The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Moral Busybodies

There are fewer than 9 hours left in 2018, and one can't help wondering where our collective path will take us in 2019. A troubling indication occured this morning, when Politico reported that members of the Bernie Sander's 2016 campaign (social justice warriors (SJWs) all) have decided that Bernie's presidential campaign just wasn't pure enough:
More than two dozen women and men who worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign are seeking a meeting with the senator and his top political advisers to “discuss the issue of sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign, for the purpose of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle,” according to a copy of letter obtained by POLITICO.

“In recent weeks there has been an ongoing conversation on social media, in texts, and in person, about the untenable and dangerous dynamic that developed during our campaign,” they wrote ...

"Several people who signed the letter said that their effort is not just about Sanders’ 2016 or 2020 presidential campaigns, but rather about what they called a pervasive culture of toxic masculinity in the campaign world. They stressed that they hoped their letter would not be reduced to reinforcing the “Bernie Bro” caricature, but rather would be part of a larger reckoning among people who run campaigns."
Invariably, SJWs tend to eat their own.

But they also try to destroy anyone or anything that challenges their self-perceived moral authority on any subject, whether its gender, racial , immigration, climate, economic, or business politics—to name only a few. That will be a major issue in 2019.

Coincidentally, I ran across a quote from C.S. Lewis:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
Politico's report on the "concerns" of Bernie's staffers indicates that they want Bernie's campaign to be "cured of states which we may not regard as disease" without offering any hard evidence that the "disease" exists or that true offenses were rendered. That's a form of tyranny (or bullying, if you prefer) all in the name of social justice. It's authoritarian and wrong. It's also the work of "moral busybodies" who have absolutely no monopoly on moral behavior.

Sunday, December 30, 2018


As we prepare for the entry of 2019, it's worth noting that Democrats will take center stage. They will conduct interminable and rabid investigations of Donald Trump and his administration; they will oppose anything and everything that Trump does—no matter how much it would have aligned with Democrat principles had a Democrat president done it; they will anoint a contender for the 2020 presidential election—fighting among themselves to determine how far to take identify politics and intersectionality in their rush to identify the "most leftist" contender. Driven by what many have called Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS), they will do little to benefit the country, nothing to compromise with the GOP, and everything to regain the broad power that they and they alone believe is eternally theirs.

Jonathan Turley comments on all of this:
Washington has long been a stranger to principle other than the principle of self advancement. Yet, something new seems to be emerging across the country. Politicians have long felt the need to disguise raw political agendas in the pretense of principle. That pretense has disappeared.

In this age of rage, voters seem to have no patience, let alone need, for leaders speaking of abstract principles. They want immediate unequivocal action in supporting or opposing President Trump. For Democrats, that all consuming purpose has led to the abandonment of core unifying values, including many that first drew me to the Democratic Party. While they would vehemently deny it, Trump is remaking the party in his inverse image. This past month shows how far that transformation has gone.

The remaking of the Democratic Party was evident last week with the reaction to the decision to withdraw troops from Syria. There was a time when a sizable number of Democrats opposed undeclared wars and unending military campaigns. Now, they are appalled that Trump would not continue a war in one of the myriad countries with American troops engaged in combat operations.
The irony of this is inescapable, but driven by TDS, the Dems' reaction was also eminently predictable.

Turley, an law professor, goes on to examine the Democrat reaction to the intrusive and highly questionable investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016. He writes:
In supporting the investigation of Trump, Democrats have embraced expanding definitions of crimes like obstruction, conspiracy, and the like. Historically, Democrats have resisted such efforts to stretch the criminal code to criminalize broader and broader areas of conduct. During the Trump administration, Democrats sound like legal hawks in demanding criminal charges for conduct long treated as civil matters, such as campaign finance violations and foreign agent registration violations.

In pursuing Trump, Democrats have also adopted a type of “red scare” mindset. While Republicans long pumped up the Russian menace as a political Cold War narrative, Democrats are now adopting the same type of rhetoric over the Russian attempt to interfere with the 2016 president election. Democrats for the past two years speak about how Russians “stole” the election or destroyed the legitimacy of the results, with little empirical data to support such irresponsible and unfounded claims.

While many of us support the Mueller investigation and the need for sanctions against Russia for its interference, Democrats now routinely refer to Russia as our “enemy” and accuse any people with alleged connections to Russians as “traitors.” Special counsel Robert Mueller may have more to reveal on Russian hacking, but there is little evidence that either the trolling operation or leaked emails of the Hillary Clinton campaign had a material impact on the 2016 presidential election.
But the Dems will not be swayed. Power is in the balance and their hatred of all things Trump may very well warp their actions and their political strategy. Turley uses an apt metaphor when he writes:
Democrats are now defined by Trump the way that antimatter is defined by matter, with each particle of matter corresponding to an antiparticle.
In physics, when anti-matter collides with matter, something called "annihilation" occurs. That's the path that the Dems have chosen—a collision that results in significant heat, but nothing else of substance.

Friday, December 28, 2018


In a week, the new Democrat House of Representatives will be in place, and at the same time a collection of shadowy left-wing non-profits will begin work to bring down the Trump presidency or cripple it so badly that the 2020 presidential election will be a guaranteed Dem win (sort of like the 2016). As Dem House investigations work to demonstrate that Donald Trump is a cross between Alger Hiss, John Gotti, and Adolf Hitler, we're going to hear one word repeated incessantly as Trump and his allies try to defend themselves—"civility."

The Dems' trained hamsters in the media will criticize Trump as he counterpunches via twitter ("he lacks civility"), they'll pile on his defenders ("why don't we see 'civility' in political discourse"), and they'll lament the growing trend of political attacks but always—always—suggest that the GOP is the villain.

Conservative bomb-thrower Kurt Schlichter comments:
Civility is a component of a system of reasoned debate, not its end product. Civility is necessary in a system where people reason in good faith in order to come to the best solution to the policy challenges facing them. Civility lubricates that process, and allows people of good faith to disagree without engendering unnecessary and destructive discord.

People of good faith. See, that’s key.

The problem is that progressives are not people of good faith.

They are not trying to reason. They are not trying to compromise. They do not accept the basic concept that all American citizens have inalienable rights and that the law must apply equally to everyone. They hate us.
Schlicter's words are extreme, no doubt, but there's an element of truth in them. It appears (based on the events of the past two years) that many progressives truly do believe that they have a monopoly on morality and values, and that people who disagree with their version of morality and values are somehow deplorable. They throw words like "racist" or "misogynist" around like confetti, in an obvious attempt to shut down any dissent from their worldview. Their tools include the ad hominem attack, which they use like a cudgel to intimidate, and "outrage" which allows them to re-interpret innocent comments or events in their most damaging interpretation. The Kavanaugh hearings demonstrated the depths to which some progressives will go to get what they want.

And when their opponents push back—hard—Democrats and their trained hamsters cluck their tongues and begin talking about "civility." A better topic might be "hypocrisy."

Thursday, December 27, 2018


I find it amusing that most Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media refer to the partial government shut down as a "crisis." And it is ... but not in the way they're implying. But first, let's digress.

Almost 90 percent of the government employees in Commerce Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have been deemed as non-essential—that is, they're given a paid vacation until the politicians decide that proper funding for border security is important enough to end the vacation. And make no mistake—for all the lamentation about government employees not getting a paycheck, they will be paid in full for their days off. No work, but good pay—impressive.

