality have the intelligence and open-mindedness to become neo-conservatives. A case in point --

On November 14, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by a long time Democrat, Burke Beu.

I voted for President Obama again in 2012, then received a cancellation notice for my health insurance. This was due to ObamaCare, the so-called Affordable Care Act. However, I couldn’t afford anything else.

Beu goes on to say all sorts of bad things about Obamacare (And he throws in some invective about the failed 2009 economic "stimulus" bill as well. Exactly why did he vote for Obama in 2012?). Myopically, Beu attacks Obamacare from his vantage point on the left.

ObamaCare is a failure. For anyone who thinks this is a misprint because no Democratic activist would make such a comment, let me add that it is too big, too complicated and too expensive. Without a public option within its network of exchanges, ObamaCare is a giant blank check to the insurance companies that pushed it through Congress. It punishes responsible consumers like me and treats younger individuals as fools who are expected to pay the bills while not paying attention.

"public option..." The pathway to "single payer". (see below).


For most Democrats in Congress, Medicare was originally a model for health-care reform. Single-payer, universal coverage was the favored approach. Then Republicans let loose the “socialized medicine” boogeyman and Democrats panicked.

"Single-payer, universal coverage..." That doesn't describe Medicare (why the need for multiple payers to "supplement" universality?). How ever you call it, Medicare is fiscally insolvent, a scammers delight, (tens of billions per year lost to fraud) and the bane of doctors and providers who increasingly are refusing to accept its below market payments.
The fully contained, socialized, universal health care system of Mr. Beu's fantasies would be based on the VA model. Ah yes. That's the fix we need.
Monopolies are bad. Government monopolies are much worse.

Fearful that doing nothing was worse than doing the wrong thing, Democrats gave up on Medicare for the masses and opted for a drastic alternative. ObamaCare is an outrageous combination of private-market inflation, government bureaucracy, excessive mandates and a ridiculously delayed implementation schedule. When the thing finally kicked in, it hit hard—and there is plenty more pain on the way.

"Excessive mandates..." Definition - Mandates that force Burke Beu to purchase that which he doesn't need and/or can't afford.


We Democrats need to get over ourselves, start anew on a national health-care policy, and return to our progressive principles. We claim to be the party of the underdogs, but on ObamaCare we simply catered to a different set of fat cats.

As Jonah Goldberg might say, these views are like a piñata, yielding rewards whenever they're hit. Today's WSJ posted three letters from writers taking swings.

Robert M. Sussman --

My only response to Burke Beu’s "This Democrat Is Giving Up On Obamacare" (op-ed, Nov. 14) is to inquire where he has been for the last four years. From the start, the Affordable Care Act was poorly written and conceived and not supported by Republicans, who saw through the lies made by the Obama administration.
...The point is it’s been obvious for years that the law is a failure and needs to be completely redrafted. The fact that Mr. Beu just realized these things means he is part of the problem, not the solution. Unless voters deal with reality rather than clinging to their ideological beliefs, more bad laws will remain in place well beyond their time.

David Gayvert --

What Mr. Beu fails to see is that “progressive principles” will always, everywhere produce failure because they are based on a flawed premise: that human nature is infinitely malleable, and only in need of the “right” policy, program or enlightened leadership to lead it to perfection. Thus, even while acknowledging ObamaCare’s increasingly manifest failures—perhaps because this time, the policy in question impacted him personally—Mr. Beu cannot allow his abiding faith in Democrats’ ability to design and effect the ideal society to be shaken. Pity—plenty more epiphanies await.

Matthew Thompson --

For whom does Jonathan Gruber’s “too stupid” bell toll, Mr. Beu? It tolls for thee.
My thanks to the editors for publishing Mr. Beu’s pitiable lament. Nothing gives me quite so much pleasure as a “progressive” hoist on his own petard.

For the record, let me state that I absolutely reject the mean spirited Schadenfreude expressed by Mr. Thompson.
(hee hee hee hee)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

KW On Language And Politics

Another video, this one featuring Kevin Williamson. KW is a (self-described) radical libertarian from Lubbock who shatters the Mary Cooper* stereotype of a right wing Texan; that is, fundamentalist Christian, provincial, intolerant, credulous, ignorant, racist. Rather, Williamson is scientific, brilliant, learned, and worldly with eclectic interests. And, of course, as a libertarian, he's strongly anti-racist. One of Williamson's objectives is to get people to reconsider their assumptions about government and politics. You say you want a revolution - here it is.

It's apparent that Jonah Goldberg gets some of his libertarian ideas from Williamson. KW returns the favor, mentioning Goldberg's book in his talk. (Note that Williamson doesn't actually begin speaking until around the 14:00 minute mark).

*Sheldon Cooper's mom in The Big Bang Theory. In manner and intellect, Williamson seems much more like Sheldon (without the Asperger traits) than Mary. 
Williamson writes about his mother in his latest column. The main gist of the column however is best described by its title, Small Man in a Big Office.

In an elected official, patriotism means, among other things, elevating the interests of the country above the interests of party and career. President Obama has failed to do that, seems personally incapable of doing that, and in fact has done the opposite. He might be reminded, at the very least, that his presidential duty is to the citizens of the United States, not to citizens of other countries, regardless of where they happen to be located at any given moment. But the very idea of taking that seriously seems foreign to him.
We already knew that Barack Obama is a coward – a man who, to take one obvious example, pronounced himself opposed to gay marriage right up until the millisecond that political calculation demanded he do otherwise, and who now believes that it is mandated by the Constitution. His putting off his amnesty announcement until after the election – and his dishonest refusal to acknowledge that it is an amnesty – is another example. We already knew that he is a liar (“If you like your coverage . . . ”) and have some reason to suspect that he is a fool. But the fundamental problem is that he is a lawyer, one without the intellectual or moral equipment to be anything more than a litigator of the picayune. For President Obama and his enablers, the law is a species of magic: He is entitled to do whatever he pleases, even when it plainly violates both the national interest and our longstanding habits of government, if he can simply think of a way to say the right words in the right order as he acts. That isn’t governance – that’s alchemical hokum, transforming the dross of Democratic political ambition into pure gold.

