This infuriating story, which we quote almost in full, is about a victim of the Obama administration, showing how it zealously, even sadistically, implements its leftist policy, through the IRS and other government agencies, to target conservative groups and persecute individuals who form them. It comes from National Review, written by Jillian Kay Melchior.
The Engelbrechts were not, until recently, particularly political. They had been busy running a tiny manufacturing plant in Rosenberg, Texas. After years of working for others, Bryan, a trained machinist, wanted to open his own shop, so he saved his earnings, bought a computerized numerical-control machine, which does precision metal-cutting, and began operating out of his garage. “That was about 20 years ago” he says. “Now, we’re up to about 30 employees.”
For two decades, Bryan and Catherine drove to work in their big truck. Engelbrecht Manufacturing Inc. now operates out of a 20,000-square-foot metal building on the prairie just outside of Houston … They went back to their country home each night. Stress was rare, and life was good.
But the 2008 elections left Catherine feeling frustrated about the debates, which seemed to be a string of superficial talking points. So she began attending tea-party meetings, enjoying the political discussion. A spunky woman known for her drive, Catherine soon wanted to do more than just talk. She joined other tea partiers and decided to volunteer at the ballot box. Working as an alternate judge at the polls in 2009 in Fort Bend County, Texas, Catherine says, she was appalled and dismayed to witness everything from administrative snafus to outright voter fraud.
These formative experiences prompted her to found two organizations: King Street Patriots, a local community group that hosts weekly discussions on personal and economic freedoms; and True the Vote, which seeks to prevent voter fraud and trains volunteers to work as election monitors. It also registers voters, attempts to validate voter-registration lists, and pursues fraud reports to push for prosecution if illegal activity has occurred. …
In July 2010, Catherine filed with the IRS seeking tax-exempt status for her organizations.
Shortly after,the troubles began.
That winter, the Federal Bureau of Investigation came knocking with questions about a person who had attended a King Street Patriots event once. Based on sign-in sheets, the organization discovered that the individual in question had attended an event, but “it was a come-and-go thing”, and they had no further information on hand about him. Nevertheless, the FBI also made inquiries about the person to the office manager, who was a [King Street Patriots] volunteer.
The King Street Patriots weren’t the only ones under scrutiny. On January 11, the IRS visited the Engelbrechts’ shop and conducted an on-site audit of both their business and their personal returns, Catherine says.
“What struck us as odd about that,” she adds, “is the lengths to which the auditor went to try to … find some error. She wanted to go out and see [our] farm, she wanted to count the cattle, she wanted to look at the fence line. It was a very curious three days. …”
Bryan adds: “It was kind of funny to us. I mean, we weren’t laughing that much, but we knew we were squeaky clean. … ”
Two months later, the IRS initiated the first round of questions for True the Vote. Catherine painstakingly answered them, knowing that nonprofit status would help with the organization’s credibility, donors, and grant applications. In October, the IRS requested additional information. And whenever Catherine followed up with IRS agents about the status of True the Vote’s application, there was always a delay that our application was going to be up next, and it was just around the corner …
As this was occurring, the FBI continued to phone King Street Patriots. In May 2011, agents phoned wondering “how they were doing”. The FBI made further inquiries in June, November, and December asking whether there was anything to report.
The situation escalated in 2012. That February, True the Vote received a third request for information from the IRS, which also sent its first questionnaire to King Street Patriots. Catherine says the IRS had “hundreds of questions, hundreds and hundreds of questions.” The IRS requested every Facebook post and Tweet she had ever written. She received questions about her family, whether she’d ever run for political office, and which organizations she had spoken to.
“It’s no great secret that the IRS is considered to be one of the more serious [federal agencies],” Catherine says. “When you get a call from the IRS, you don’t take it lightly. So when you are asked questions that seem to imply a sense of disapproval, it has a very chilling effect.”
On the same day they received the questions from the IRS, Catherine says, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) launched an unscheduled audit of their machine shop, forcing the Engelbrechts to drop everything planned for that day. Though the Engelbrechts have a Class 7 license, which allows them to make component parts for guns, they do not manufacture firearms. Catherine said that while the ATF had a right to conduct the audit, “it was odd that they did it completely unannounced, and they took five, six hours. It was so extensive. It just felt kind of weird.”
That was in February. In July, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration paid a visit to Engelbrecht Manufacturing while Bryan, Catherine, and their children were out of town. The OSHA inspector talked with the managerial staff and employees, inspecting the premises minutely. But Bryan says the agent found only “little Mickey Mouse stuff, like, ‘You have safety glasses on, but not the right kind; the forklift has a seatbelt, but not the right kind.’” Yet Catherine and Bryan said the OSHA inspector complimented them on their tightly run shop and said she didn’t know why she had been sent to examine it.
Not long after, the tab arrived. OSHA was imposing $25,000 in fines on Engelbrecht Manufacturing. They eventually worked it down to $17,500, and Bryan says they may have tried to contest the fines to drive them even lower, but “we didn’t want to make any more waves, because we don’t know [how much further] OSHA could reach.”
“Bottom line is, it hurt,” he says. “[$17,500 dollars] is not an insignificant amount to this company. It might be to other companies, but we’re still considered small, and it came at a time when business was slow, so instead of giving an employee a raise or potentially hiring another employee, I’m writing a check to our government.”
A few months later, True the Vote became the subject of congressional scrutiny. In September, Senator Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) wrote to Thomas Perez, then the assistant attorney general of the civil rights division at the Department of Justice (who has now been nominated for labor secretary): “As you know, an organization called ‘True the Vote’, which is an offshoot of the Tea Party, is leading a voter suppression campaign in many states,” Boxer wrote, adding that “this type of intimidation must stop. I don’t believe this is ‘True the Vote’. I believe it’s ‘Stop the Vote’.”
And in October, Representative Elijah Cummings (D., Md.), the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, attacked True the Vote in a letter. He wrote that: “Some have suggested that your true goal is not voter integrity, but voter suppression against thousands of legitimate voters who traditionally vote for Democratic candidates.” He added that: “If these efforts are intentional, politically motivated, and widespread across multiple states, they could amount to a criminal conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their constitutional rights.” He also decried True the Vote on MSNBC and CNN. …
The next month, in November 2012, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state’s environmental agency, showed up for an unscheduled audit at Engelbrecht Manufacturing. Catherine says the inspector told her the agency had received a complaint but couldn’t provide any more details. After the inspection, the agency notified the Engelbrechts that they needed to pay for an additional mechanical permit, which cost about $2,000 per year.
Since then, the IRS has sent two further rounds of questions to Catherine for her organizations. And last month, the ATF conducted a second unscheduled audit at Engelbrecht Manufacturing.
Catherine says she still hasn’t received IRS approval for her nonprofits, though she filed nearly three years ago. …
On behalf of the True the Vote and King Street Patriots, Representative Ted Poe (R., Texas) sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI, OSHA, and the ATF, inquiring whether the organizations were under criminal investigation. A statement on Poe’s website states that “the reply from these agencies was that none of these individuals were under criminal investigation. Well, if they’re not, why are they being treated like criminals? Just because they question government?”
… Other Tea Party groups decided not to form nonprofits at all after learning about her experience, [Catherine] says. “They were scared,” she explains, “and you shouldn’t be scared of your government.”
Meanwhile, Catherine says the harassment has forced her to seriously reconsider whether her political activity is worth the government harassment she’s faced.
“I left a thriving family business with my husband that I loved, to do something I didn’t necessarily love, but [which] I thought had to be done,” she says.”But I really think if we don’t do this, if we don’t stand up and speak now, there might not [always] be that chance.”
Her husband offers an additional observation: “If you knew my wife, you’d know she doesn’t back down from anybody. They picked on the wrong person when they started picking on her.”