But back to the "crisis." What worries the proponents of Big Intrusive Government (i.e., the Democrats and a few GOP members) is that the average person might not notice any appreciable effect associated with the partial government shutdown ... and then ... that same person might connect a few dots and ask: (1) whether all of those "non-essential" government employees are really necessary; (2) whether closing down many of the programs those same non-essential government employees support might not be a bad idea; (3) whether all the government spending associated with the 25 percent of government that is shut down might be used more effectively or better yet, not spent at all, and (4) whether the fact that the closure doesn't effect their lives in any appreciable way indicates that just maybe all the folks who keep telling them how dependent they are on the federal government are full of it.

That's the "crisis" that the Dems and their trained hamsters in the media are talking about. The narrative is under attack, and that simply cannot be tolerated.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Democratic Socialism

My guess is that 2019 will be the year of "Democratic Socialism"—a euphemism for an leftist ideology that is anti-capitalist and anti-business, pro big intrusive government (BIG), pro-income redistribution and most importantly, advocates "social justice" that is defined solely by people who fervently believe that they and they alone exist on a higher moral plane than anyone who questions their positions.

Currently, Democratic socialism is being sold as 'socialism-lite' with the catch phrase—"We can do better, if we do it together." But in reality, democratic socialism is socialism with all of real dangers it implies.

If you listen to its adherents, you'd think that over 240 years of free enterprise and individual freedoms have counted for nothing, that Bernie Sanders and his followers have somehow come up with a better, more just and effective solution to the challenges we all face. They. Have. Not.

How can I say that? Because history has proved me right over and over and over again.

It's worth considering a video that asks more than a few inconvenient questions about socialism and the people who advocate it:

To quote Glen Reynolds:
“Under capitalism, the rich grow powerful.

Under socialism, the powerful grow rich — and everyone else grows poor.”
And in the extreme, everyone being poor is the least of the damage that socialism can do.

UPDATE (12/27/2018):

As we watch the tragic collapse of Venezuela under the socialist regime of Chevez/Maduro—a place where things have gotten so bad that millions have left and other millions are relegated to selling everything from their hair to their bodies to survive, there's a grim old joke that's worth repeating:
Q: What did socialists use before they used candles?
A: Electricity.

UPDATE (12/29/2018)

Of course, hard core progressives will never admit the there may be problems with the way socialism in Venezuela has worked out. Note the tweet by someone named "Dr. Madeline Seers, PhD" [as someone with an earned PhD, I can tell you with absolute certainty that when a person identifies with "Dr." before their name and uses PhD afterward, they're rather enamored of themselves] and the response by Richard Fernandez (Wretchard):

"Dr. Madeline Seers, PhD" is representative of a class of progressives who live in a fantasy of their own construction. In their fantasy world, their high minded moral preening is all that matters. Outcomes? Oh ... that's for people of low intellect and lower morals. Pathetic.

And then, of course, there's the fundamental question: Why doesn't "Dr. Madeline Seers, PhD" emigrate to Venezuela right now so she can gain the benefits she implies?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Deep Breathes

Like him or not, the vicious and often hyperbolic attacks on Donald Trump have become so common and frequent, they lose most of their punch. And 2018 is just a warm up as the four constituencies, led by the new Democrat majority in the House, will conduct never-ending "investigations" intended to further destabilize Trump's presidency and in their fever-dreams, lead to his impeachment and removal from office. It'll be good theater. It'll be bad for the country. But no one seems to care.

If you are to believe the Dems, their media hamsters, GOP Nevertrumpers, and denizens of the deep state, the world is coming to an end—because Trump!

Nick Gillespie asks us all to step back and take a few deep breathes. He writes:
By now, you know the end of the world is not simply nigh, but almost fully complete. It's all Donald Trump's fault.

Yesterday, the president announced that he's pulling 2,000 troops out of Syria, a country the U.S. should not have entered in the first place (and did so only after spending most of the 21st century destabilizing the larger Middle East). The president then hinted he was going to do the same in Afghanistan, our country's longest and perhaps least successful war. Defense Secretary James Mattis—universally anointed "the last adult in the room" around Trump—resigned, making public his unmistakable contempt for his former boss. The markets have been tanking all month, a government shutdown over a stupid and sure-to-be-ineffectual wall on the border with Mexico is looming, the weekend's big release is a movie about Aquaman, and it's raining where I live.

The nation is in "a tailspin," pronounces The Washington Post,
At perhaps the most fragile moment of his presidency—and vulnerable to convulsions on the political right—Trump single-handedly propelled the U.S. government into crisis and sent markets tumbling with his gambits this week to salvage signature campaign promises.

The president's decisions and conduct have led to a fracturing of Trump's coalition. Hawks condemned his sudden decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Conservatives called him a "gutless president" and questioned whether he would ever build a wall. Political friends began privately questioning whether Trump needed to be reined in.
A few deep breathes are in order. Yes, Trump is what Jeb Bush called him in a Republican primary debate that took place what seems like 100 years ago (actually, December 2015): a "chaos candidate" who would be a "chaos president." He's thin-skinned, too: "One of the things he's most vulnerable to is mockery and mockery by his own supporters," an anti-immigration activist told the Post.

That is nothing worth celebrating in a teenager, much less a president, but the current end-of-worldism is a bit much. Trump is doing pretty much exactly what he promised he would do: Shrink our military footprint around the world, insist on a border wall, act impulsively and childlishly. Critics are right to chastise Trump for not following any sort of coherent process in arriving at or announcing his Syria decision, but it's still the right decision. It's always ugly and disturbing when the United States pulls out of occupied countries (remember Saigon?), but are we supposed to stay in Syria and Afghanistan forever?
Short answer—nope!

It is amusing to watch left-wing politicians and commentators—you know, the same left-wing politicians and commentators who (correctly, it turns out) criticized neocons for the intervention in various Middle East countries, now argue that we should stay in Syria and Afghanistan because—well, because, Trump is pulling us out and Trump cannot ever, ever be right on anything. In fact, if he's right on this, my goodness, he might also be right on border security or broader immigration policy, on economic policy or anything else. That can't happen, so let's hunker down behind some sandbags and stay the course in a variety of Middle Eastern hellholes. It hard not to laugh out loud at the hypocrisy.

After you've completed your deep-breathing exercise, it's worth considering Gillespie's summary comments:
It's easy to focus on Donald Trump, who "single-handedly" propels the government, the media, the world into crisis on an almost hourly basis. But though he is very different in the way he presents himself and is treated by the media, his actions are not so very different from those of recent presidents, all of whom crossed lines that should never have been crossed "when it came to foreign policy, domestic surveillance, governmental overreach, the drug war, deportations, and so much more." What Trump ultimately represents or embodies is the twilight of postwar America, of a consensus forged for a very different world and very different circumstances. He too will pass from the scene, and then many, if not all, of the same problems will remain—until we reach a new consensus for a government that no longer tries to be all things to all people, both here and abroad.
Gillespie is correct, but unlike other presidents who preceded him, Trump has tried to disrupt the status quo and directly confront the problems that Washington elites have created over multiple decades. That's enormously threatening to those elites, to whom maintenance of power is everything. Maybe what they're really worried about is that the end of their world is nigh.