Other recent KW columns.

Swearing in Latin at his favorite target, the IRS.

On the morality of assisted suicide. Williamson does not shirk from tackling difficult moral issues as he did here with rape and abortion.

Capitalism and the environment.

Justice Ginsburg and the eugenics instinct of the left.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

More JG (Writing This Time)

From Jonah Goldberg's latest G-file on NRO.

On Barack Obama's unconstitutional immigration order --

"Placating Obama’s wishes (For Congress to enact legislation codifying his executive order) doesn’t erase his lawless deed, it establishes a precedent for a new presidential power of lawless action. It’s against the law for me to steal your car. If I do it anyway and then say, “Look, all you have to do to nullify my lawless action is sign over the title to me, that way it will all be nice and proper” does that really make it all better?

... the story of the progressive movement can best be understood as activists going wherever the field is open. If the people are on your side, expand democracy. If the people are against you, use the courts. If the courts are against you, run down the field with the bureaucrats, or the Congress, or the presidency. Procedural niceties — the filibuster, precedent, the law, custom, the Constitution, truth — only matter if they can be enlisted to advance the cause. If they can’t, they suddenly become outdated, irrelevant, vestigial organs of racism, elitism, sexism, whatever. Obstruction, or even inconvenience in the path of progressive ends is prima facie proof of illegitimacy. The river of history must carry forward. If History hits a rock, the rock must be swept up with the current or be circumvented. Nothing can hold back the Hegelian tide, no one may Stand Athwart History. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. This is the liberal gleichschaltung; get with the program or be flattened by it.

Barack Obama’s leapfrog over the Constitution is perfectly consistent with Woodrow Wilson’s hatred of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. It is of a piece with FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights.” It is the latest chapter in the progressive cult of History in which they — and only they — know what the universe requires and no mortal authority, and certainly not any old piece of paper, can stand in the way. Why? Because History is their co-pilot."

On Grubergate --

"... Here’s Chuck Todd explaining a near blackout of Gruber coverage in the MSM. “I’m not saying it’s not a story. Look, I’m not in charge of any of those network newscasts. But what is the news today of that? It’s a political story.”

I’m a fan of Chuck’s but good lord this is absurd. First, all Todd does is cover “political stories.” I haven’t seen every one of his stints at the helm of Meet the Press, but I feel I would have heard if Meet the Press had become a cooking show on his watch.

Moreover, the news is huge. An indispensable architect of this trillion dollar monstrosity of a law has been exposed as not only a deliberate liar, but as one who stood to make millions off the law without disclosing his role as a paid consultant. People love to say that Bush lied us into war, but to date no evidence of deliberate lies has ever surfaced. Yes, false statements have come to light, but those statements were believed to be true at the time. They were corroborated by the U.N., the French intelligence service, and countless leading Democrats — such as Bill Clinton — and Hillary Clinton, who voted for the war. It’s awful and scandalous that we got so much wrong, but there were no deliberate lies in a regrettable rush to war.

You can’t say anything of the sort about Obamacare, which, as I argued in my column yesterday, was sold with lies, deception, and partisan brute force from Day One. And yet, if video of Paul Wolfowitz or Don Rumsfeld admitting that they lied or had secret financial interests in the war came out tomorrow, I cannot imagine Chuck Todd could say, “What’s the news of that now?”

The reason Gruber has been so outrageously under-covered by the mainstream media is obvious: The whole story is an indictment of the entire ecosystem of establishment liberalism, from the supposedly “explanatory journalists” who picked sides from the beginning, to the academic elites who serve as willing mercenaries for the Democratic party (while pretending to be unimpeachably objective followers of the facts) to the press corps that carries water for the whole enterprise. Grüberdammerung runs against the narrative that only lovers of limited government are driven by self-interest and greed. It gives the average person a glimpse into how the sausage is made and embarrasses the sausage makers."

Obama's reaction to the latest ISIS beheading (Obama uses the alternative acronym, ISIL, so that he can avoid reminding "folks" of his disastrous "Syria" policy - the 2nd S in ISIS) --

"... my jaw dropped when I heard Obama’s reaction to the beheading of Peter Kassig.

“ISIL’s actions represent no faith,” Obama said, “least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own.”

Abdul-Rahman was Kassig’s Muslim name, which he adopted only while being held captive by Islamists. Perhaps the conversion was sincere, though I suspect Kassig did it to stay alive and certainly under duress and I can begrudge him it. Either way, there’s something disgusting about using Kassig’s Muslim name in order to score a propaganda point.

It’s even worse when that propaganda point is so incandescently stupid.

As Mona (Charen) notes ...no one except Barack Obama thinks it’s a revelation that the Islamic State kills Muslims. No Kurd, no Shia, no moderate Sunni stays in his home when the Islamic State is at the gates, and says “Hey, we’re Muslim and Muslims don’t kill Muslims. We’ve got nothing to worry about.”