The Washington Post reports that Steven T. Miller, the Acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, appearing today before the Senate Finance Committee, denied that he misled Congress about the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. He said -
I’m not going to disagree at all with the characterization of bad management here, but the actions were not politically motivated.
Jillian Becker comments: “There are few writers in the world whose appreciation of a political book is as worth having as Daniel Greenfield’s. Those who regularly read Front Page and his daily essay at his own website, will know this to be true.”
Imagine the UK Without Thatcher
With the recent death of Margaret Thatcher, one novel takes a look at a UK without Thatcher. L: A Novel History by Jillian Becker, the author of, Hitler’s Children: The Story of the Baader-Meinhof Terrorist Gang, is a modern 1984 taking place in an England fallen to the left. A country where the atrocities and horrors perpetrated in the east found their way to the west.
1984 showed us tyranny from the perspective of an ordinary man coping with the tyranny of an omnipresent Big Brother, while L takes us into the mind of Big Brother.
Becker’s L is a child of the modern left, attracted to the violent spectacle of revolution, feeding on blood and pain, gorging on the emotional spillage of the disgruntled, perpetrating riots, terrorist attacks and finally the mass starvation of the United Kingdom.
1984 takes place in the fragments of a lost history, but L develops its history out of the recent past. L doesn’t emerge out of a vacuum. He is the child of privilege, the student of leftist academics and the tyrant who rises out of the class warfare struggles of the burgeoning welfare state.
L abandons his name, going by a single letter, dabbling in dehumanizing Marxist theory while developing a cult of followers, the L-ites, who become the core of a movement that takes over the United Kingdom. L: A Novel History is as much about L, piecing together his inner thoughts from diary entries and newspaper articles, as it is about the milieu of the period and the more moderate figures on the left who hand over power to him and allow him to perpetrate his acts of terror.
As Becker notes in her introduction, there are historical precedents for L, for his associates and the fascist opposition that eventually allies with him. What she has done is transpose the history of various Communist atrocities from Russia and Eastern Europe into an England on the wavering end of the Cold War.
As a fictional history, L: A Novel History assembles painstakingly an entire alternate history in a metafictional narrative composed of newspaper articles, diary entries and historical speculation that combines the perspectives of L, his followers, the L-ites, his opponents, both genuine and disingenuous, and the people of England who react with bewilderment and then horror as the stores are emptied, the food vanishes and they are put through a brutal and degrading process meant to break their spirit.
L’s great obsession is the cultivation of empathy. Like most sociopaths, he is incapable of genuinely empathizing with others, but has a narcissistic obsession with the experience of emotion as spectacle.
Embodying the privileged empathy of the left, L promises to raise up the people, but instead degrades them, robbing them of their dignity, their humanity and finally their lives, in order to force them to identify with the sufferings of the less well off.
L is Big Brother given form, substance and motive. His resentments and narcissism represent all too well the modern left. Obsessed with image, L is driven to be a cult figure and succeeds in achieving true cult status at the expense of millions for his grand experiment in enforced empathy.
The UK has a long literary tradition of dystopias which imagine a descent into fascism, even as in real life it has continued a descent into Socialism. Jillian Becker’s L: A Novel History challenges that fictional narrative with a meta-fictional narrative that warns of what might have been and what may yet be.
May yet be in America …
The classicist Donald Kagan has given his last lecture at Yale, leaving it now in the hands of the pirates of education – the Left.
These are extracts from an article titled “Democracy May Have Had Its Day” by Matthew Kaminski in the Wall Street Journal:
Universities, he proposed, are failing students and hurting American democracy. …
On campus, he said, “I find a kind of cultural void, an ignorance of the past, a sense of rootlessness and aimlessness.”
Rare are “faculty with atypical views,” he charged. “Still rarer is an informed understanding of the traditions and institutions of our Western civilization and of our country and an appreciation of their special qualities and values.” He counseled schools to adopt “a common core of studies” in the history, literature and philosophy “of our culture.” By “our” he means Western.
This might once have been called incitement. In 1990, as dean of Yale College, Mr. Kagan argued for the centrality of the study of Western civilization in an “infamous” (his phrase) address to incoming freshmen. A storm followed. He was called a racist — or as the campus daily more politely editorialized, a peddler of “European cultural arrogance.”
Oh for some European cultural arrogance!
Not so now. Mr. Kagan received a long standing ovation from students and alumni in the packed auditorium. Heading into retirement, he has been feted as a beloved and popular teacher and Yale icon. The PC wars of the 1990s feel dated. Maybe, as one undergrad told me after the lecture, “the pendulum has started to swing back” toward traditional values in education.
Has it? Is political correctness outdated? Or becoming outdated? Isn’t that too good to be true?
Mr. Kagan offers another explanation [to the author of the article, in an interview]….
Actually, he’s Dr. Kagan. Or Professor Kagan (since we don’t do as the Germans do and string the titles together to make “Professor Dr.”). But for all we know Donald Kagan prefers the Mr.
“You can’t have a fight,” he says … “because you don’t have two sides. The other side won.”
He means across academia, but that is also true in his case. Mr. Kagan resigned the deanship in April 1992, lobbing a parting bomb at the faculty that bucked his administration. His plans to create a special Western Civilization course at Yale — funded with a $20 million gift from philanthropist and Yale alum Lee Bass, who was inspired by the 1990 lecture — blew up three years later amid a political backlash. “I still cry when I think about it,” says Mr. Kagan.
As he looks at his Yale colleagues today, he says, “you can’t find members of the faculty who have different opinions.” I point at him. “Not anymore!” he says and laughs. …
Democracy, wrote Mr. Kagan in “Pericles of Athens” (1991), is “one of the rarest, most delicate and fragile flowers in the jungle of human experience.” It relies on “free, autonomous and self-reliant” citizens and “extraordinary leadership” to flourish, even survive. These kinds of citizens aren’t born—they need to be educated. …
“Meaningful freedom means that you have choices to make,” Mr. Kagan says. “At the university, there must be intellectual variety. If you don’t have that, it’s not only that you are deprived of knowing some of the things you might know. It’s that you are deprived of testing the things that you do know or do think you know or believe in, so that your knowledge is superficial.”
As dean, Mr. Kagan championed hard sciences, rigorous hiring standards for faculty, and the protection of free speech. Those who see liberal education in crisis return to those ideas. “Crisis suggests it might recover,” Mr. Kagan shoots back. “Maybe it’s had its day. Democracy may have had its day. Concerns about the decline of liberty in our whole polity is what threatens all of the aspects of it, including democracy.”
Taking a grim view of the Periclean era in Athens, Plato and Aristotle believed that democracy inevitably led to tyranny. The Founding Fathers took on their criticism and strove to balance liberty with equality under the law. Mr. Kagan, who grew up a Truman Democrat, says that when he was young the U.S. needed to redress an imbalance by emphasizing equality. The elite universities after the war opened to minorities and women, not to mention Brooklyn College grads like himself—then “it was all about merit,” he says.
The 1960s brought a shift and marked his own political awakening. Teaching at Cornell, Mr. Kagan watched armed black students occupy a university building in 1969. The administration caved to their demands without asking them to give up their rifles and bandoliers. He joined Allan Bloom and other colleagues in protest. In the fall of that year, he moved to Yale. Bloom ended up at the University of Chicago and in 1987 published “The Closing of the American Mind,” his best-selling attack on the shortcomings of higher education.
In the decades since, faculties have gained “extraordinary authority” over universities, Mr. Kagan says. The changes in the universities were mirrored in the society at large. “The tendency in this century and in the previous century at least has been toward equality of result and every other kind of equality that could be claimed without much regard for liberty,” he says. “Right now the menace is certainly to liberty.”
Yes, and it is impossible to have equality of result and liberty at the same time. In other words, it is impossible to have socialism and liberty. One or the other is the choice.