Friday, December 21, 2018


If you were to believe the four constituencies (add the DoD to that list as card carrying members of the deep state), withdrawing 2,200 troops from Syria will destabilize the Middle East, lead us on a path to regional or global war, and otherwise create chaos and mayhem. Uh ... no. Nancy Pelosi clutched her pearls and became a hawk for a few seconds, Lindsey Graham become a neocon once more, and commentators across the political spectrum expressed concern, panic, and anger as they tut-tutted Trump's move. It wasn't consultive, they opined. It was precipitous, they complained. It wasn't collaborative, they grumbled. We should have stayed, they protested.

Why exactly? Syria is a hellhole that exemplifies the 1400 year conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims. We cannot fix that conflict, nor can we do much to stop Muslims from killing other Muslims in a bloody and violent war. Only Muslims can do that, and they've shown absolutely no propensity to do so.

For eight years, the four constituencies, along with a hapless Barack Obama tried conventional approaches to "solve" the Syria problem, to eject Assad, and the undermine Iran (a key objective), all to no avail. They held meetings, consulted with allies, made empty threats, said all the right things with pitch perfect concern and intonation, told us that war crimes would not stand ... and then they accomplished exactly nothing.

Enter Trump. He immediately sent a message to Assad (think: his response to the use of chemical weapons: the launch of 50 cruise missles within a few months of his taking office) and crippled ISIS in Syria. But Assad, with the help of the Russians, kept rolling along, and the barbaric Islamists simply moved to another country and will likely reform and regroup as another acronym, creating serious terror problems in the future.

Russell Berman comments:
... Trump’s reticence about the United States’ ongoing involvement in faraway conflicts may resonate beyond his conservative base, finding common cause with millions of Americans who have grown weary of the decades-long post-9/11 wars. And the loud clamor of opposition to the president’s decision stands in contrast to the scale of the U.S. military presence in Syria. The approximately 2,200 troops stationed there are down from a reported peak of around 4,000 and a far cry from the more than 100,000 American soldiers who were deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan at one time. Around 5,000 troops are now fighting isis in Iraq.
This is more about symbolism than anything else. But how long should we stay? What can 2,200 troops in a sea of millions of combatants really accomplish?

Sure, this symbolic move empowers Iran in the short term (a very bad thing), leaves the Kurds (a staunch ally) with little backup, and otherwise roils our alliances. All of that is not good. But if we are to ever get out of the Syrian hellhole, someone had to pull the trigger. That someone was Donald Trump.


We've spent 17 years war-fighting (to a greater or lessor extent) in another Middle Eastern hellhole—Afghanistan. During those 17 years ww've tried to destroy the Taliban, negotiate with them, and otherwise attempted to legitimize a national government—all with little to show for it. Afghanistan's tribal politics are complex and brutal—beyond the grasp of most westerners. We have spent hundreds of billions and lost far too many American lives. It's time to leave Afghanistan as well, and for those who would object, there's only one question that they must answer: If we couldn't achieve our goals in 17 years, what makes you think we'll achieve them in the next one, two or 10 years?

UPDATE-2 (12/22/2018)

Christopher Roach comments on Trump planned withdrawal from Syria and the four constituencies' reaction to it:
In response [to Trump's announcement of a withdrawal from Syria], we hear what amounts to word salad. We need to ensure stability, protect the Kurds, shore up Israel, remain on scene for contingencies, protect Iraq’s western border (while we neglect our own), lest we “pull defeat from the jaws of victory.”

This is all unpersuasive. Wars should be fought to protect our people and further their interests. The world is too big and complicated for us either to ensure peace everywhere, or to reform the deep pathologies of the Islamic world.

As we learned in Iraq, we soon become the irritant around which multiple groups can unite if we embark on open-ended commitments to and occupations of strange foreign lands.
The "deep pathologies of the Islamic world" will haunt the West throughout this century. We cannot fix those pathologies, nor can we avoid the bloody infighting that occurs whenever Sunnis and Shia come into contact with one another, nor can we intervene every time Islam creates a humanitarian disaster among its own people (think: Libya or Syria or Yemen or Somalia) or subjugates women or violates human rights of its populations. Until Islamic countries eradicate the Islamist influence in their midst, they should be viewed as pariahs and treated accordingly.

Thursday, December 20, 2018


If it weren't for the fact that he and his investigative team have ruined people's lives, ignored long standing prosecutorial precedents and procedures, and rummaged through the backgrounds of anyone remotely associated with the evil villain and Russian stooge, Donald J. Trump, Robert Mueller's "investigation" coupled with the FBI's egregious actions that lead to it could easily be characterized a farce.

Sharyl Attkisson recounts the story of Carter Page (read the whole thing), a relatively low-level figure in the Trump universe who the FBI investigated, wiretapped, and surveilled in a fruitless effort to find evidence of Russian collusion. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Attkisson writes:
We know Carter Page is a diabolical Russian spy because the FBI wiretapped him. Under our laws, FBI agents cannot wiretap a U.S. citizen based merely on suspicion or hunches, or to fish for information; they must possess hard evidence indicating the target is currently — or imminently about to become — a foreign spy. So the FBI would not have wiretapped Page if it couldn’t meet the legal evidence threshold. (At least they shouldn’t have.)
She then goes on to recount the efforts of James Comey, Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe, and Lisa Page in their efforts to use strok as their catpaw to defeat Trump before the election and destabilize his presidency (can you say "insurance policy") afterwards. It's worth noting that all four of these liars and miscreants have been fired, yet not one will suffer any legal consequences for their unethical and potentially criminal actions.

After recounting 20 questionable investigative actions directed against page, Attkisson concludes:
Clearly, all of this implies that the FBI’s efforts drew mounds of incriminating evidence enabling Mueller to quietly build an airtight case against the central figure in a wide-ranging conspiracy to change votes in Campaign 2016, at the direction of Donald Trump. We now await the indictments.

And yet ...

As of now, Carter Page hasn’t been charged with so much as lying to the FBI or filing a faulty tax return, let alone Russian spying. He endured the most intrusive, intimidating methods the government has at its disposal. He was the subject of media leaks. His reputation was destroyed. If he’s never charged with being a Russian spy, he’s either that slippery … or it would suggest that the top intelligence officials who targeted him were either incompetent or corrupt. It would seem to border on criminal.

If Carter Page isn’t the world’s most diabolical spy ever, then it could imply that the investigation itself has been diabolical.
Diabolical, indeed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Punching Down

We're told by a wide array of those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome that this president and presidency is unraveling before our eyes—that Mueller is closing in; that the Dems are ready to impeach; that lacking any evidence of collusion or obstruction, his payment to a porn star is a criminal act; that his administration is in disarray; that foreign leaders are laughing at him. And yet, miraculously, Trump's accomplishments keep piling up. In fact, although he seems bothered by the machinations of the four constituencies who want to take him down, Trump is certainly not so preoccupied that he and his people can't accomplish what they want to accomplish.

My guess is that the only person who can take Trump down is Donald Trump. Rich Lowry comments:
It is a journalistic trope that this [the great 'unraveling"] is happening to President Trump before our eyes. The media constantly write stories about how the president is panicked and cornered, barely able to handle his duties, as the walls perpetually “close in.”

But as far as any outside observer can tell, he’s as ebullient and combative as ever, and has never blinked, no matter how intense the pressure of any given controversy.

Far from getting crushed by the weight of the office, Trump doesn’t seem to feel it at all. Never has any president been as outwardly unfazed by the majesty of the presidency and the White House, or made fewer accommodations to their trappings and norms.

President Trump still acts like he’s Celebrity Trump fighting a vicious flame war with Rosie O’Donnell, except his targets now might be other heads of state, or his own attorney general, or losing members of his own party.