But it’s the phrase “least of all the Muslim faith” that is truly infuriating. Least of all? Really? So other faiths are more implicated in this atrocity than Islam? Which ones? Does he really mean to be suggesting that while the Islamic State’s actions “represent no faith,” if we have to assign blame, Islam is the least culpable? Could a team of rhetoricians, theologians and logicians working around the clock in some Andromeda Strain bunker beneath the Nevada desert come up with an argument that puts even a scintilla more blame at the feet of, say, the Lutherans or Quakers? On the one hand we have a bunch of dudes who shout “Allāhu Akbar!”, memorize the Koran, and rape and murder in the name of the Islamic State. On the other hand, we have a grab bag of Buddhists, Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, and Southern Baptists. And the one faith least implicated here is Islam? Really. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills."

Goldberg references a couple of recent TV appearances where he talks about Gruber specifically and corrupt left wing corporatism in general. The links are here and here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More JG Video

A few days ago I cited an entertaining talk by Jonah Goldberg. Well, here's a better one. Most of the jokes and many of the points are the same but here he focuses more on his most recent book, The Tyranny Of Cliches. Funny, inspiring and for the uninitiated, informative. Not that anyone should care, but this is why I'm a conservative.


And if you think Goldberg is joking...

Does Michelle know about this?

Monday, November 17, 2014

More Gruber, The Election, Etc.

Barack Obama on Jonathan Gruber -- The fact that an adviser who was never on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is not a reflection on the actual process that was run.
No, he wasn't on the staff. He was outsourced - a well paid, overpaid, contractor. As John Fund points out -- Gruber visited the White House nearly twenty times, according to official visitor logs. The White House actively promoted his work on Obamacare and touted his testimony to Senate committees as "objective analysis."

It's remarkable that a World Class Narcissist like Obama has so little self-awareness. He claims to reject Gruber's disdain for voters, his distortions and obfuscations. What about his (Obama's) own blatant lies? Do they reflect an abiding respect for voters? Does he ever listen to himself?

BHO, 7/18/2009 -- Under our proposals, if you like your doctor, you keep your doctor. If you like your current insurance, you keep that insurance. Period, end of story. (...And that's for darn sure).

Well that was before the law was finalized and passed by Congress, right? How about a more recent, more informed statement.

BHO, 9/23/2013 -- Now, let’s start with the fact that even before the Affordable Care Act fully takes effect, about 85 percent of Americans already have health insurance — either through their job, or through Medicare, or through the individual market. So if you’re one of these folks, it’s reasonable that you might worry whether health care reform is going to create changes that are a problem for you — especially when you’re bombarded with all sorts of fear-mongering. So the first thing you need to know is this: If you already have health care, you don’t have to do anything.

That reactionary right wing network NBC reported that, ...the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.

"I completely disagree with (Gruber) in terms of the voters". Really? A Politifact compilation details 37 instances of Obama disseminating his lie, demonstrating that he wholly agrees with Gruber's assessment of the voters.

Nancy Pelosi is trying to remain competitive with Obama for the title of Most Dishonest Politician --

November 13, 2014 --
I don’t know who (Jonathan Gruber) is...
November 5, 2009 --
I don't know if you have seen Jonathan Gruber of MIT's analysis...

Fox News has the video evidence followed by Steve Hayes' comments. Hayes hits the MSM once again for media bias. It is mind numbingly repetitious but absolutely necessary to point out when it happens.

The Gruber embarrassment has Democrats contorting themselves into unsustainable postures. For sheer silliness, this one takes the cake. (John Fund again) --

A Pelosi spokesperson, Drew Hammill, told the Washington Post that “(Pelosi) said she doesn’t ‘know who he is,’ not that she’s never heard of him".

Ed Morrissey (Hot Air) --

Let’s not forget that when Gruber calls voters stupid, it can’t be applied to those who opposed ObamaCare on the very same grounds as he states in these videos. Critics had made these arguments all along about the deceptive structure of the bill, and the lies being told to cover it up. Gruber’s talking about the Obama coalition in these remarks. (My emphasis).

It's ironic but true that Gruber's insults target Obamacare supporters. As well they should. Leftists leave critical thinking at the door when it comes to politics and policy. Unfortunately they are not alone in their susceptibility to manipulation by smooth talking con artists. Think back to the whole "hope and change" mishegoss which was breathtaking in the scale of its dishonesty and deceptiveness. Post-partisan, Post-racial, Pragmatic, Conciliatory, Non-ideological, Transparent, Fiscally Responsible, Follower of the Constitution and the Rule of Law - everything Obama is not. These are just some of the descriptors tossed around by Obama and his campaign entourage, selling him to those gullible enough to believe he was something other than a far left-wing Alinskyite willing to do anything he could get away with to advance his radical agenda. Among the deceived were nominally conservative - David Brooks, Peggy Noonan, Christopher Buckley and others. Buckley, whose novel Thank You For Smoking mercilessly parodied the public relations industry, fell for the biggest and most obvious PR scam ever perpetrated - Obamaism. It is these impressionable "moderates" who share much of the blame for our current predicament.

For two reasons I'm pleased that we're finally past the midterm election season. First and foremost, the results were quite satisfactory. The only real disappointment was Scott Brown's loss in New Hampshire. Otherwise, Republicans swept all the races they could have and then some. The most significant achievement was, of course, the wrenching of power out of Harry Reid's cold, dead hands. Reid's deplorable anti-Koch brothers strategy failed spectacularly. The Senate can now resume its intended function - deliberating legislation and passing budgets. It will now become an ally of the House in investigating the Obama administration's many scandals. And, importantly, it will put a halt to the flooding of federal courts with Obama's uber-left nominees for judgeships. Each of the nine Senate seats transferred from the Democrats to the Republicans was a cause for celebration. (Soon to be ten following the Louisiana runoff election. This despite yet another one of Reid's cynical political ploys - allowing a vote on Dem candidate Mary Landrieu's Keystone pipeline proposal, after preventing such a vote for eight years). One enjoyable result wasn't a transfer but a hold. In Kentucky, it was predicted early on that Mitch McConnell's seat was in peril. His opponent was Alison Lundergan Grimes and she managed to provide the defining moment of the entire election season. Asked if she voted for Obama for president, Grimes refused to answer. She couldn't have rejected her party's leader more emphatically had she shouted, "I Hate Obama!" Her evasiveness clinched her defeat. McConnell thumped her by 16 points and now he'll be the new Senate Majority Leader.