His lifelong passion is Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War — the epic clash between those former allies, militaristic Sparta and democratic Athens … As Thucydides wrote, people go to war out of “honor, fear and interest.” War, he also said, “is a violent teacher.” Another enduring lesson from him, says Mr. Kagan, is “that you can expect people, whatever they may be, to seek to maximize their power” — then a slight pause — “unless they’re Europeans and have checked their brains at the door, so mortified are they, understandably, by what happened to them in the 20th century. They can’t be taken seriously.”
We would say “morbid” rather than “mortified” because of what they did to themselves in the 20th century. It’s a long slow suicide, but few Europeans heard in the public arena seem to realize it.
These days the burden of seriousness among free states falls on America, a fickle and unusual power. The Romans had no qualms about quashing their enemies, big or small. While the U.S. won two global conflicts and imposed and protected the current global order, the recent record shows failed or inconclusive engagements in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Some would argue that free societies are too soft to fight brutal wars too long. Mr. Kagan offers culture and political leadership as an explanation. “We’re a certain kind of culture which makes it hard for us to behave rationally when the rational thing is to be tough,” he says. “We can do it when we’re scared to death and there seem to be no alternatives. When it’s time to nail down something, we very often sneak away.”
Some would argue that free societies are too soft to fight brutal wars too long. Mr. Kagan offers culture and political leadership as an explanation. “We’re a certain kind of culture which makes it hard for us to behave rationally when the rational thing is to be tough,” he says. “We can do it when we’re scared to death and there seem to be no alternatives. When it’s time to nail down something, we very often sneak away.”
The protection and distance offered by two oceans gives America the idea — or delusion — of being able to stay out of the world’s problems.
Libertarians, please note.
Mr. Kagan also wonders about possible “geocultural” shifts at play. A hundred years ago, most people worked the land for themselves. Today they work for a paycheck, usually in an office. “Fundamentally we are dependent on people who pay our salaries,” says Mr. Kagan. “In the liberal era, in our lifetime, we have come more to expect it is the job of the government to provide for the needs that we can’t provide. Everything is negotiable. Everything is subject to talk.” Maybe that has weakened the American will.
Also don’t forget, says Mr. Kagan, “unsubtle Christianity” and its strong strain of pacifism. “Who else has a religion filled with the notion ‘turn the other cheek’?” he asks. … “If you’re gonna turn the other cheek, go home. Give up the ball.”
In 2000, Mr. Kagan and his younger son, Frederick, a military historian and analyst, published “While America Sleeps.” The book argued for the reversal of the Clinton Cold War peace dividend to meet unforeseen but inevitable threats to come. The timing was uncanny. A year later, 9/11 forced the Pentagon to rearm.
With the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the U.S. is slashing defense again. “We do it every time,” Mr. Kagan says. “Failing to understand the most elementary childish fact, which is: If you don’t want trouble with somebody else, be sure he has something to be afraid of.” …
His 1995 book, “On the Origins of War,” made a moral and strategic case to exert as much effort and money to safeguard peace as to win a war.
Thucydides identified man’s potential for folly and greatness. Mr. Kagan these days tends toward the darker view. He sees threats coming from Iran and in Asia, yet no leadership serious about taking them up. The public is too ignorant or irresponsible to care. “When you allow yourself to think of it, you don’t know whether you are going to laugh or cry,” he says.
The Kagan thesis is bleak but not fatalistic. The fight to shape free citizens in schools, through the media and in the public square goes on. “There is no hope for anything if you don’t have a population that buys into a strong and free society,” he says. “That can only be taught. It doesn’t come in nature.”
So does Donald Kagan have hope that “the pendulum is swinging back”? Towards variety of ideas and traditional standards in higher education? Towards liberty and an understanding of the value of liberty? Towards strong democracy?
If so, we wish we could share that hope, but see nothing to encourage it. He has switched off his light at Yale. Is there another?
We need to engage the argument raised by Mark Tapson in a review article titled Christianity, Islam, Atheism. It is also the title of a book he is reviewing. We have not read the book, and we trust him to be giving a fair representation of what the author says in it. We examine the ideas as Mark Tapson presents them to us:
Now that the Boston bombers have turned out, contrary to the fervent hope of the left, to be not Tea Partiers but Muslims, the media are spinning the terrorists’ motive away from jihad and shrugging, helplessly mystified, about the “senseless” attacks. And so our willful blindness about Islam continues. Nearly a dozen years after the 9/11 attacks, too many Americans still cling to militant denial about the clear and present danger of an Islamic fundamentalism surging against an anemic Western culture. What will it take to educate them? And once awakened, what steps can we take to reverse the tide?
The vicious Boston attack makes these questions and William “Kirk” Kilpatrick’s new book Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West all the more timely. [The book is] intended not only as a wake-up call to the West about Islam, but also as a practical guide, especially for Christians, to push back against its spread and to countering Islam’s Western apologists.
Christianity, Islam, and Atheism opens with a section titled “The Islamic Threat,” in which Kilpatrick describes the rise of supremacist Islam and our correspondingly tepid defense of Western values.
It is true that supremacist Islam is rising, and that the West is defending its values only tepidly.
Our collapse in the face of Islam, he says, is due in large part to our abandonment of Christianity, which has led to “a population vacuum and a spiritual vacuum” that Islam has rushed to fill.
None of that is true. The West has not yet “collapsed in the face of Islam”, it has just ceded too much ground. By “population vacuum” we suppose he means the shrinking populations of the European countries, which are importing population (the wrong – Muslim – population) to compensate for a shortage of workers, but whose socialist economies cannot provide enough jobs for the immigrants once they’re there.
As for “a spiritual vacuum”, it exists only in the eyes of these Christians who notice that once-Christian Europe has become largely non-religious. Europeans who still want to believe in a skylord have not shown a new fascination with Allah; most of them have stuck to Jesus or the Trinity.
It seems that a lot of prisoners convert to Islam. Some say that’s because they get better food and other privileges that the European authorities have been intimidated into conceding to Muslims. It may be, of course, that the cruel and blood-thirsty god Allah* exerts an irresistible pull on villainous men, but it’s a bit of a stretch to call that “filling a spiritual vacuum”.
“A secular society… can’t fight a spiritual war,” Kilpatrick writes. Contrary to the multiculturalist fantasy dominant in the West today, “cultures aren’t the same because religions aren’t the same. Some religions are more rational, more compassionate, more forgiving, and more peaceful than others.” …
That depends on what historical era you are looking at. Today most Christian sects are usually peaceful. But that hasn’t always been the case, and may not be the case in the future.
As for Christianity being more compassionate, sure it is in theory but again has not always been in practice. And whether compassion is as desirable a value as Christianity insists it is, remains philosophically open to question.
The same can be said of forgiveness. In our view forgiveness is not a very good idea. First, it makes no difference to what has been done. Second, and more important, it is contrary to justice.
As for some religions being more rational than others, all religions depend on faith, not reason. It is impossible to argue that one irrationality is superior to another.
Kilpatrick notes that Christians today have lost all cultural confidence and are suffering a “crisis of masculinity,” thanks to the feminizing influences of multiculturalism and feminism. He devotes significant space to encouraging Christians to, well, grow a pair, to put it indelicately, in order to confront Islam, the “most hypermasculine religion in history”:
“On the one hand, you have a growing population of Muslim believers brimming with masculine self-confidence and assertiveness about their faith, and on the other hand, you have a dwindling population of Christians who are long on nurturance and sensitivity but short on manpower. Who seems more likely to prevail?”
We take his point. We would be happy to see well armed muscular Christian men marching to war – literally, not figuratively – against Islam.
Kilpatrick devotes a chapter to “The Comparison” between Islam and Christianity, in which he points out that Christians who buy into the concept of interfaith unity with Muslims would do well to look more closely at our irreconcilable differences instead of our limited common ground; he demonstrates, for example, that the imitation of Christ and the imitation of Muhammad lead a believer in radically different directions.
