Saturday, December 22, 2012
Peter Ferrara seems to think so. Personally, I doubt it. I don't see anything as coherent as a socialist ideology coming out of the White House. "Socialism" covers a lot of ground, but it implies a lot that I don't think it's fair to attribute to Prez O. Indeed, in some ways I think we would be better off if he were a principled, democratic socialist.
What he actually is could be significantly worse than that. I think he is more susceptible to an quasi- or semi-Marxist explanation than he is a believer in them. What I mean here is that, however skeptical I might be of social classes being the ultimate explanatory variables in some super- Marxist sociology, taking Obama as representing and leading something you might call the "political class" seems pretty darn explanatory. It seems to me that just about everything he does can be explained as efforts to increase the power and wealth of that political class. The redistribution of wealth is just one means to that end. The political class is doing very well out of this presidency. DC and environs has gained enormously in wealth in the last four years and is still going strong, much more so than the rest of the country -- no recession there! Gobs of the stimulus money just went to state employees and politically favored clients. The big bank - big government nexus is so evident and scandalous it's hard to talk about without sounding like a commie from your grandfather's generation. I feel like I should be wearing one of those caps out of Dr. Zhivago. The phrase used for this now is "crony capitalism" but that term is not nearly sinister- sounding enough for what it is -- we need a better name. "Cronies" sounds like drinking buddies, not economy and nation- wreckers, as in fact they are. But while socialism usually turns into this thing called crony capitalism quickly enough, it's not really socialism, though it has many of the worst traits of socialism and very few of its virtues.
Sadly, at the biggest picture level it looks to me like we are a sort of corrupt, democratic mixed monarchy locked into a spending path that will inelectably lead it to bankruptcy, a kind of profligate mutual looting party a la Bastiat. (This view is a work in progress, please note.) Granted, socialism has a tendency to become corrupt, but perhaps we have found a somewhat different way to get on to the same road to serfdom, as it were. But my point is a minor one -- the epithet "socialism" just isn't that explanatory in the case of our predictament. It seems to me our abuses get rationalized by all sorts of cant pieties, not all of them socialist. Saving the earth, honoring the aged, keeping promises made, helping children, redistributing for fairness (yes, that's often socialist) and a score of other reasons are cited for sucking more out of the economy, running it through government, and spurting it out to members and clients of the political class.
I'm partial to this book, which offers some hope . . .
Mark Steyn: Vain search for meaning in massacre | ever, christmas, century - Opinion - The Orange County Register
The 16th-century Coventry Carol, a mother's lament for her lost son, is the only song of the season about the other children of Christmas – the first-born of Bethlehem, slaughtered on Herod's orders after the Magi brought him the not-so-glad tidings that an infant of that city would grow up to be King of the Jews. As Matthew tells it, even in a story of miraculous birth, in the midst of life is death. The Massacre of the Innocents loomed large over the Christian imagination: in Rubens' two renderings, he fills the canvas with spear-wielding killers, wailing mothers and dead babies, a snapshot, one assumes, of the vaster, bloodier body count beyond the frame. Then a century ago the Catholic Encyclopedia started digging into the numbers. The estimated population of Bethlehem at that time was around a thousand, which would put the toll of first-born sons under the age of 2 murdered by King Herod at approximately 20 – or about the same number of dead children as one school shooting on a December morning in Connecticut. "Every man a king," promised Huey Long. And, if it doesn't quite work out like that, well, every man his own Herod.
I think the best political essay writing is on the right these days. The writer is much freer and dispense with much of the usual cant. He can profess or hint at religious sentiments, but does not have to pay homage to the usual and implausible pieties of our times. In any event, the events of Newtown also made me think of the Holy Innocents, an element of the story usually left out amongst the holly and jolly, but then increasingly so is the rest of it. --ts
Friday, December 21, 2012
The ultimate value of the "negative path" may not be its role in facilitating upbeat emotions or even success. It is simply realism. The future really is uncertain, after all, and things really do go wrong as well as right. We are too often motivated by a craving to put an end to the inevitable surprises in our lives.
This is especially true of the biggest "negative" of all. Might we benefit from contemplating mortality more regularly than we do? As Steve Jobs famously declared, "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way that I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."