Topping the list of favorable results in govenor's races was the expected, but still pleasing rout of the NY Times' favorite candidate, Wendy Davis in Texas. Scott Walker's win (Wisconsin) and Charlie Crist's defeat (Florida) were especially gratifying and gubernatorial wins in Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts are great gobs of icing on the cake. After the 2012 election, Democrats thought they were on the cusp of building a permanent national majority. Now Republicans have comfortable majorities in both houses of Congress and at the state level Democrats are practically an afterthought. The presidency is the only current success story for the Democrats and this is due in part to gimmickry - many people wanted to vote for the first black president. In two years they'll want to vote for the first woman president. How about a campaign slogan of I Love Mia in 2016?

Second, we now get a brief respite (a few months, at least) from the incessant political ads broadcast on TV and delivered in the mail. That this asinine propaganda actually sways voters - and it surely must or billions wouldn't be spent on it - gives credence to the Gruber, Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Dunham, and Mencken view of the American public. On the other hand, Democrats outraised and outspent Republicans and look at the results. Reason for hope.

A couple of other random observations --

Among the multitude of sins committed by the treasonous Edward Snowden was his release of the names of CIA recruits in Pakistan, a gift to violent, war waging jihadists. Naturally, this qualified Snowden for consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize. Too bad he didn't get it. Imagine the absurdist scenario of having one ludicrously awarded NPP winner, Snowden, on the lam trying to escape the prosecutorial clutches of another ludicrously awarded NPP winner, Barack Obama.

Consumer Reports 2015 Buying Guide recommends what to skip when buying a smart phone -- "Phone insurance and extended warranties, which are not worth it when you weigh the cost, high deductibles and low chance of using them."
Sounds like health insurance for the young and healthy under Obamacare. At least with phone insurance, there's no penalty for doing without.

Finally from the I Want To Be Clear Department, in Bret Stephens' weekly WSJ column --

While Ms. Psaki and other administration mouthpieces are at it, they might also explain how last week’s news that the Pentagon will send another 1,500 “military advisers” to Iraq honors Mr. Obama’s pledge from September, when he said, “I want to be clear: The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.”
Yet the Apache pilots and their crews emphatically do have a “combat mission” when they fly out of Baghdad airport to keep ISIS from storming the city, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced in September that U.S. military forces deployed to Iraq will get combat pay.
One wonders what rhetorical legerdemain the administration will use to explain what those pilots are doing there. Demonstrating the principles of aeronautics? Teaching kinetics?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Must-Watch Video

I recently came across on YouTube, a talk given by Jonah Goldberg in Cleveland, Ohio in June of this year. The performance is typical Goldberg - cheerful and funny and filled with wise and witty observations. Much of what he says is familiar to conservatives but is well worth hearing just for the lively, coherent and entertaining delivery. As for non-conservatives, including leftists and the politically indifferent - I'm not overly hopeful, but if anyone could disabuse the general public of the myths and misinformation about conservatism, correct the benign reputation of (misnamed) liberalism - (Goldberg's book, Liberal Fascism, does a good job with that), and even convert a few of the misguided, it is Happy Warrior Jonah. During the talk, he's particularly good speaking about the left wing's darling du jour, Thomas Piketty, mincing no words in calling him "evil". And he gives a brief dissertation on the Capitalist Miracle, the world's greatest blessing that no one is aware of.


In his talk, Goldberg mentions his lengthy review of Piketty's book, Capital In The 21st Century. Here's the link to the review.

Also a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Phil Gramm and Michael Solon that more concisely picks apart Picketty's thesis.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vote Or Die

Charles C. W. Cooke presents an excellent counter-argument to the populist view that low voter participation is indicative of a national malaise. Or it would be a counter-argument if there was an argument to counter. Proponents merely presume universal voting to be an unalloyed good. The British Guardian had this to say about the midterm election -- "The low voter turnout on Election Day last week in the United States was an international disgrace."

Cooke disagrees.

Pace Lyndon Johnson, who posited famously that “a man without a vote is a man without protection,” I remain as free as a non-citizen as any man who is able to choose his representatives. Like others, I may speak in sharp and harsh terms without interference or censure from the state — and I do. I may own firearms for my defense and carry them with me should I so wish — and I do. I may expect to secure my person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures — and I do. With no meaningful exceptions, I enjoy equal protection under the law and the right to due process should I be accused of having violated that law. Given how hard it would be to repeal these safeguards, it seems fair for me to conclude that I may do these things not primarily because others vote to permit me to, but because the questions have been deliberately set outside of the standard democratic process and engraved deep into the highest law in the land: the Constitution.


The United States was established on the principle that just power is derived from the consent of the governed. Can an unwillingness to involve oneself in public affairs not be interpreted as a sign of contentment with the status quo — qui tacet consentire, and all that — or, at least, as an indication that one is happy to watch from afar as things play out? Is it not virtuous, too, for Americans who have no interest in matters political to stay away from the realm?

There's much more. Read it all here.