Again, not always. Leaving aside the question of whether Christians killing other Christians and non-Christians believed they were acting as their Christ would have acted in the same circumstances, there were centuries during which multitudes of Christians “imitated Christ” by rejecting this world and deliberately seeking hideous martyrdoms. Some still do. As Muslims do.
In “The Culture War and the Terror War” section, Kilpatrick notes that Christianity is on the losing side of the many fronts of our own culture war, and this doesn’t bode well for the West’s clash with a resurgent Islam. An obsession with the shallow, ephemeral distractions of pop culture isn’t helping to shore up our cultural foundations. “Our survival,” he writes, “hinges not on generating a succession of momentary sensations, but on finding narratives that tell us who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going”:
“Our ability to resist aggression – whether cultural or military – depends on the conviction that we have something worth defending: something that ought to be preserved not only for our own sake but also for the sake of those who attack us.”
Yes. But that something doesn’t have to be the irrational beliefs and moral sentimentalities of Christianity. It could, for instance, be one’s country. And for Americans that could mean the high values that America was founded to embody, above all individual freedom under the law.
In the section “Islam’s Enablers,” Kilpatrick addresses the multiculturalists, secularists, atheists, and Christian apologists for Islam whose intellectual influences have contributed to the moral decline and Islamization of the West. In a chapter with the great title “Multiculturalists: Why Johnny Can’t Read the Writing on the Wall,” Kilpatrick comments on the indoctrinating impact of multicultural educators and their whitewashing of Islam and denigration of our own culture:
“[O]ur students would have been better served if they had spent less time studying the Battle of Wounded Knee and more time studying the Battle of Lepanto, less time understanding the beauty of diversity and more time understanding the misery of dhimmitude.”
We wholly agree with this statement. We too see multiculturalism as as an evil. We see Christian apologists for Islam as fools. But how are secularists and atheists – as such – contributing to the moral decline of the West? Mark Tapson does not tell us, and we wonder if the book does.
Finally, in “The Cold War with Islam,” Kilpatrick is pessimistic of our desire to win the hearts and minds of “moderate Muslims.” He examines at length just what that label actually means, and then notes that such a strategy isn’t an especially helpful one:
The promotion of the moderate myth is counterproductive because it misleads the West into thinking that its problem is only with a small slice of Islam and because it strengthens the hand of traditional Islam, which is the source of radicalism, not the solution to it.
Again,we secularists-and-atheists agree.
Then comes this:
What are his recommendations for mounting a defense of our values against the aggressive spread of Islamic ones?
Reviving the commitment to our own Judeo-Christian values for starters, and then, “instead of a constant yielding to Islamic sensitivities, it may be time for some containment. Sharia… should not be allowed to spread through Western societies.” He touches on immigration, noting that it’s a problematic issue but suggesting that it’s reasonable to question the motives and agendas of immigrant groups. The message we must send? “Islam will not prevail. The West will not yield. You must accommodate to our values and way of life if you choose to live among us.”
As for going on the offensive, “instead of making excuses for Islam… we should be devoting our energies to exposing its hollowness,” relentlessly sowing the seeds of doubt among Muslims and encouraging them to abandon the faith.
In all of which we heartily concur except “reviving the commitment to our own Judeo-Christian values”. To which we will return.
Finally, there is this:
Taking that to the next level, Kilpatrick urges Christians to undertake the daunting task of mounting a widespread evangelizing of Muslims, luring them to Christianity with the liberating message of the Gospel. He concedes that this is a long-term strategy and we have no time to lose, but “both Islam and the left stand on very shaky ideological ground… Christians should take courage from knowing that in this war of ideas, all the best ideas are on their side.”
Yes, Islam and the left do stand on very shaky ideological ground. But so does Christianity. Its theology to start with is so super-absurd that it’s a wonder the early Christians managed to sell such a bill of goods even to ignorant slaves and women in the declining years of the Roman Empire.
But what are the moral-philosophical ideas of Christianity? Let’s look at a few of them, the ones that contemporary Christians commonly say they hold.
To love all mankind? Impossible. An encouragement to hypocrisy.
Forgiving wrongdoing? Unjust. Kindness to the guilty is cruelty to the righteous.
Loving the sinner while hating the sin? A refusal to hold individuals responsible for their actions.
Acting humble? Self-abasement is an act of pride, not humility. Pride is not bad, but dissimulation is.
Teaching Christian theology and mythology as “the Truth”? Not only wrong but self-defeating, as doctrines were never even settled, disputes over them being the cause of wars and persecution throughout Christian history.
Omitted from the discussion in the review article is the fact that multitudes of Christians are also devout leftists. While it is true that the left is coddling and kow-towing to Islam, it is also true that Christian churches are teaching Marxism, often under the name of “liberation theology”.
To speak of a “Judeo-Christian” tradition is to ignore the hideous fact that Christendom has been actively persecuting the Jews from the time its gospels were written. What is meant is that Christianity, after some initial hesitation, accepted part of the Jewish moral code. But citing a “Judeo-Christian tradition” ignores the fact that Christianity was a revolt against Judaism, and owes more to Greek mysticism and cosmogony, Greek other-worldliness, and Greek religious rites – the unrespectable side of classical culture – than it does to Judaism. It also ignores the thousand years of darkness that Christianity brought down on Europe. Europe owed its greatness not to a “Judeo-Christian” tradition, but to the classical enlightenment Christianity eclipsed, and its eventual rebirth.
We too would like the West to be true to the values and practices of its highly evolved civilization, which we would name not as compassion, forgiveness, charity, love, but as freedom, democratically elected government, law and order, tolerance, reason, the pursuit of science, and an endless striving to make human existence happy, long, informed, exploratory, and innovative.
Its passed time that those old bug-a-boo superstitions, shrouded in the cobwebs of the ages, were swept away.
Enough of Jehovah, the sometimes over-vengeful, sometimes just, tribal-chief type of tyrant.
He was dropped by the Christians, though they might pretend that he somehow weakened and mutated into their God the Father or dissolved into the whole of their mystical Greek-style Triune Godhead. As God the Father he’s been so inconspicuous as to be best pictured dozing if not comatose these last two thousand years. Enough of him.
Jesus the Christ, whether as plump European baby, or as golden-curled Caucasian male model in a full-length white nightgown, or as a tortured body executed for sedition by the Romans on a wooden cross, or as well-nourished judge seated on a stump with a cloud for a footstool condemning multitudes to Hell, has nothing of interest to offer enquiring minds. Enough of him.
As for Allah with his side-kick Muhammad – the savage bully and his mouthpiece – he could be dispelled with more certainty and speed if the West would give up religion, and all respect for religion as such.
The downfall of the gods began quite some time ago and is overdue. (No nod to Nazism-inspiring Wagner should be inferred.) They – the gods – should all have disappeared in the Enlightenment. But they’ve been allowed to hang about far too long. Away with them.
Let the West defend itself with confidence in its intellectual, secular-moral, economic, and military superiority; with guns, drones, Specter bombers, and nuclear war capability; with science, technology, intelligence, and the Constitution of the United States; and always above all with unrelenting critical analysis of all ideas.
* Quotation from the linked source: “There are 493 passages that either endorse violence or talk about the hatred of Allah for the infidels, meaning all non-Muslims. The Quran is a book mainly concerned with how Muslims are to think and act towards those outside of Islam; that is, either kill them or force them to live as second-class citizens and pay [special punitive] taxes (Jizya).” It explicitly commands Muslims to “kill the infidel” (eg. Koran 9:5). It prescribes atrocious punishments for such “crimes” as adultery, homosexuality and apostasy. It is a manual of instruction in barbaric aggression.
Margaret Thatcher’s reign over Britain was a pause in the decline of the nation. That is the verdict of almost all the most insightful obituaries that have appeared since her death. She changed Britain, held it for a while as a model to the world of how capitalism can restore wealth and prestige, but did not succeed in reversing its downward trend.