The idea that he is a representative of the nation apparently makes very little impression on him. He never stops to think that any given jibe might be unworthy of the highest office in the land, or maybe that he, blessed with more power and showered with more attention than anyone on the planet, has an obligation to be elevating and restrained, even if no one else is.

One of the attractions of the presidency to him appears to be that he can continue to punch down — but do it from a higher altitude than ever before.
Whether it's mean-spirited attacks* on former staffers or silly tweets castigating SNL skits, Trump will not let up—not even a little. In the end, "punching down" may be the single thing that brings him down. Many people really don't like it and give far more weight to Trump's often obnoxious style than to his accomplishments. Unless he changes (and he almost certainly will not), that may be the thing that is his undoing.


* It's worth noting the mean-spirited attacks are different than counter-punching. When Trump is attacked viciously or dishonestly, he fights back in ways never before used by former GOP presidents. For many of his followers, that's a refreshing change. But when counter-punching becomes punching down, it can and is perceived as bullying. Nobody likes a bully.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Christmas Story

It's a week until Christmas and Americans are inundated with Xmas-related themes across all media. On TV, old (and not so old) Christmas movies air nightly and will continue to do so through the new year. My favorite Christmas movie, hands down, is the slightly irreverent and (by modern standards) politically incorrect, A Christmas Story. It's the kind of movie people watch over and over again.

The movie is based on the writing of Jean Shepard whose short stories are notable in their own right.

Given the lunatic #MeToo outrage over the song, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," A.J. Rice provides us with some insight into why the movie, A Christmas Story, just might be a target for SJW 'outrage' in the near future:
... the film is about a healthy, intact family. Ralphie Parker, played by Peter Billingsley, and his suburban midwestern family have a pretty good life in the 1940s Rust Belt, which has since been decimated by international trade deals and unchecked immigration.

The Parkers are average working-class folk living on the Indiana side of the Chicago suburbs in postwar America. Ralphie’s parents are happily married, and neither is an idiot, a cheater, or a crook. Having returned from the war, “Old Man” Parker (the father is never named and played impeccably by the great Darren McGavin) has a job, owns a home in a good neighborhood, raises his family, profanely battles the furnace, and is always in search of a way to make life better. Mom loves him and dotes on their boys. The parents are not human helicopters—the Parker kids are free-range boys who walk themselves to school without being tracked by Mom with a smartphone GPS app.

Ralphie is about 9 years old. His fondest Christmas wish is—brace yourself—a gun. Specifically, a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Can you say raging “toxic masculinity”? Someone call the liberal arts department! We need a class to explain why someone would want a BB gun for Christmas.

Wait, it gets worse. “A Christmas Story” isn’t all sunshine and light. It has a dark side, thanks in part to director Bob Clark. He used his success on a very different film, “Porky’s,” to lift “A Christmas Story” to the big screen.

Ralphie is a victim of a big, mean bully. This isn’t some misunderstood kid or anti-hero, he’s a typical nasty neighborhood bully named Scut Farkus and an ever-present menace. He mocks, threatens, and beats up on everybody, even his own lackey sidekick. One day, Ralphie has had enough and gives the bully a serious bloody-nosed beatdown. It’s epic, and handled perfectly in the film. You want that bully to get his due, and when he does, it’s satisfying.

After the battle, amazing things happen. No police are called. No charges are filed. No one is suspended from school. There’s no hate crime investigation. No two week breathless discussion on CNN. In fact, Ralphie’s mom seems proud of him, and when she tells the old man Ralphie was in a fight, he seems to be aware of it and proud of him, too. But not so proud they make a big deal about it. Everybody doesn’t get a trophy, even after a TKO.

This was America before the anti-bullying campaigns that seem to put bullies in control of today’s schools. Dads used to tell their sons to stand up for themselves. Dads even said they would back their boys up if it came to all that. Punching your bully was a rite of passage. That’s the America the ’60s radicals and today’s SJWs hate—the America of the Greatest Generation. It’s gone now, like so much more in the world of “A Christmas Story.” Bullies of the past got handled by a street code, now they just hang out on Twitter.
The thing you notice about A Christmas Story is that unlike far, far too many modern Hollywood offerings, it doesn't preach; it doesn't promote a specific world view; it doesn't try to be artificially inclusive or ersatz diverse, it simply tells an endearing story. And that's why it has become a classic.

Friday, December 14, 2018


Kim Strassel is one of the relatively few journalists who have reported on FBI abuses of investigative power over the past two and a half years. Using unassailable evidence, the words and actions of senior FBI officials, and the testimony of disgraced (and we now know, hyper-partisan) FBI director, James Comey, Strassel has delineated an apparent conspiracy to undermine Donald Trump before the election (think: the phony Russian dossier and the FISA court approval of surveillance on a presidenctial candidate) and destabilize his new administration (think: the texts between Strok and Page) after he won the presidency. The railroading of General Mike Flynn sits at the top of a heap of despicable, if not criminal, actions undertaken by the FBI and used by Robert Mueller to 'get' Donald Trump. She writes:
Robert Mueller has operated for 19 months as a law unto himself, reminding us of the awesome and destructive powers of special counsels. About the only possible check on Mr. Mueller is a judge who is wise to the tricks of prosecutors and investigators. Good news: That’s what we got this week.

Former national security adviser Mike Flynn a year ago pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Mr. Flynn’s defense team this week filed a sentencing memo to Judge Emmet Sullivan that contained explosive new information about the Flynn-FBI meeting in January 2017.

It was arranged by then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who personally called Mr. Flynn on other business, then suggested he sit down with two agents to clear up the Russia question. Mr. McCabe urged Mr. Flynn to conduct the interview with no lawyer present—to make things easier.

The agents (including the infamous Peter Strzok) showed up within two hours. They had already decided not to inform Mr. Flynn that they had transcripts of his conversations or give him the standard warning against lying to the FBI. They wanted him “relaxed” and “unguarded.” Former Director James Comey this weekend bragged on MSNBC that he would never have “gotten away” with such a move in a more “organized” administration.

The whole thing stinks of entrapment, though the curious question was how the Flynn defense team got the details. The court filing refers to a McCabe memo written the day of the 2017 meeting, as well as an FBI summary—known as a 302—of the Flynn interview. These are among documents congressional Republicans have been fighting to obtain for more than a year, only to be stonewalled by the Justice Department. Now we know why the department didn’t want them public.

They have come to light thanks to a man who knows well how men like Messrs. Mueller and Comey operate: Judge Sullivan. He sits on the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, and as he wrote for the Journal last year, he got a “wake-up call” in 2008 while overseeing the trial of then-Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. Judge Sullivan ultimately assigned a lawyer to investigate Justice Department misconduct.

The investigator’s report found prosecutors had engaged in deliberate and repeated ethical violations, withholding key evidence from the defense. It also excoriated the FBI for failing to write up 302s and for omitting key facts from those it did write. The head of the FBI was Mr. Mueller.
In a perfect world where truth and justice prevails, Judge Sullivan would throw out the entire Flynn Case, exonerating him of any wrong-doing, castigate the FBI for its disgraceful behavior, and sanction Mueller and his team for participating in this "witch hunt." I don't think that will happen, but one can always hope.


Michael Flynn was forced to plead guilty under Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1001. None other than Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (an icon among the same people who are persecuting Flynn) wrote this in 1996:
"The prospect remains that an overzealous prosecutor or investigator — aware that a person has committed some suspicious acts, but unable to make a criminal case — will create a crime by surprising the suspect, asking about those acts, and receiving a false denial."...