The Party pushing for universal voter participation is, of course, the Democrats. Take (Please!) Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for instance. (Sanders is technically an Independent, but proclaims himself a Socialist, making him a Democrat who is honest about his convictions. Barack Obama's Senate voting record was to the left of that of Sanders'). Sanders wants to make Election Day a national holiday to encourage more people to vote - people he assumes will be more likely to favor leftist policy. Unfortunately for him, this proposal, if implemented, is sure to backfire, as this Election Day Facebook post makes clear...

That prediction proved to be correct.

Democrats are also at the forefront of efforts to enfranchise felons, illegal aliens and other unqualified groups and to block voter ID laws intended to prevent voter fraud. This strategy has, at times, proven successful, most recently in the 2014 Virginia Senate race as votes from several thousand foreign nationals helped give incumbent Mark Warner his razor thin victory over challenger Ed Gillespie.
Democrats go so far as to dismiss the significance of elections with low voter turnout. At least, those they lose, like last week's. Clairvoyance being one of the superhuman powers he believes himself to possess, Obama had this to say following Tuesday's shellacking, "To everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you," the president said. "To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too."
Then listen up, Barry.

Democratic operatives are not the only ones pushing for more voters. The incessant naggers from the "Rock The Vote" crowd are among those pretending political neutrality. And from those with no such pretensions, (Lena Dunham, et al.), the disinterested and uninformed receive assurances that filling out a ballot will result in enhanced self-esteem.

Paradoxically, Democrats have no respect for the electorate they ostensibly champion. This was demonstrated recently by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber's revealing comments concerning the deceptions utilized to confuse and mislead the American public during the campaign to pass the law.

This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure (the Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. OK? So it's written to do that. (Mr. Smart Guy Gruber means it's written not to do that). In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in -- you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money -- it would not have passed. ... Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically, that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass. ... Look, I wish (health economist) Mark (Pauly) was right (that) we could make it all transparent, but I'd rather have this law than not.

David Limbaugh responds with an appropriate degree of outrage --

This is the stuff of outright tyrants -- arrogant, unaccountable, cavalier despots. This is political fascism. This is not representative government. This type of behavior nullifies the Constitution and disenfranchises the American people.

But, (as Ian Tuttle points out in an NRO column), Gruber's disdain for the electorate is far from an isolated sentiment among Democrats. Indeed, it's their faith in the irredeemable stupidity of the American electorate that inspires their efforts to expand it. A growing electorate becomes (collectively) less engaged in current affairs, less informed, and more susceptible to manipulation by enthusiastic obfuscators like Jonathan Gruber. And outright liars like Barack Obama.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Death Of Julia

Kevin Williamson (NRO) --

"A funny thing happened in the “war on women” — Mia Love and Joni Ernst won, Wendy Davis and Sandra Fluke lost. The representative who will be the youngest woman ever to have served in Congress, Elise Stefanik, is a Republican who won a formerly Democratic seat — not in Oklahoma or Texas but in New York. Senator-elect Ernst is a 21-year veteran of the Army Reserve and National Guard who served overseas during the Iraq war; Representative-elect Love, a daughter of Haitian immigrants who came to the United States fleeing the Tonton Macoutes, is a former city councilman and mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah.

The difference could not be more dramatic: The Democrats’ vision of an American woman’s life was best expressed in the Obama campaign’s insipid “Julia” cartoons, in which a faceless, featureless woman at every crossroads in her life turns to the federal government, as personified by Barack Obama, for succor and support. From negotiating a salary to managing her pregnancy, Julia cannot do anything for herself — at every turn, she is reminded that she enjoys political patronage “under President Obama,” in the campaign’s psychosexually fraught and insistently reiterated phrase. So much for the Democrats. And the Republican women of 2014? They helped fight wars and made new lives for themselves on foreign shores. They were women who ran for office on policy platforms, not on their uteruses."
"Who do Americans want to be when they grow up? Do women aspire to a life like Julia’s, or to one more like that of Lieutenant Colonel Joni Ernst? Would you rather be a sanctimonious sack of woe, like Wendy Davis, or a happy warrior, like Mia Love? Would you rather vote for a party that speaks to you as a citizen, family member, entrepreneur, taxpayer, etc. — or one that insists you owe it not only your vote but your obedience simply because you have a certain configuration of chromosomes or a certain surname?
It is one of life’s little ironies that it is the feminists and the party of so-called women’s issues who in the 21st century still have not quite figured out that women are individuals, and that there is more to them than the sum of their parts."

Monday, November 3, 2014

Growing The Wealth of Nations

It is gratifying that despite the considerable obstacles to growth and prosperity erected by global leftism, standards of living continue to improve thanks to free-market capitalism. Douglas Irwin in today's Wall Street Journal:

"The World Bank reported on Oct. 9 that the share of the world population living in extreme poverty had fallen to 15% in 2011 from 36% in 1990. Earlier this year, the International Labor Office reported that the number of workers in the world earning less than $1.25 a day has fallen to 375 million 2013 from 811 million in 1991.
Such stunning news seems to have escaped public notice, but it means something extraordinary: The past 25 years have witnessed the greatest reduction in global poverty in the history of the world.
To what should this be attributed? Official organizations noting the trend have tended to waffle, but let’s be blunt: The credit goes to the spread of capitalism. Over the past few decades, developing countries have embraced economic-policy reforms that have cleared the way for private enterprise."