Nevertheless she was one of the British people’s greatest leaders.
Mark Steyn writes:
In Britain in the Seventies, everything that could be nationalized had been nationalized, into a phalanx of lumpen government monopolies all flying the moth-eaten flag: British Steel, British Coal, British Airways, British Rail . . . The government owned every industry — or, if you prefer, “the British people” owned every industry. And, as a consequence, the unions owned the British people. The top income-tax rate was 83 percent, and on investment income 98 percent. No electorally viable politician now thinks the government should run airlines and car plants and that workers should live their entire lives in government housing. But what seems obvious to all in 2013 was the bipartisan consensus four decades ago, and it required an extraordinary political will for one woman to drag her own party, then the nation, and subsequently much of the rest of the world back from the cliff edge.
Thatcherite denationalization was the first thing Eastern Europe did after throwing off its Communist shackles — although the fact that recovering Soviet client states found such a natural twelve-step program at Westminster testifies to how far gone Britain was.
She [Margaret Thatcher] was the most consequential woman on the world stage since Catherine the Great, and Britain’s most important peacetime prime minister. In 1979, Britain was not at war, but as much as in 1940 faced an existential threat.
Mrs. Thatcher saved her country — and then went on to save a shriveling “free world,” and what was left of its credibility. The Falklands were an itsy bitsy colonial afterthought on the fringe of the map, costly to win and hold, easy to shrug off — as so much had already been shrugged off. After Vietnam, the Shah, Cuban troops in Africa, Communist annexation of real estate from Cambodia to Afghanistan to Grenada, nobody in Moscow or anywhere else expected a Western nation to go to war and wage it to win. Jimmy Carter, a ditherer who belatedly dispatched the helicopters to Iran only to have them crash in the desert and sit by as cocky mullahs poked the corpses of U.S. servicemen on TV, embodied the “leader of the free world” as a smiling eunuch. Why in 1983 should the toothless arthritic British lion prove any more formidable?
And, even when Mrs. Thatcher won her victory, the civilizational cringe of the West was so strong that all the experts immediately urged her to throw it away and reward the Argentine junta for its aggression. “We were prepared to negotiate before” she responded, “but not now. We have lost a lot of blood, and it’s the best blood.” Or as a British sergeant said of the Falklands: “If they’re worth fighting for, then they must be worth keeping.”
Mrs. Thatcher thought Britain was worth fighting for, at a time when everyone else assumed decline was inevitable. … [But for her and] anyone with a sense of history’s sweep, the strike-ridden socialist basket case of the British Seventies was not an economic downturn but a stain on national honor.
A generation on, the Thatcher era seems more and more like a magnificent but temporary interlude in a great nation’s bizarre, remorseless self-dissolution.
She was right and they were wrong, and because of that they will never forgive her. … For eleven tumultuous years, Margaret Thatcher did shock them. But the deep corrosion of a nation is hard to reverse …
Not just hard. Impossible. What great power that declined and fell ever rose to greatness again?
China had to turn to the capitalist model set by Margaret Thatcher to save its economy – which it did, spectacularly.
But far from acknowledging a debt, this obituary published in China belittles all her achievements, putting her whole career through the Marxist class-analysis mincer.
Petty, mean, and puerile, it is an exercise in Schadenfreude; sneer after sneer concluding with a spiteful joke:
Thatcher grew up in a classical English petty-bourgeois family. Her father owned two grocery shops in Grantham. He preached the word of God, was staunchly patriotic, and became the town’s Mayor from 1945-6. His self-confidence derived from selecting food that commanded a good price and turned a good profit. His daughter, Margaret, also formed her intellectual outlook around the petty proprietor’s fetish for the magical qualities of prices. …
Her marriage to Dennis Thatcher in 1951 elevated her into the ranks of the bourgeoisie. He had inherited his wealth and felt that business distracted him from dabbling in amateur military escapades. He was generally seen as a blithering incompetent buffoon to be shunted out of ears reach, in case some bigoted diatribe escaped his lips, but Margaret dearly loved him and treasured the life opportunities his wealth had opened up for her. Dennis funded her career change from studying the chemical composition of ice cream, to studying to become a barrister …
The 1960s were characterized by an entrenched social-democratic consensus whereby social and economic development was widely seen as the product of an alliance between theclasses. Employment was easy to come by and wages rose, and public housing, health care and education expanded rapidly. This all smacked of communism to Margaret Thatcher, who was allowed to bark vitriol against socialism to the gleeful cheers of her bourgeois-aristocratic colleagues in parliament.
The victory of the mineworkers against the Conservative government in two strikes in 1972 and 1974 led to an election, which the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, claimed would answer the question “who runs Britain?” He lost the election to a minority Labour government and Margaret Thatcher became the Conservative Party leader in 1975.
The shopkeeper inside her, meant she automatically gravitated toward economic theory based on price. Her ideology imagined a world of free and unrestricted competitive pressures where atomized individuals replace organized workers. The pathway to this free market utopia involved selling off state resources and public housing at prices that were absurdly low. This created a significant constituency within the working and middle classes who suddenly acquired money from nothing. In this way the shopkeeper’s delusion, that an economy is simply a nation of buyers and sellers, was materially anchored in the minds of those who suddenly had loads of money. In this way a significant minority acquired a material stake in Thatcher’s “property owning democracy.” Making goods and services was replaced by selling second hand bricks; producing coal, steel, ships, trains and cars was replaced by speculative instruments conjured up by a Thatcherite tribe of arrogant barrow boys who were encouraged to take over the trading floors of the City of London, elbowing aside the “toffs” in bowler hats, and revolutionizing financial markets in a cocaine fueled [?] speculative orgy.
So severe was the economic dislocation and the scars of social conflict that the government was thrown into deep crisis. However, luck was on the side of Mrs. Thatcher, as President General Galtieri of Argentina used their nation’s historical conflict over British occupation of the Malvinas Islands to launch a war to take them by force. Thatcher dispatched the British fleet and reconquered the Islands, whipping up a wave of jingoistic flag-waving. Riding a new tide of popularity, the real war began. Its objective was to smash the central core of trade union strength, the National Union of Mineworkers. Huge reserves of coal were stockpiled, the police were militarized, and war was declared on millions of British workers. Thatcher proclaimed the miners’ union to be agents of the Soviet Union. When she described them as “the enemy within” she had the look of hysteria in her eyes. The strike lasted a year and was defeated. This was a result of Thatcher’s determination and an impotent response by the majority of Labour and Trade Union leaders. The defeat of the miners union led to greater control by capital over labour and a long period of passive industrial relations.
The greatest nonsense is spoken about Thatcher’s significance in the struggle against what she called “the Evil Empire” of the USSR. The role of the U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher was insignificant and peripheral. Even though the Soviet press had given her the name, “the Iron Lady,” of which she was so proud. The collapse of the USSR was a result of internal disintegration and not external pressure. …
May the Iron Lady rust in peace!
China’s prosperity is the result of allowing private enterprise. It makes China a rising world power.
Margaret Thatcher died today.
Prime Minister David Cameron says, correctly, that she not only led Britain, she saved Britain.
Simon Richards, Director of The Freedom Association, writes to Jillian Becker, Council member of the TFA and editor -in-chief of The Atheist Conservative (as to all the other TFA Council members):
Margaret Thatcher: Freedom Fighter
So, the news that I and millions of other admirers of the greatest British Prime Minister since Churchill had long dreaded has finally come to pass. Let there be no mistake about it, Margaret Thatcher was one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.
Faced with a Britain in a parlous state, where defeatism and demoralisation held sway, Margaret Thatcher grabbed the nation by the scruff of its neck and gave it back its self-belief. Decades of socialism and growing state control had undermined not only this country’s economy, but its belief that it had a future. Margaret Thatcher, championing the values that had made Britain great, transformed this country and gave it back its self belief.