... the Department of Justice has long noted its reluctance to approve §1001 indictments for simple false denials made to investigators."
With Flynn, we have the exact circumstances that RBG describes. We have a biased overzealous investigative agency (the FBI) and biased prosecutor—a toxic mix that RBG warned us to avoid. It's a travesty that should be thrown out by Judge Sullivan.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Power and Greed

It looks like 77 year old Bernie Sanders is gearing up for another run at the presidency. Sanders, the godfather of "democratic socialists" is ramping up his class warfare rhetoric, using the same tired tropes used by all socialists over the past 100 years. Catherine Clifford reports (and editorializes):
The power and greed of billionaires in the United States is threatening the country.

So says Bernie Sanders, the 77-year-old senator from Vermont who tried unsuccessfully to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

“We live in a nation owned and controlled by a small number of multi-billionaires whose greed, incredible greed, insatiable greed, is having an unbelievably negative impact on the fabric of our entire country,” Sanders told Paul Jay, CEO and senior editor of The Real News Network, in an interview posted Thursday.

Sanders, who has become a political figurehead for the liberal end of the Democratic Party, said billionaires and their greed are to blame for any number of social problems in the United States.

“When we deal with climate change, when we deal with the economy, when we deal with housing, when we deal with criminal justice or immigration issues, we have got to deal with those in a holistic way, and understand why all of that is happening. Not see them as silo-ized separate issues,” Sanders said. “A lot of that has to do” with the pervasive power of the ultra rich in this country, he said.

It is the responsibility of America to look at the extreme gap between the rich and the poor, Sanders said.
In the run-up to his takeover of Venezuela 20 years ago, Hugo Chavez said essentially the same thing. He demonized the rich in Venezuela, told the "poor" that their lives would improve, and suggested that his path would lead to a utopian existence in which everyone would be "equal." He promised better healthcare, better education, better ... everything. That's not how it worked out.

Oh by the way, Chevez died a billionaire, having stolen about $2 billion from his country. But nevermind—the dictates suggested by class warfare are always aimed at others, never the leaders of the socialist movement.

Bernie's rhetoric is powerful but empty—not because he's alway wrong—he does identify systemic problems, but because his "solutions" would wreck our economy and hurt the "poor" and the "middle class" in exactly the same way Chavez (and later Maduro) ravaged those constituencies in Venezuela. The problems associated with income distribution in a society cannot be solved through confiscatory taxation, oppressive government controls, excessive regulation, and the demonization of those who create companies, employ millions, and spur economic growth. But demonization is the lingua franca of class warfare, and class warfare is the only strategy that socialists have.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Gilets Jaunes

The events in France continue to unfold, three things become increasingly clear.
  1. The "Normals" (as Kurt Schlichter calls them), have finally woken up. Working men and women across the income spectrum always bear the brunt of excessive taxation (despite the empty rhetoric of socialist politicians implying that only "the rich" will bear the burden) and are finally saying "enough." Socialist states throughout Europe rely heavily on various direct and indirect taxes to fund the programs that Democrats in the United States yearn to copy (e.g., "free" national health care). The problem, of course, is that these programs are hardly "free." They are enormously expensive, often inefficient, and sometimes ineffective, so to fix them, more and more money is needed. Finally, the socialist governments begin to run out of other people's money and in desperation, increase taxes until a tipping point is reached. That precipitates movements like the Gilets Jaunes in France
  2. The elites that govern Western countries have no feeling whatsoever for the struggles of working people. Many of the elites are consumed with social justice issues that are so far removed from the everyday struggles of the Normals that it's laughable. Even worse, the elites have no compunction about forcing the Normals to fund their pet causes or defund issues that the Normals believe are important (e.g., strong border security). For example, whether you believe that anthropogenic climate change is at a crisis level or not, unproven and often questionable policies to mitigate the "crisis" can make the lives of Normals more difficult. Understandably, there's push back as the Gilets Jaunes are doing right now.
  3. The condescension that the elites and their media hamsters heap on the Normals (think: "deplorables") suggesting that only the elites know what is best has created anger just below the surface. The Gilets Jaunes exemplify that anger in many ways.
All of this frightens and frustrates the elites, who had a long run during which their leadership was generally unquestioned. Until that leadership failed not once, or twice but repeatedly and sometimes catastrophically (think: the neocons). That's part of the reason why Donald Trump makes the elites crazy—his presidency, his sometimes crazy rhetoric, his bombast, and his direct attacks provide clear and irrefutable evidence that the elites have lost their central position. And they hate it!

American elites look nervously toward Europe and ask whether the analog to the Gilets Jaunes will arrive in America. If they keep doing what they're doing ...
  • growing government every bigger,
  • weaponizing major government agencies in a partisan fashion,

  • using the media as a propaganda arm,

  • whining about incivility and divisiveness while working hard to promote both,

  • pushing for the impeachment of a duly elected president,

  • conducting specious investigations that accomplish nothing,

  • instituting programs that are overly costly and generally ineffective,

  • continuing the hypocritical, sanctimonious, and dishonest rhetoric that exemplifies modern politics,

... there's a very strong likelihood that it will.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

-63 Percent

Now and then, one or more members of the "democratic socialist" wing (it's becoming more like the "body") of the Democratic party suggests that more government control of everything from healthcare to prescription drug production is the best path for success. After all, private enterprise is suspect and capitalists are worrisome.

In fact, in unguarded moments, some of the wing's most extreme members suggest that the government should nationalize specific companies (e.g., newbie congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested that Tesla IP should be nationalized so that all cars can become electric quickly.* That's naive at best and monumentally ignorant of the realities of the auto industry at worst, but whatever.

Spencer Jakab reports:
You know things are bad when North Dakota zooms past you.

Venezuela, by some measures home to the world’s largest crude reserves, saw oil output drop in September to a four-decade low of 1.17 million barrels. The same month saw North Dakota, owner of the Guinness World Record for the most snow angels, produce a record of nearly 1.3 million barrels.

Fracking technology accounts for North Dakota’s ascent, but so does bad policy. Go back to 2000, Hugo Chávez’s first full year in power, and Venezuela pumped nearly 3.2 million barrels a day, or about 33 times what North Dakota managed.

At least Venezuela still has better weather, global warming notwithstanding. North Dakota recorded the coldest temperature on earth to ring in 2018 on a day when Caracas only dipped to 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gosh ... the socialists' dream of nationalizing a major industry worked well for Venezuela, didn't it? In less than 18 years, oil production in that country is down by 63 percent! Just another small indicator of the wonders of socialism.


* As the owner of two EVs myself, I'm a strong proponent of the technology (it's simply better in every respect) but I'm also a strong proponent of allowing the free and independent markets to dictate buying patterns (and that's already happening with EVs). The government might have a peripheral role to play via tax incentives and a reduction in regulatory actions, but it should NOT interfere with the private sector in substantive ways.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Mueller Chase

If the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media are really convinced that Donald Trump is a liar, a fascist, a racist, a misogynist, an incompetent, a Russian stooge, and a really, really, really, really bad president, you'd think they's exhibit just a little patience, recognizing that the 2020 election will turn Trump out of office in a landslide for Joe Biden, or Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren, or Kamila Harris, or Beto, or some other Democrat superstar. But deep down, they remain obsessed and frightened by Hillary Clinton's upset loss. They have to prove that the Dem narrative didn't lose, that their candidate were wasn't rejected by half the country ... it was the RUSSIANS!