"The reduction in world poverty has attracted little attention because it runs against the narrative pushed by those hostile to capitalism. The Michael Moores of the world portray capitalism as a degrading system in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Yet thanks to growth in the developing world, world-wide income inequality—measured across countries and individual people—is falling, not rising, as Branco Milanovic of City University of New York and other researchers have shown.
College students and other young Americans are often confronted with a picture of global capitalism as something that resembles the “dark satanic mills” invoked by William Blake in “Jerusalem,” not a potential escape from horrendous rural poverty. Young Americans ages 18-29 have a positive view of socialism and a negative view of capitalism, according to a 2011 Pew Research poll. About half of American millennials view socialism favorably, compared with 13% of Americans age 65 and older.
Capitalism’s bad rap grew out of a false analogy that linked the term with “exploitation.” Marxists thought the old economic system in which landlords exploited peasants (feudalism) was being replaced by a new economic system in which capital owners exploited industrial workers (capitalism). But Adam Smith had earlier provided a more accurate description of the economy: a “commercial society.” The poorest parts of the world are precisely those that are cut off from the world of markets and commerce, often because of government policies.
Some 260 years ago, Smith noted that: “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.” Very few countries fulfill these simple requirements, but the number has been growing. The result is a dramatic improvement in human well-being around the world, an outcome that is cause for celebration."


Monday, October 13, 2014

Unlike Any Other, Thankfully

Kevin Williamson, prompted by comments from actress Eva Longoria, muses about the Left's reflexive assumption that American Exceptionalism is a bad thing.

"The actress and Democratic activist Eva Longoria, who apparently has never heard of France, was ruthlessly mocked this week for her claim that the United States “is the only country that promotes monolingualism.” Both of the assumptions behind that statement are false: The United States does not promote monolingualism, and some other countries, and would-be countries such as Quebec, do. Ms. Longoria is a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, where state standards at the time of her high-school education generally required two years of the same foreign language, and where neither the University of Texas nor Texas A&M, which Ms. Longoria attended, will admit students without two years of the same foreign language. Ms. Longoria currently is a resident of California, a state in which official business is conducted in more than 30 languages. As for other countries, suffice it to say that neither China nor Mexico is offering driver’s-license exams in Farsi. Spain has one language with national official status — guess which."


"So, another dopey celebrity heard from — who cares?

Ms. Longoria’s error is interesting to me because it is an example of anti-American Exceptionalism, i.e. the common belief among progressives that the United States is uniquely backward and knuckle-dragging in various critical ways."


"The entire American political model is based on codifying policies that were in effect practically nowhere else in the world in the late 18th century. The supposition that people could get along without a king or a state-run church or a national censor, that they could choose their own faiths, speak their own minds, print their own newspapers, carry their own guns, and choose their own leaders without oversight from a hereditary aristocracy — at the time of the American founding, those ideas were considered more or less bonkers in most of the civilized world.
That’s a real fault line between conservatives and progressives: The Right tends to see those policies and institutions unique to the United States as markers of our liberty and excellence, while the Left sees policies and institutions unique to the United States as indicators that we are simply a few rungs on the evolutionary ladder behind Finland. It’s American Exceptionalism vs. anti-American Exceptionalism, and the latter tendency is by no means limited to such lightly informed Democratic emissaries as Eva Longoria."


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Obama's Only Thing

To paraphrase former UCLA football coach Henry Russell Sanders, (the quote later made famous by Vince Lombardi) - For Barack Obama, politics isn't the most important thing, it's the only thing.

From Jonah Goldberg's weekly G-File column on National Review Online --

"One can debate almost every foreign-policy decision Obama has made with regard to the merits, but if you take a step back it becomes clear that the real driver of Obama’s decisions is Beltway chatter and the domestic politics that feed it. And it’s not just on foreign policy. Whenever a scandal erupts, he says whatever words he has to make the media firestorm go away. And because the media doesn’t like to dwell on bad news for Obama, it usually works.

But here’s a different way to think about it. Let’s imagine that America’s national interest is completely disconnected from the domestic news cycle. It’s not a difficult thing to imagine, given that it is so often true. But let’s imagine that the disconnect is even more total. The press never covered the Islamic State. Never reported on the slaughter in Iraq and Syria. Never raised any concerns about what the rise of a terrorist army says about Obama’s foreign policy or our long-term interests in the region. The press focused instead on George Clooney’s wedding, events in Ferguson, Mo., and how awesome Lena Dunham is. Again, this isn’t a hugely difficult mental exercise.

In short, imagine the rise of the Islamic State over the summer presented all of the same national-security and humanitarian problems, but no political problems for Obama. Now ask yourself, would Obama have done anything about it?

Remember: The Islamic State took Fallujah and Mosul months ago and he kept calling it the “jayvee team.” As recently as August, he was telling Tom Friedman that it was ridiculous to arm the Syrian rebels. In September, he was wistfully complaining that the Islamic State made a mistake in beheading those Americans because it aroused U.S. public opinion for war. In other words, doing nothing about the Islamic State was Obama’s foreign policy until the domestic political situation made his foreign policy untenable. Chess Masters think many moves ahead, novices respond to whatever their opponent’s latest move is. Total amateurs just move pieces based on shouts from the crowd watching the game. Obama’s like a kid looking for approval every time he touches a piece.

And that’s why I have no confidence that Obama will stick with his war on the Islamic State one minute longer than the polls and political expediency require."


Friday, October 10, 2014

Conservatism - Protecting The Good

Today's "Notable and Quotable" feature in the Wall Street Journal.

From philosopher Roger Scruton’s new book “How to Be a Conservative”:

"Conservatism starts from a sentiment that all mature people can readily share: the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created. This is especially true of the good things that come to us as collective assets: peace, freedom, law, civility, public spirit, the security of property and family life, in all of which we depend on the cooperation of others while having no means singlehandedly to obtain it. In respect of such things, the work of destruction is quick, easy and exhilarating; the work of creation is slow, laborious and dull. That is one of the lessons of the twentieth century. It is also one reason why conservatives suffer such a disadvantage when it comes to public opinion. Their position is true but boring, that of their opponents exciting but false.