After years of surrender to the over-mighty trades union barons, she stood up to them, on behalf of the silent majority, and defeated even [militant trade union leader] ‘King’ Arthur Scargill himself.
When that murdering, drunken tyrant Galtieri invaded the Falkland Islands, she fought to regain what was rightfully ours, restoring pride in Britain and her magnificent soldiers, sailors and airmen.
Margaret Thatcher championed ‘freedom under the law’, realising that a successful society must be based on respect for the individual and for the family. An early collection of her speeches, “Let Our Children Grow Tall”, said it all about her determination to restore independence of mind and self-respect, and grow tall is what a whole generation did. Many, though they benefited from her revival of the British economy and her extension of ownership to countless millions, will never see fit to thank the great Prime Minister who made their own successes possible. That is for them and their conscience.
Maggie, as so many knew her, was, for me, the very definition of courage – the embodiment of Britannia. I shall never forget seeing her, a small, surprisingly frail figure, outside 10 Downing Street on 4 May 1979 – Prime Minister for the first time. That frail figure stood up to the IRA, the PLO, the Soviet Empire, the EU and anybody else who threatened the freedom and democracy she cherished. She made me – and millions of others proud, once again, to be British.
On behalf of The Freedom Association, which upholds that ‘Freedom under the law’ which she championed, I give thanks for the magnificent life of a true fighter for freedom. She will always remain an inspiration to those of us who value individual freedom and the independence of the United Kingdom.
Just so. We at The Atheist Conservative do not “give thanks” for her life, but we are grateful to her for all she did, not just for Britain – which was much – but for the world. Above all, she and President Ronald Reagan won the war against the evil empire of the Soviet Union.
The New York Times in its report of Lady Thatcher’s death, refers to …
…the principles known as Thatcherism — the belief that economic freedom and individual liberty are interdependent, that personal responsibility and hard work are the only ways to national prosperity, and that the free-market democracies must stand firm against aggression.
And this is also from the NYT – which one must remember is hostile to “Thatcherism” but gets this right:
At home, Lady Thatcher’s political successes were decisive. She broke the power of the labor unions and forced the Labour Party to abandon its commitment to nationalized industry, redefine the role of the welfare state and accept the importance of the free market. In October 1980, 17 months into her first term, Prime Minister Thatcher faced disaster. More businesses were failing and more people were out of work than at any time since the Great Depression. Racial and class tensions smoldered so ominously that even close advisers worried that her push to stanch inflation, sell off nationalized industry and deregulate the economy was … courting chaos.
No such disaster, but the contrary happened:
Her policies revitalized British business, spurred industrial growth and swelled the middle class.
And this is from the Telegraph:
Lady Thatcher was the only British prime minister to leave behind a set of ideas about the role of the state which other leaders and nations strove to copy and apply … monetarism, privatisation, deregulation, small government, lower taxes and free trade …
Alas, the victories she won were not to last. The war goes on. We have to fight the same battles all over again, with the same set of ideas, on the the same principles.
Post Script: Jillian Becker in her book “L: A Novel History” considers what might have happened to Britain if Margaret Thatcher had not succeeded in quelling the race riots, defeating trade union militancy, and returning Britain to a free market economy.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday, March 14, 2012, two potential leaders of the Republican Party described their visions of the Party’s future. (Videos of their speeches in full here.)
We quote from a report /opinion column in Time magazine:
The back-to-back pairing of Rubio and Rand was seen as the most significant matchup of the annual conference, pitting two likely 2016 Republican contenders before the party’s conservative base. The result pointed to the growing schism in the Republican Party between resurgent libertarians and more traditional Republicans.
The two men – Paul age 50, Rubio just 41 – laid out divergent visions of an inclusive Republican Party. Rubio called for a focus on economic opportunity and a muscular role overseas. Paul called for a reduction in the size of the U.S. government … [and for] the Republican Party to shift away from neoconservative foreign policy.
Actually, Paul did not “call for the Republican Party to shift away from neoconservative policy”. At least, not on this occasion. “Neoconservative foreign policy” means “the US acting in the world at large, including militarily”. The phrase also implies criticism of President Bush’s foreign policy which some libertarians and the Left believe was unduly influenced by “neoconservatives”. Time’s use of the word may convey, as some libertarians have intended it to convey, a flicker of antisemitism (though Rand Paul would almost certainly deny that he ever intends any such thing).
With almost all of what Rand Paul said we agree:
He warned that the Republican Party is “encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom”.
“The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered — I don’t think we need to name any names, do we?” he said, though the target, Sen. John McCain, was clear.
‘The new GOP,” Paul said advocating for … a smaller government …, “will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and the personal sphere. If we’re going to have a Republican Party that can win, liberty needs to be the backbone of the GOP.”
He pledged to introduce a budget in the coming weeks to balance the budget in five years that would also slash the income tax in half, and create a flat tax at 17 percent.
The contrast between the pair couldn’t be more obvious or consequential for the party struggling to remake itself after two straight presidential defeats.
On foreign policy we agree with Marco Rubio. In general we like Rand Paul’s ideas.
An unavoidable question is: could a more libertarian Republican Party still be the party of conservatism?
Roger L. Simon, writing at PJ Media, considers the question.
He starts on a personal note:
Last month my ninth-grade daughter attended a conference for the Junior State of America. Almost none of the high school students, she told me, caucused with the Republicans. A throng went to the libertarians.
He makes the same criticism of libertarians as we do:
I can’t totally identify as a libertarian, since I find some of their more extreme views silly. (Someone does have to pay for the interstate highway system. And Islamic jihadists are quite serious about a world caliphate. Declaring ourselves the purest of free marketers and rolling up the gangplank will not deter them in the slightest. In fact, it will only encourage them.)
All this is the long way around to saying that the problems creating the current dissension [among conservatives] stem in part from the word “conservative” itself. It seems mired in the past — even when it is not. …
Young people particularly (and even some older folks like myself) like to see themselves as oriented toward the future. …
What should conservatives do? Declare themselves to be “classical liberals,” which many are? That seems a bit academic.
Whatever the case, new terminology should and must be found. And whatever it is, it should be forward looking. …
Conservatives and libertarians — whatever they are now called — should market themselves as the party of the future. Respecting the Constitution is important, but something more than that is necessary.
We don’t think the word “conservative” needs to be replaced. Not in America. The United States was founded on the ideal of liberty. It is supremely important that it stays that way. An American conservative is someone who believes in liberty and will act to keep his country and everyone in it free. (A point implied by Marco Rubio in his speech.)
Respecting and defending the Constitution is vital to that end. If more is needed, it is in pruning away dead wood rather than tacking on “something more”.
Conservatives who drag in extraneous ideas – religion and stuffy views on sex, marriage, and drug control – are the element needing to be changed.
It is up to a new generation of Republican conservatives to effect the change.
There has been criticism of this year’s CPAC which we think is justified:
This is a condensation (which we quote from our own Facebook page) of an article by Robert Spencer, the indispensable expert on Islam. Read the article itself here for the author’s full explanation of why he is and yet is not a conservative.
I am generally considered to be a conservative. It is a label I have used myself, as a way of distinguishing my position from that of the liberals and Leftists who have generally sold out to the jihad, so blind in their hatred of Western civilization and the United States of America that they eagerly cast their lot with the foremost enemies of both. Nonetheless, for all that, I am not a conservative. Mitt Romney is a conservative. He called for the creation of a Palestinian state and said that “jihadism” has nothing to do with Islam. Grover Norquist is even more of a conservative than Mitt Romney. His conservative bona fides are impeccable as the leader of Americans for Tax Reform, but he also has extensive ties to Islamic supremacists, supporters of Hamas and other terrorist organizations that are sworn enemies of the United States and our ally Israel. So I must not be a conservative. Then what am I? I am an advocate of freedom: of the freedom of speech, of the equal treatment of all people under the law. Consequently, I am a foe of the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, which are enemies of both those principles. I know that there are many others like me, but neither party seems interested in us right now, and neither does the conservative movement, such as it is. It is time for a new movement, a genuine movement of freedom, one that is not compromised, not beholden, and not corrupted. Are there enough free Americans left to mount such a movement? That I do not know. But I do know that if there aren’t, all is lost, and the denouement will come quickly – more quickly than most people expect.