This weekend, the Dems and their media hamsters were all aflutter about Michael Cohen, Trump's scumbag fixer who flipped for Mueller and turned states's evidence. We learned the shocking (!) news that the Trump organization talked with Russians about real estate deals that never came to fruition, that no money changed hands, and that no meeting with actual high level government officials (only Cohen level Russian scumbags who claimed to be connected to Russian officials) took place. We also learned that that Trump paid hush money to a few women who he hooked up with years before he decided to run for office. The humanity!! This confirmed what every person in America already knew, that Trump is a serial philanderer.

Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler—politicians whose "honesty" makes Michael Cohen look like the most upstanding man on the planet—are already threatening an indictment with clear implication that impeachment is at hand. I have only one thing to say to the Dems—go for it! No matter that it will poison politics for a generation, roil the country, create uncertainty in the markets, foster instability in international relations, and otherwise damage the country—Trump Derangement Syndrome must be served.

With the stern look of law enforcement professionals, Mueller and his colleagues in the Southern district of New York have demonstrated how concerned that are about "campaign finance violations" connected with Trump's payoffs to a porn star. Interesting though, that the Southern District never talked indictments when the Obama campaign literally turned off international credit card validation software that allowed tens of millions of dollars in patently illegal international campaign contributions to Obama's presidential campaign (the campaign got a civil penalty of about $400,000), and the trained hamsters barely reported it. Nah, that was nothing compared to payout of personal money to a porn star. It's the hypocrisy and double standards that are galling, but it is what it is, I suppose.

Victor Davis Hansen comments:
Mueller and the New York federal attorneys were rightly upset that Cohen allegedly lied and admitted that he lied under oath. By all means, let us jail Cohen for subverting the entire foundation of our legal system that must rely on honest testimonies in all government inquiries.

And in that same spirit, let the Department of Justice also charge former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for lying under oath when he deliberately misled congress about NSA surveillance (and admitted to lying), and John Brennan as well, who as CIA director lied on two occasions about drone collateral damage and CIA surveillance of Senate staff computers (and admitted to such), and has serially misrepresented his efforts with then-Senator Harry Reid to seed the Steele dossier.

And let us indict either the former director James Comey or the deputy director Andrew McCabe of the FBI—or both—for making false statements to federal investigators and Congress, given their respective testimonies under oath about leaking to the press and the role of the Steele dossier in FISA warrants cannot be reconciled.

With all due respect to Michael Cohen, what is currently destroying the concept of the American system of jurisprudence are not the self-serving lies of such a minor shady operator, but rather the deliberate and more artful prevarication under oath of the nation’s top intelligence and law enforcement officers.
But we all know that none of that will happen. Trump must be undone, and it's Mueller's job (along with the NY state AG) to undo him. Witch hunt? It is, masked as a righteous search for justice, which it isn't.

Hansen continues:
What then is the Mueller chase all about?

In reductionist terms, in the midst of a political campaign, and as “insurance” for an expected Clinton victory, had Hillary Clinton not hired the Perkins Coie law firm (masking her own role) to hire Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS, to hire foreign national Christopher Steele, to hire foreign national Russian sources, to spin yarns about Donald Trump’s alleged “collusion” (spiced up for media leakage with lurid stories of Trump urolagnia), to create 11th-hour election anti-Trump hysteria throughout the media and federal government, then special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation would never have existed.

Or is it even worse than that?

Had Hillary Clinton just won the election as she was supposed to do, and Donald Trump, as he too was supposed to do, just sulked back in humiliation and media ridicule to his penthouse suite at Trump Tower, then the 2016 campaign’s sensationalized leaked yarns from the Steele dossier would have at best warranted a tiny lurid goodbye hit piece on Trump from the New Yorker or Vanity Fair. But simply by winning, Donald Trump brought untold misery upon his family, friends, associates—and himself.

What all the later unmaskings of U.S. citizens’ names by Obama officials, all the daily leaking of “bombshell” rumors to warp an election, transition, and presidency, all the lying under oath, all the texting of Page and Strzok, all the machinations of Andrew McCabe and James Comey, all the FBI insertions of informants, all the involvement of the CIA, Justice, and State Department in seeding the rumors and slander, all the collusion of a foreign national spying on a presidential candidate—what it was all about in the end was simple: In 2016, legions of bureaucrats wanted to score points in Hillary Clinton’s foreordained new administration by vying with each other to “insure” her blowout, to brag they had done in the ogre Trump, and to expect not so much impunity as adoration for their illegal but supposedly patriotic service beyond the call of duty. Trump was not just to be defeated but humiliated and destroyed as a lesson.

Then Clinton lost—or rather she blew a sure Electoral College victory.
And all hell broke loose.


As I mentioned, it's the double standard that is most galling. If Mueller and the Southern District of NY, along with every Democrat politician are so, so concerned about violations of campaign finance laws, why are they silent on Hillary's massive abuses during the 2016 campaign. Yeah, I know, Trump is president, but HRC ran for president, and her prosecution along with Trump's would be an object lesson for future candidates. Wait, what?!? Applying standards even-handedly—never!!

This tweet covers it nicely:

Friday, December 07, 2018

Retrograde Slide

Over the past month or so, I've been following Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter, the Left's new telegenic, intersectionally acceptable (i.e., young, latin, female) celebrity. It's informative.

Although not a Democrat party leader (actually, not even a Congresswoman at this point), Cortez provides a important window into Democratic Socialist thinking and possibly, the direction of the Democratic party. She is unabashedly in favor of big government solutions for everything from healthcare, to income inequality, to climate change. She says all of the right things (if you're a progressive) and has a large following of mostly young progressives who idolize her in a way not seen since the fawning praise heaped on Barack Obama before he did anything as president. Recall that Obama was awarded a Nobel peace prize prospectively, yet after eight years of serial failure on the world stage, slaughters in Syria, Libya, capitulation to Iran, and other geopolitical missteps, his media hamsters still characterize the man as a transcendent figure. Oh well, I digress. Back to Cortez.

In a recent "climate summit" Tom Elliott reports that Ocazio-Cortez said:
“I believe that the progressive movement is the only movement that has answers right now,” she said. “We're the only ones that are drawing from the lessons of history, from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from some of the most ambitious projects that we have pursued in American history. And that truly again is the scale that it's going to take.”
Hmmm. I suppose that depends on the questions.

I find it interesting that Cortez wants to go back to FDR's 1940s for direction, but refuses to acknowledge that a far a more recent socialist experiment in Venezuela has ended catastrophically. During the climate summit, she proposed nationalizing Tesla's EV technology in much the same way as Hugo Chavez suggesting nationalizing Venezuela's oil and gas industry. That did NOT work out well for Venezuela and it would NOT work out well for the United States, but Cortez is either too ignorant or too ideological to recognize the dangers (and failures) of centralized government control of an economy.

Cortez, her mentor Bernie Sanders, and the rest of the Dem Socialist crowd view the private sector as part of the problem, not part of the solution. Whether it's demanding centralized big government control of almost all aspects of our economy, dictating the wages that businesses should pay their workers, inventing regulations that strangle innovation, or demonizing capitalism, their Marxist-Leninist march toward the future is actually a retrograde slide into an ugly and failed past.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Look Deeper

George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st President of the United States, will be laid to rest today. He lived a life of accomplishment and by any standard, was a good and decent man. In death, Bush was praised in a bi-partisan manner, but there was a not-so-subtle edge to the praise, aimed squarely at the current president, Donald Trump. The tone was that Trump is the anti-Bush, and there's some truth to that. Here's what WaPo (certainly no friend of Trump) wrote: “Trump’s time in office, by contrast, has been defined by a war against virtually all of the norms and institutions that Bush held dear.”