Because of this rhetorical disadvantage, conservatives often present their case in the language of mourning. Lamentations can sweep everything before them, like the Lamentations of Jeremiah, in just the way that the literature of revolution sweeps away the world of our frail achievements. And mourning is sometimes necessary; without ‘the work of mourning’, as Freud described it, the heart cannot move on from the thing that is lost to the thing that will replace it. Nevertheless, the case for conservatism does not have to be presented in elegiac accents. It is not about what we have lost, but about what we have retained, and how to hold onto it."

Friday, October 3, 2014

Obama Legacy: Inequality, Civilian Casualties, Losing Iraq

A trio of worthwhile items from today's Wall Street Journal editorial pages.

The Editors detail the results of Democrats' politically driven and counterproductive focus on "equality" as the basis of economic policy.

"One trick some liberals use to obscure the uniquely bad performance of the Obama years is to go back to the height of the dot-com bubble in 1999 when real income peaked at $56,895 and compare it to 2013. But this conveniently ignores that real median household income rebounded smartly in the middle of the last decade. That rebound occurred after the Bush tax cuts on capital income and marginal income-tax rates became law in 2003.

(snip) All of this is especially notable because it follows the most sustained policy focus on reducing inequality in decades. President Obama's stimulus spending in 2009-2010 was devoted mainly to transfer payments like Medicaid and jobless benefits. Expanding the number of Americans on food stamps and disability payments have been explicit policy goals. ObamaCare is designed to provide "free" health care to millions of Americans by taxing the wealthy and those who already have insurance.

Mr. Obama has also focused on income redistribution to punish the affluent while financing income transfers. So he cornered Republicans in the 2013 fiscal cliff and succeeded in raising the top income tax rate as well as levies on capital gains, dividends and small-business income.

On CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday Mr. Obama answered a question about economic anxiety by offering another increase in the minimum wage. But the Nancy Pelosi Democrats raised the minimum wage in three stages to $7.25 an hour in 2009 from $5.15 in 2007. If mandated wages are so beneficial to the American worker, where is the evidence?

The Census data show that every income group that was supposed to benefit from the higher wages is worse off than before the minimum wage was increased. This is because the benefits of mandated wage increases for some workers are dwarfed by the overall negative economic trends of slower growth and reduced opportunity."


Reality again intrudes upon Obama's naïve, ignorant, and foolish view of the world. Alan Dershowitz explains.

"Last year the Obama administration issued, with considerable fanfare, a new military policy designed to reduce civilian casualties when U.S. forces are attacking enemy targets. This policy required "near certainty" that there will be no civilian casualties before an air attack is permitted.

When Israel acted in self-defense this summer against Hamas rocket and tunnel attacks, the Obama administration criticized the Israeli army for "not doing enough" to reduce civilian casualties. When pressed about what more Israel could do—especially when Hamas fired its rockets and dug its terror tunnels in densely populated areas, deliberately using humans as shields—the Obama administration declined to provide specifics.

Now the Obama administration has exempted itself from its own "near certainty" standard in its attacks against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In a statement on Sept. 30 responding to questions by Michael Isikoff at Yahoo News, the administration said that in fighting Islamic State, also known as ISIS, the U.S. military can no longer comply with Mr. Obama's vow last year to observe "the highest standard we can meet."

The statement came after a Tomahawk missile last week struck the village Kafr Daryan in Syria, reportedly killing and injuring numerous civilians including children and women. The missile was directed at al Qaeda terrorists that the White House calls the Khorasan Group, but apparently the Tomahawk hit a home for displaced civilians. The Pentagon says it is investigating the incident, but YouTube video of injured children and the appearance by angry Free Syria Army rebel commanders at a congressional hearing about the attack—an attack that prompted protests in several Syrian villages—left little doubt about what happened.

If this sounds familiar, it is because in every attack on terrorists who operate from civilian areas, there will be civilian casualties. This is especially so when terrorists employ a policy of hiding behind civilian human shields in order to confront their enemies with a terrible choice: not attack a legitimate military target; or attack it and likely cause civilian casualties, which the terrorists can then exploit in the war of public opinion.

Hamas has employed this approach effectively in its periodic wars against Israel. Hamas fighters fire rockets at Israeli civilian targets from densely populated areas near United Nations facilities, mosques, hospitals and private homes. These areas, rather than the less densely populated open areas between the cities of Gaza, are intentionally selected. Hamas urges civilians to stand on the roofs of buildings that are used to store rockets and that serve as command-and-control shelters.

The fighters dare Israel to attack these shielded military targets. Israel responds by issuing warnings—by leaflets, telephone and noise bombs—to the civilians, urging them to leave. When civilians try to leave, Hamas fighters sometimes force them back at gunpoint. The fighters launch their missiles using a time delay, giving themselves the opportunity to hide in tunnels where only they are allowed to seek shelter; civilians are left exposed to Israel's efforts to destroy the rockets.

When Israel does attack military targets such as a rocket launcher or a tunnel entrance, and kills or injures civilians, Hamas operatives stand ready to exploit the dead for the international media, who are ever ready to show the victims without mentioning that they died because Hamas was using them as human shields.

Now ISIS and other jihadists in Iraq and Syria are beginning to emulate the Hamas strategy, embedding fighters in towns and villages, thus making military strikes difficult without risking civilian casualties. That is why the Obama administration has exempted itself from its theoretical "near certainty" policy, which has proved to be unworkable and unrealistic in actual battle conditions involving human shields and enemy fighters embedded in densely populated areas.