We sympathize with Robert Spencer’s position. We are equally exasperated by Romney’s and (far worse) Norquist’s position vis-a-vis Islam and jihad.
But why should they be allowed to define what conservatism is?
We define it as loyalty to the Constitution; to five core principles; and above all to the ideal of freedom on which the USA was founded.
The five core principles of our conservatism are: individual freedom, small government, low taxes, the free market, strong defense.
Islam is the enemy waging a war of conquest against America. How conservative can Americans be who do not even acknowledge that that is the case?
It’s past time for real conservatives to fight back with passion against its enemies: Islam, and the pro-Islam anti-America Left which managed to get one of its own elected to the presidency.
The Republican Party needs to freshen up. The re-election of President Obama in November 2012 came as a shock to many, perhaps most, possibly just about all Republicans.
What went wrong is the subject of a column by Scott Johnson at PowerLine:
Looking back at the election, it’s worth asking how we got here – because just about everything we thought we knew about politics and presidential elections proved to be false. Or at least just about everything I thought I knew.
First, that a reelection campaign is a referendum on the incumbent president – that was the fundamental thesis of the Romney campaign. Wrong! I bought it. The Romney campaign staked itself on the proposition that it needed to present Governor Romney as a plausible alternative to a failed incumbent. As a result they shied away from a comprehensive critique of the Obama presidency and from ideas generally.
Second, that a bad economy dooms an incumbent president. Wrong! The Romney campaign seemed to think that the bad economy and high unemployment by themselves made the case for Romney. …
Third, that Americans reject government dependency and laugh off the promise of government support from cradle to grave. Just look at the Obama campaign’s promise of life everlasting in its famous interactive feature The Life of Julia. They told the American public to “See how President Obama’s policies help one woman over her lifetime” and how Mitt Romney would change her story. It was It’s A Wonderful Life redone for the welfare state. …
So … how can Republicans learn from [the Democrats'] success? I want briefly to mention four factors.
1. Technological expertise:
In the realm of technology, the Obama machine crushed the Romney machine. Following the election, the Obama campaign actually put its playbook online – here it is — detailing the workings of the operation called The Cave. … an efficient and data-driven operation that correctly predicted the behavior of millions of Americans. At the same time, it maintained the flexibility to make real-time adjustment and produced votes. Romney’s Project Orca crashed on Election Day.
Technology also helped the campaign’s record fundraising efforts. … Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising e-mails. During the campaign, Obama’s staff wouldn’t answer questions about them or the alchemy that made them so successful. If there is such a thing as political science, I think the Obama campaign discovered it in its email fundraising. By a rigorous process of trial and error, they determined the most effective email subject line with which to raise money and the correct amount to ask for in order to maximize their return. …
2. Blackening the reputation of opponents – what we call “fighting dirty”:
The Democrats … have a genius for being able to blacken the names and reputations of men of the most sterling character — Mitt Romney is just one, and he was a dead man walking before he got the nomination.
Before he had even formally been nominated, the Obama campaign was running a devastating advertising campaign attacking his business record and personal character in key battleground states. I thought the attacks were ludicrous, but they did the trick.
Romney never responded. He never got off the mat. His campaign operated on the thesis that it was too soon to engage, that voters make up their minds at the end of a presidential campaign. Wrong again!
3. Taking notice of how the electorate is changing demographically:
Something’s happening with the issue of demography. The electorate in our presidential elections is shifting in a direction adverse to Republicans. The Republican consultant Jeffrey Bell has noted that, in the six presidential elections between 1992 and 2012, the Democratic Party has regained the solid popular vote majority it enjoyed during the New Deal/Great Society era from 1932 to 1964 — which it lost in the six elections between 1968 and 1988. …
If the country’s demographic composition were the same last year as it was in 2000, Romney would now be president. If it were still the same as it was in 1992, Romney would have won in a rout. If he had merely secured 42 percent of the Hispanic vote — rather than his pathetic 27 percent — Romney would have won the popular vote and carried Florida, Colorado, and New Mexico. They conclude that Republicans have a winning message for an electorate that no longer exists.
4. The issue of dependency – or the maddening fact that a lot of people want a lot of free stuff:
Something is happening in terms of how Americans view dependence on government, too. Beyond Social Security and Medicare, we have the continued growth of Medicaid, food stamps, Social Security disability, welfare, and, just over the horizon, Obamacare. … The number of Americans seeking entitlement benefits from the government continues to increase.
We appear to be undergoing a “fundamental transformation” that goes deep into our character. As we can see in The Life of Julia, President Obama promotes it as a positive good.
[President] Lincoln … asked rhetorically in one of his 1858 campaign speeches, in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and endorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form. What are these arguments? he asked:
“They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument …”
It’s as true in 2013 as it was in 1858.
In a recently published booklet titled Go for the Heart: How Republicans Can Win - and also in an article to be found here – David Horowitz writes:
After voters re-elected an administration that added five trillion dollars to the nation’s debt, left 23 million Americans unemployed, surrendered Iraq to America’s enemy Iran, and enabled the Muslim Brotherhood to gain control of the largest country in the Middle East, the one lesson Republicans should agree on is that elections are driven by emotions, not reason. Moreover, when it comes to mobilizing emotions, Democrats beat Republicans hands down.
Worse, Republicans appear unable to learn from their losses. Year after year, Democrats accuse Republicans of the same imaginary crimes – waging wars on women, not caring about minorities, and inflicting pain on working Americans to benefit the wealthy. And year after year, Republicans have no effective responses to neutralize these attacks. Or to take the battle to the enemy’s camp.
Horowitz believes that the central issue in any election is “caring“.
Before voters cast their ballots for policies or values they want a candidate or party that cares about them.
How crucial is this concern? In the 2012 election, 70% of Asian Americans cast their ballots for Obama … because they were persuaded that he cared for minorities – for them, and Romney didn’t.
The Republican response to the Democrats’ attack (that’s “class warfare rhetoric”) doesn’t work because it’s an abstraction. … [Whereas] the Democrats’ attack on the rich is an emotional appeal to those who are not rich. It tells them that someone cares about them.
Using the term “class warfare” is a polite way of discussing a problem, a habit Republicans seem unable to break. It avoids finger pointing – naming an adversary and holding him accountable. Elections are adversarial. They are about defeating opponents … about “us” and “them.” Democrats are as adept at framing “them,” as Republicans are not. Democrats know how to incite envy and resentment, distrust and fear, and to direct these volatile emotions towards their Republican opponents. …
An exit poll conducted by CNN asked, “What is the most important candidate quality to your vote?” Among the four choices were, “Strong Leader,” “Shares Your Values,” “Has A Vision for the Future,” and “Cares about People.” Romney won the first three by more than 54%. But he lost “Cares About People” by 81-18%. That says it all. …
Of course elections are divisive – that is their nature. One side gets to win and the other side loses. … Appeals to reason are buried in the raucous noise that is electoral politics. Sorting out the truth would be a daunting task, even if voters were left alone to make up their minds.
But voters are not left alone. They are barraged by thousands of TV and electronic media messages, which confront them with contradicting data and malicious distortions. These deceptions are not inadvertent. They are the work of the professionals who run political campaigns and who are hired because they are experts in disinformation and misrepresenting the facts. In the world outside politics this is called lying; in politics it’s called spin, and to one extent or another everybody does it. But Democrats do it far better and far more aggressively than their Republican targets. …
The Democratic Party has been moving steadily to the left since the McGovern campaign of 1972. It is now a party led by socialists and progressives who are convinced that their policies are paving the way to a “better world.”