But the WaPo's statement, although partially true, is hypocritical. Daniel Henninger comments on this:
Most of the Bush values can be found on any list of what are called—or used to be called—virtues. It is telling that these same simple virtues are now being praised by a media that has done so much in the past 30 years to undermine them.

Bush entered the White House in 1989. Since then, two overlapping currents have run through American life—one cultural, the other political. The big change that was coming in the political culture hit me hard at the Republican National Convention in Houston in 1992 ...

The novelist Norman Mailer covered the Houston convention for the New Republic and what he wrote about Barbara Bush spoke for repelled liberals everywhere:

“That was just what she did in her speech on Family Values. It was no rhetorical gem. On the page, it read like one of those decaffeinated pieces of prose that used to blanket the old Reader’s Digest, affirmative, highly simplified, and emotionally available to anyone whose I.Q. had managed to stay below 100.”

The media, or much of it, chose to conflate “family values” with “the right.” (While we’re on the subject, the right’s dismissal of “the Bushies” even now is cut from the same uselessly reductionist cloth.) That stereotyping of popular concerns about traditional values was one reason why a partisan political gulf began to open in those years ...

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who by the time of their presidential campaigns represented the victors in the culture wars, still took time to rhetorically slam the losers, who by then really were clinging to what was left from those battles ...

Times change. Family values have been displaced by a more media-driven agenda: racism, identity, gender, immigration, tariffs. Taxes are a constant, but if President Trump raises taxes next year in a compromise with the Pelosi Democrats, don’t expect the Beltway press to give him the same praise 41 is getting this week for reversing his no-new-taxes pledge.

Perhaps, like Bush, Donald Trump will be a one-term president, and for the same reason—a slowing U.S. economy. But if you want to discover why America lost the personal and political values of George H.W. Bush, forget Donald Trump. Look deeper.
The Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media don't want us to "look deeper." They would have us believe that Donald Trump is the source of all the political incivility, name-calling, bombast, and dishonesty we see in present day politics. But as Hennenger correctly states, Trump is the result of the political incivility, name-calling, bombast, and dishonesty that have been the modus operandi of the Democratic party and their media hamsters for decades. That's not an excuse for Trump's behavior, but it does help explain it.

The Bushes were vilified during their tenure in the White House, but they didn't fight back in any substantive way. They were gentleman in the old school tradition. Trump is different. He does fight back using the same political incivility, name-calling, bombast, and dishonesty that is directed at him. He is not the source of it, just the first president to return fire in kind. That isn't a good thing, but it's the reality of our current situation.

As I've mentioned in other posts, for the last 30 years, the Dems have used political incivility (think: Clarance Thomas), name-calling (think: Mailer above), bombast (think: pushing Grandma off a cliff) and dishonesty (think: "You can keep your Doctor") to bully anyone who challenged their positions or disagreed with their politics. They haven't been called on it because the media hamsters are nothing more than Democratic operatives with bylines. A bully never likes it when their target pushes back—hard. Trump, for better or worse, does just that and does it (via twitter) outside the control of the trained hamsters in the media. The Dems don't like it one bit.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018


Camile Paglia is an independent thinker, an iconoclast, a Democrat of the classical liberal school, and a brilliant observer of the American scene. The Spectator published a brief interview of Paglia today and characterizes her thusly:
Camille Paglia is one of the most interesting and explosive thinkers of our time. She transgresses academic boundaries and blows up media forms. She’s brilliant on politics, art, literature, philosophy, and the culture wars.
I couldn't agree more.

Here are a few snippets from the interview that are worth noting:

On the 2020 Democrat presidential field:
If the economy continues strong, Trump will be reelected. The Democrats (my party) have been in chaos since the 2016 election and have no coherent message except Trump hatred. Despite the vast pack of potential candidates, no one yet seems to have the edge. I had high hopes for Kamala Harris, but she missed a huge opportunity to play a moderating, statesmanlike role and has already imprinted an image of herself as a ruthless inquisitor that will make it hard for her to pull voters across party lines.

Screechy Elizabeth Warren has never had a snowball’s chance in hell to appeal beyond upper-middle-class professionals of her glossy stripe. Kirsten Gillibrand is a wobbly mediocrity. Cory Booker has all the gravitas of a cork. Andrew Cuomo is a yapping puppy with a long, muddy bullyboy tail. Both Bernie Sanders (for whom I voted in the 2016 primaries) and Joe Biden (who would have won the election had Obama not cut him off at the knees) are way too old and creaky.

To win in the nation’s broad midsection, the Democratic nominee will need to project steadiness, substance, and warmth.
Instead, the Dem field can best be characterized as a group suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. The Donald lives rent-free in each of their heads.

On Donald Trump:
Most Democrats have wildly underestimated Trump from the get-go. I was certainly surprised at how easily he mowed down 17 other candidates in the GOP primaries. He represents widespread popular dissatisfaction with politics as usual. Both major US parties are in turmoil and metamorphosis, as their various factions war and realign. The mainstream media’s nonstop assault on Trump has certainly backfired by cementing his outsider status. He is basically a pragmatic deal-maker, indifferent to ideology. As with Bolsonaro in Brazil, Trump rose because of decades of failure by the political establishment to address urgent systemic problems, including corruption at high levels. Democrats must hammer out their own image and agenda and stop self-destructively insulting half the electorate by treating Trump like Satan.
The Dems keep waiting for Trump to crash and burn, nurturing their fantasy of impeachment. Is that because deep down they sorta know that given all his real accomplishments over the past two years, they'll have trouble beating him in 2020?

On the "deep state:"
The deep state is no myth but a sodden, intertwined mass of bloated, self-replicating bureaucracy that constitutes the real power in Washington and that stubbornly outlasts every administration. As government programs have incrementally multiplied, so has their regulatory apparatus, with its intrusive byzantine minutiae ... Its spreading sclerotic mass is wasteful, redundant, and ultimately tyrannical.

I have been trying for decades to get my fellow Democrats to realize how unchecked bureaucracy, in government or academe, is inherently authoritarian and illiberal. A persistent characteristic of civilizations in decline throughout history has been their self-strangling by slow, swollen, and stupid bureaucracies ...

In the modern world, so wondrously but perilously interconnected, a principle of periodic reduction of bureaucracy should be built into every social organism. Freedom cannot survive otherwise.
The Trump administration is a threat to the deep state, and it, more than any other entity other than the media, has become his sworn enemy.

On political correctness:
... I never fully understood [Oscar] Wilde’s caustic satire of Victorian philanthropists and humanitarians until the present sludgy tide of political correctness began flooding government, education, and media over the past two decades. Wilde saw the insufferable arrogance and preening sanctimony in his era’s self-appointed guardians of morality.

We’re back to the hypocrisy sweepstakes, where gestures of virtue are as formalized as kabuki. Humor has been assassinated. An off word at work or school will get you booted to the gallows. This is the graveyard of liberalism, whose once noble ideals have turned spectral and vampiric.
Yeah ... "insufferable arrogance and preening sanctimony" covers it perfectly!