Stoics rule! --ts
Yesterday a federal district judge in Missouri entered a preliminary injunction against the HHS mandate on behalf of Paul Griesedieck, Henry Griesedieck, and the businesses they own and run (which are engaged in wholesale scrap metal recycling and the manufacturing of related machines). In the wonderfully named American Pulverizer Co. v. U.S. Dep’t of HHS, federal district judge Richard E. Dorr soundly ruled that all the relevant factors favored the entry of injunctive relief.
This all gets back to the issue of trust, not the issue of compromise. Most of us would be willing to compromise on some level if we knew there would be some point at which Boehner would hold the line and fight for his own position. Instead, we saw him regress from no revenues to yes revenues, albeit through capping deductions; then form no marginal rate increases to yes marginal rate increases, albeit for over $1 million in income and no debt ceiling increase. With Obama remaining firm against this plan, and Boehner giving away the kitchen sink at a rapid pace, why should rank-and-file members have trusted him that he wouldn’t pocket their huge concession on the tax issue for a worse deal?
Some very unhappy campers in the House GOP caucus. Can't really blame them. --ts
I understand that many of you think Plan B is the best the GOP could do. I understand you think we’ll get a worse deal now. I understand you think we needed to support the Speaker and not show weakness. I understand you think we needed to make sure people stop thinking we’re only about tax cuts for the rich.
Now, keep thinking I am wrong if you must, but stop pretending you don’t even understand my argument. It is pretty simple.
Redstate is good to read to get the view of the House GOP right wing. This view rarely makes it into even conservative leaning blogs, such as RCP, or the WSJ. --ts
After November 6, the amount of blue on the presidential electoral map made it appear as if the entire Midwest had been swallowed by the Great Lakes. Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota all went for Barack Obama. Most weren’t close.
One might think, then, that the American Midwest is hopelessly lost to the forces of big government. Yet within many of these states, something else is happening: conservatives are enacting some of the boldest reforms in the country, to broad public approval.
What's going on is complicated. You heard it here first. --ts
Here’s something you may not know about the 1987 battle that kept Robert Bork off the Supreme Court: Opponents pursued a whispering campaign against him on the grounds that he wasn’t enough of a religious believer
Walter Olson is always worth reading. What happened to Bork and later to Justice Thomas made a deep impression on me. It was one of the reasons for my (over-determined) decision to leave the law firm I was at-- it was deeply involved in the campaign against Thomas, Anita Hill and that whole [seems like there should be a long German word for disgraceful, smelly mess]. I wonder whether not really believing in law, as in The Rule thereof, judges just following it, not making it up, if you don't like what the Constitution says, amend it, and so on, makes it easier to violate those rules ordinary people observe out of decency. Sort of an in for a penny, in for a pound approach to not taking those fusty old rules too seriously. Rules like, you can't lie about someone just because you oppose them politically, certain things are out of bounds, and so forth. I note that a miscreant reporter at TNR (I think) recently recalled how he, he! was the cub reporter who unearthed Bork's (remarkably tame as it turned out) record of movies rented from Blockbuster or wherever. Like it was something to be proud of. Because you know, it had to be done, to protect the right of privacy! Does being a conservative or libertarian mean there are all sorts of things you "can't" do because they are, you know, wrong, while being what is so inaccurately called "liberal" (the notoriously morally uptight Gladstone, now that was a liberal) means you can just do whatever the hell you want, however vile in the event, while at the same time wrapping yourself up in pious self-congratulation? I guess that's a rhetorical question.--ts
Robert Bork, who died Wednesday, was an unrepentant reactionary who was on the wrong side of every major legal controversy of the twentieth century. The fifty-eight senators who voted against Bork for confirmation to the Supreme Court in 1987 honored themselves, and the Constitution. In the subsequent quarter-century, Bork devoted himself to proving that his critics were right about him all along.
What a no-class turd this Toobin fellow is. Sorry to use such a vulgarity, but sometimes it's the only thing that suffices. He cannot let the reputation of the man rest even in the grave; he must use the occasion of Bork's passing as another opportunity puff himself and his fellow character assassins up for the hatchet job they did back in the day. See Toobin's summary of Bork on antitrust law to get a quick feel for his wide ranging ignorance and simplicity. That's what passes for legal analysis at the New Yorker, I guess. The New Yorker was just like this during Bork's hearing themselves: smug and stupid. A lot of liberals realized at the time and more did later that what was done to Bork was disgraceful. He could have been opposed on principled grounds without descending into the mire, led by people like Toobin. He should be ashamed of himself and if he's not, other people should be ashamed of him for him.--ts