For the U.S., the fight against ISIS is a war of choice. Islamic State fighters pose no immediate and direct threat to the American homeland. For Israel, by contrast, Hamas poses an immediate and direct threat. Both the U.S. and Israel seek to minimize civilian casualties. Neither can do so under an unrealistic principle of "near certainty."

Israel has come closer to this high theoretical standard than have the United States and its various coalition partners—for instance, only Israel would employ small rooftop "knock-knock" explosives to warn civilians of a coming missile strike. Yet Israel is the only nation that is routinely condemned by the United Nations, the international community, the media, the academy and even the U.S. for "not doing enough," in Mr. Obama's words, to reduce civilian casualties. As the president is learning, war is hell. The possibility of waging it with "near certainty" of anything is a chimera."


Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta disputes his former boss on exactly how and why the U.S. abandoned Iraq to the terrorists.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Good Riddance

Victor Davis Hanson sums up the tenure of the execrable Attorney General Eric Holder.


(Added 9/30) -- VDH also nicely details the origins and outcome of the Iraq War and contrasts the actions taken by G.W. Bush and Barack Obama concerning the broader Middle East region.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Sublime And The Ridiculous

Kevin Williamson takes aim at Lena Dunham and her adherents, a target rich environment --

"A people mature enough to manage the relationship between procreative input and procreative output without recourse to the surgical dismemberment of living human organisms probably would not find much of interest in the work of Miss Dunham.

... It’s not for nothing that, on the precipice of 30, Miss Dunham is famous for a television series called Girls rather than one called Women. She might have gone one better and called it Thumbsuckers. (The more appropriate title Diapers would terrify her demographic.)

...Miss Dunham’s “all about me!” attitude toward the process of voting inevitably extends to the content of what she votes for, which is, in her telling, mostly about her sex life. Hammering down hard on the Caps Lock key, she writes: “The crazy and depressing truth is that there are people running for office right now who could actually affect your life. PARTICULARLY your sex life. PARTICULARLY if you’re a woman. Yup.”

Yup? Nope.

Those of us who have been working against various mandates imposed by the Affordable Care Act are as a matter of fact attempting to extricate ourselves from involvement in Lena Dunham’s sex life, the details of which we would gratefully leave to her own idiosyncratic management. It is the so-called Affordable Care Act that has involved us in subsidizing birth control, abortifacients, surgical abortions, and who knows what else, for the strong, powerful, self-actualized American woman who cannot figure out how to walk into Walgreens, lay down the price of a latte, and walk out with her own birth-control pills, no federal intervention necessary. The very conservative editors of this magazine (National Review) are in fact trying to make it easier for them to do so with over-the-counter birth control. I suspect that Miss Dunham does not know very many conservatives, so allow me to pass along the message: We really, truly, sincerely do not wish to be involved in your sex life.

I would like to suggest, as gently as I can, that if you are voting as an act of self-gratification, if you do not understand the role that voting in fact plays in a constitutional republic, and if you need Lena Dunham to tell you why and how you should be voting — you should not vote. If you get your politics from actors and your news from television comedians — you should not vote. There’s no shame in it, your vote is statistically unlikely to affect the outcome of an election, and there are many much more meaningful ways to serve your country and your fellow man: Volunteer at a homeless shelter; join the Marine Corps; become a nun; start a business.

And maybe think about acting like men and women rather than boys and Girls."


On a related note --

Saturday, August 30, 2014

No Joke

Kyle Smith (NY Post), using the example of "Saturday Night Live", illustrates how the main stream popular culture protects Barack Obama from criticism.

We learn this from Jim Downey, the longtime “Saturday Night Live” specialist in political japery. “If I had to describe Obama as a comedy project, I would say, ‘Degree of difficulty, 10 point 10,’” the writer says in the expanded new edition of the “SNL” oral history book, “Live from New York.”
“It’s like being a rock climber looking up at a thousand-foot-high face of solid obsidian, polished and oiled,” Downey says. “There’s not a single thing to grab onto — certainly not a flaw or hook that you can caricature. [Al] Gore had these ‘handles,’ so did Bush, and Sarah Palin, and even Hillary had them. But with Obama, it was the phenomenon — less about him and more about the effect he had on other people and the way he changed their behavior. So that’s the way I wrote him.”

Got that? The charter Choom Ganger, confessed eater of dog and snorter of coke. The doofus who thinks the language spoken by Austrians is “Austrian,” that you pronounce the p in “corpsman” and that ATMs are the reason why job growth is sluggish. The egomaniac who gave the queen of England an iPod loaded with his own speeches and said he was better at everything than the people who work for him. The empty suit with so little real-world knowledge that he referred to his brief stint working for an ordinary profit-seeking company as time “behind enemy lines.” The phony who tells everyone he’s from Chicago, though he didn’t live there until his 20s, and lets you know that he’s talking to people he believes to be stupid by droppin’ his g’s. The world-saving Kal-El from a distant solar system who told us he’d heal the planet and cause the oceans to stop rising. The guy who shared a middle name with one of the most hated dictators on earth.

Nope, nothing there to mock. No way to get a grip on this polished, oiled obsidian. So comedy writers didn’t and mostly still don’t. Jim Downey isn’t in dereliction of his comedy duty to take down the high and the mighty, or so he begs you to think. He’s just too obtuse to see Scrooge McDuck quantities of comedy gold when they’re sitting right in front of him. Did Sarah Palin lack for material to lampoon when she blasted away at Obama in her 2008 convention speech?


My own attempt at Obama-based humor can be seen here. If I may say so, it's wittier than that lame SNL skit accompanying Smith's column and I'm paid quite a bit less than SNL writers and actors.