It's interesting that the trained hamsters in the media rarely give Camile Paglia the voice she deserves. Maybe that's because she doesn't fit neatly into the narrative they want to present.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

All About Power

In a thoughtful piece on how the elites on both the right and the left have failed in their attempts at effective governance, Chris Bray writes:
Today a well-entrenched class of professional thinkers largely understands expertise as the product of formal education and relationships to elite universities: You become an expert, or start to, by acquiring academic credentials. Extra points for grad school, and more points still for being a professor like Paul Krugman or Jonathan Gruber. Like the administrative class in Vichy France, or the scholar-officials of imperial China, you’re smart if you go to school a lot and excel on your exams, so you get to be in charge of some piece of the political or cultural mechanism.

But is it working? Are our credentialing instruments producing people who are capable of practical action? To borrow a question from firefighters, can our credential-holders put the wet stuff on the red stuff?

Nearly a decade ago, Angelo Codevilla noticed the calcification of the American ruling class, a thing we sometimes pretend not to have. Our elites, he wrote, are “formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits.” Thoroughly enculturated, the American elite gathers itself around a “social canon” that one does not question. Speaking of societal controversy with the wrong words puts a person outside the circle, out there in flyover country with the deplorables.
The simple reality is that the "best and the brightest"—many graduates of Ivy League schools, most with backgrounds in Law or political science, have made a real mess of governance.
  • They are experts at identifying problems but never effectively solving them.
  • They hide behind the decision of a group so that they won't have to take responsibility for decision made on their own.
  • They are often ignorant of the challenges facing those who actually do try to accomplish things in the private sector, but at the same time are unduly influenced by private sector lobbyists and big money coming from private sector entities.
  • They are adept at sponsoring specious studies, but never having any intention of actually acting on their findings.
  • They love to conduct hearings and "investigations" (just wait for House Dems to get started in the next Congress), but have neither the intelligence nor integrity to know when an "investigation' has become an inquisition.
  • They are successful at acquiring power, but abject failures at accomplishing anything that truly benefits a broad segment of the governed.
  • They are adept at spending other people's money on groups, projects, and things that benefit no one but the groups, projects and things that feed off the largess of the elites.
  • The are facile liars who consciously decide to embrace dishonest by convincing themselves its for the greater good
  • They are hypocrites, they are sanctimonious, and they are appallingly ineffective.
Bray continues:
For some time now, the credentialing of new American elites has centered not on knowledge and ability but on a set of cultural postures and social signals ... As Codevilla noted, our cultural upper classes and our economic upper classes don’t invariably overlap; a magnificently wealthy pro-Trump owner of coal mines or slaughterhouses is a lower-class person who happens to have a bunch of money. Don Blankenship doesn’t dine in the Hamptons with Lynn Forester de Rothschild. National political journalists, a status group that once ranked on par with show people and bartenders, are upper class, no matter their salaries. They lose their class status the moment they speak the wrong social code words, like, “I think Trump is doing a good job.” They know this, and live with an existential sense of status anxiety over it. For 40 years, with gathering uniformity of purpose, our credentialing institutions have taught postures rather than skills, attitudes rather than knowledge. This isn’t invariably true, and many fine scholars have taught many excellent practitioners, especially outside of the humanities and social sciences. But the overarching trend is toward training in intellectual and psychological uniformity, toward the world of excellent sheep.
Bah. Bah. Bah. But there's more to it than that. Those who govern build teams, and those teams are often composed on people just like them. Bray provides an example:
So the very finest people, elevated to positions of responsibility, do essentially nothing, but with elaborate demonstrations of rhetorical restraint. Samantha Power was a highly regarded journalist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who taught at our top-ranked school of government at one of our most elite universities. As a diplomat, she accomplished — what? In Syria, In Libya, in Iran, in Cuba, in Russia or China or Yemen or Saudi Arabia or North Korea, what did the highly credentialed mandarins of the Obama administration, led by a graduate of Harvard Law School, accomplish in the real world? Staffing up a new administration, Barack Obama hired Power, professor Cass Sunstein, professor Steven Chu, professor Christina Romer, and so on. Donald Trump hired generals, CEOs, and governors, people who were credentialed by lives of action and management. This isn’t disagreement; this is a difference of foundational premises. In short: Trump declines the authority of the cultural sectors that most assertively claim it. That’s the conflict, and that’s why it’s being played in a relentless tone of hysteria. There are credentialing authorities — and credential-holding elites — who can see the path to their own obsolescence. Like the empress dowager, they will not go quietly.
Maybe more than anything, it's the threat Trump poses to the cultural dominance of the elites and their followers that drives Trump Derangement Syndrome and its ugly tactics. After all, it is all about power.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Bad Guys-II

There appears to be nothing—absolutely nothing— that senators love more than sanctimonious criticism of something that won't result in political blowback. Consider the case of "journalist" Jamal Khashoggi. As I mentioned when the story broke, this is a case of Middle Eastern bad guys killing other middle eastern bad guys. The Saudis are certainly not angels, and Khashoggi is a Muslim Brotherhood Islamist who, had he been given the power, would have advocated the institution of Sharia law in the United States.

The Senate, however, decided that Khashoggi's murder was a last straw that somehow trumped U.S policy in the Middle East. They decided to demonstrate their strong moral compass by voting to abandon support of Saudi's proxy war against Iran in Yemen. After all, empowering Iran—a country that regularly murders its dissidents—in order to punish the Saudis makes sense — uh ... no it doesn't.

Conrad Black comments:
An oceanic volume of tears was shed over the cruel and barbarous fate of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributor and recent American resident, Muslim Brotherhood member, and Saudi critic of the Saudi regime, apparently in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi officials allegedly directed by the prince regent, Mohammad bin Salman. It appears to have been a disgusting and thoroughly premeditated crime. There is plenty of precedent among America’s allies for such crimes. The Soviet Union, which suffered 95 percent of the human casualties and 99 per cent of the physical damage in subduing Nazi Germany, was led by the almost incomparably barbarous Josef Stalin, who murdered more people than our common enemy, Hitler, but was no less valuable an ally for that. The “Free World,” which the United States led to victory in the Cold War, included in its ranks Spain’s dictator, Francisco Franco, Portugal’s Salazar, the Shah of Iran, Chiang Kai-shek, South Korea’s Syngman Rhee, the feudal monarchic despotisms of Arabia, and many of the bemedaled but often blood-stained juntas and strongmen of Latin America, Turkey, Greece, Pakistan, and post-Sukarno Indonesia. The fact that Mao Tse-tung was responsible for the deaths of scores of millions of Chinese did not make him any less prestigious in the United States, nor a less desirable party with whom to triangulate the relationship with the USSR starting in 1972.

Khashoggi had recently become an American resident of convenience, but that did not make his fate at the hands of the government of his country any particular business of the United States. Life is cheap in the Middle East, the hypocrisy of the high-handed Erdogan regime in Turkey is especially grating, geopolitical realities make Saudi Arabia a valuable ally opposite the Iranians and Palestinians, and the remonstrations of the U.S. government have driven the Saudis to denounce and disown their own actions and purport to try individuals responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. The purists who imagine that if everything is hinged on holding others to ideal standards, the United States can conduct any foreign policy at all beyond tourism, a little trade, and a few cultural agreements are dreaming.
Making pragmatic decisions can sometimes be harsh, but in my view, I'd rather punish the bad guys (the mad Mullahs of Iran) who want us and most other Westerners dead or subjugated than the bad guys (the Saudis) who are helping us keep the first set of bad guys in line. Just sayin'.