This vision of moral and social progress has profound consequences for the way Democrats conduct their political battles. Unlike Republicans, Democrats are not in politics just to fix government and solve problems. … Their goal is a new order of society— “social justice.” They think of themselves as social redeemers, people who are going to change the world. It is the belief in a redemptive future that accounts for their passion, and their furious personal assaults on those who stand in their way. …
Republicans see Democrats as mistaken. Democrats see Republicans … as enemies of the just and the good. Republicans have no parallel belief that drives them and their agendas, and no similar cause to despise and hate their opponents. …
If Obama and the Democrats were interested in addressing the immediate economic crisis they would not have used their monopoly of power to pursue a trillion dollar new social program opposed by half the nation and by every Republican in Congress.
The reason the Democrats made Obamacare their priority is because they are social missionaries whose goal is to “fundamentally transform” the United States of America, as Obama warned five days before the 2008 election. Creating a massive new government program that would absorb one-sixth of the economy and make every American dependent on government for his or her health care was the true order of their business. This was a program they saw as a major stepping-stone on the way to the fundamental transformation of American society.
That’s the way progressives think and Republicans had better start understanding just what that means. Progressives are not in politics to tinker with the existing system … They are in politics to achieve “social justice” – to transform the system and the way Americans live.
Horowitz then raises and tries to answer a burning question:
Why do progressives not see that the future they are promoting – with its socialist “solutions” – has already failed elsewhere, and particularly in Europe?
Because in their eyes the future is an idea that hasn’t been tried. If socialism has failed in Europe it’s because they weren’t in charge to implement it and there wasn’t enough money to fund it.
It is the very grandeur of the progressive ambition that makes its believers so zealous in pursuing it. Through government programs they are going to make everyone equal and take care of everyone in need. They are going to establish social equality and create social justice. It is an intoxicating view and it explains why and how they are different from conservatives. It doesn’t matter to them that the massive entitlements they have created — Social Security and Medicare — are already bankrupt. That can be taken care of by making more wealthy people pay more of their fair share. In their hearts, progressives believe that if they can secure enough money and accumulate enough power they can create a future where everyone is taken care of and everyone is equal. Everything Democrats do and every campaign they conduct is about mobilizing their political armies to bring about this glorious future, about advancing its agendas one program and one candidate at a time.
No Republican in his right mind thinks like this.
Those who vote for Democrats want to be taken care of; want a government that would “care for every man, woman and child from cradle to grave”. And “Republicans are reactionary and hateful because they stand in the way of a society that can and should care for every man, woman and child from cradle to grave.”
Republicans take a view of politics that is fundamentally different. Republicans do not aspire to change the world. They want to repair systems that are broken. They are not missionaries, and they are not selling a land of dreams. …Because Republicans are mindful of the past, they are uncertain about the future, and therefore wary of impossible dreams. They hope for a future better than the present but they are mindful that things could be even worse. Many problems are intractable and will not go away. Because this is their attitude, conservative emotions can never be as inflamed as their progressive opponents’. Their instinct is to come up with practical plans and explain how specific problems might be solved. …
Republicans – or “conservatives” – can “never be as enflamed” as Democrats, and yet Horowitz urges them to behave as if they were, because “you can’t confront an emotionally based moral argument with an intellectual analysis. Yet this is basically and almost exclusively what Republicans do”.
The only way to confront the emotional campaign that Democrats wage in every election is through an equally emotional campaign that puts the aggressors on the defensive; that attacks them in the same moral language, identifying them as the bad guys … that takes away from them the moral high ground which they now occupy.
Start the next electoral campaign now, he advises Republicans, and put the other side on the defensive. Use the emotional weapons of “hope and fear”. Chiefly fear. Republicans must attack the Democrats as job destroyers. They must “frame them as the enemies of working Americans and the middle class”. They must pin the subprime mortgage crisis on them where it rightfully belongs.
The bottom line is this: If Republicans want to persuade minorities they care about them, they have to stand up for them; they have to defend them; and they have to show them that Democrats are playing them for suckers, exploiting them, oppressing them, and profiting from their suffering.
It’s a case that can be powerfully made:
Large populations of the African American and Hispanic poor are concentrated in America’s inner cities … [where] the unemployment rates are off the charts, the school systems so corrupt and ineffective that half the children drop out before they graduate and half those who do are functionally illiterate. They will never get a decent job or a shot at the American dream.
In these inner cities, every city council and every school board and every school district are 100% controlled by Democrats and have been for more than 70 years. Everything that is wrong with the inner cities and their schools that policy can affect, Democrats are responsible for. Democrats have their boot heels on the necks of millions of poor African American and Hispanic children and are crushing the life out of them every year.
But Republicans are too polite to mention it.
… Democrats will fight to the death to prevent poor parents from getting vouchers to provide their children with the same education that well-heeled Democratic legislators provide for theirs. This is a moral atrocity. This is an issue to get angry about and mobilize constituencies over. This is an issue that could drive a Gibraltar-size wedge through the Democratic base.
But Republicans are too polite to do that.
This is merely the most obvious atrocity that Democrats are committing against America’s impoverished minorities. Subverting family structures through a misconceived welfare system, encouraging food stamp dependency, providing incentives to bring into this world massive numbers of children who have no prospect of a decent life just to earn a welfare dollar. These are the corrupt fruits of Democratic welfare policies … Republicans criticize these programs as “wasteful.” They need to start attacking them as destructive, as attacks on the human beings who are ensnared by them.
The way for Republicans to show they care about minorities is to defend them against their oppressors and exploiters, which in every major inner city in America without exception are Democrats. Democrats run the welfare and public education systems; they have created the policies that ruin the lives of the recipients of their handouts. It’s time that Republicans started to hold Democrats to account; to put them on the defensive and take away the moral high ground, which they now occupy illegitimately.
Government welfare is not just wasteful; it is destructive.
The public school system in America’s inner cities is not merely ineffective; it is racist and criminal. …
Because Democrats regard politics as war conducted by other means, they seek to demonize and destroy their opponents as the enemies of progress, of social justice and minority rights. Republicans can only counter these attacks by turning the Democrats’ guns around — by exposing them as the enforcers of injustice, particularly to minorities and the poor, the exploiters of society’s vulnerable and the reactionary proponents of policies that have proven bankrupt and destructive all over the world.
All these ideas of Scott Johnson and David Horowitz – that the Rpublican Party must fight harder, dirtier, much more aggressively, appeal to emotions, learn lessons on how to campaign from the Democratic Party and stop being so stupidly polite (for which they never get any credit anyway) – are all good. But are they enough?
Scott Johnson makes an important point about demographic changes. Perhaps even more important are generational changes.
Our own view – or vision – is that the Republican Party should bend towards libertarianism to appeal to a rising generation of voters who don’t want government to interfere in their private lives. No laws against smoking pot. Stop the wasteful, unwinable and counter-productive war on drugs. Have nothing to do with questions of who may marry whom. Leave the issue of abortion out of the political discourse and out of the party platform.
Also: Learn and use Spanish, even let it be a second official language, why not? – English, the biggest and most used of all languages, will not cease to be the first language of America (and of all nations in their dealings with each other). Lift the regulatory burden on business. Put human activity above the preservation of animal bird and fish species. Go heavily for fossil fuel and nuclear energy. Keep church and state sternly separated, and positively encourage secularism. Add all this to the perennial policies of lower taxes, smaller government, market economics – and strong defense (the issue over which we conservatives part company with pacifist libertarians).
And yes, as the man says, learn to fight dirty. Attack. Be personal and ruthless. Engage with malice and fury every issue the other side raises. Accuse them of everything bad you can think of with passion. It can be done by rational beings when there is reason enough to do it. And there is reason enough. The Democrats must be put out of power.
On our Facebook page, Leila Howell Cook writes:
I would like to see someone write a good post on the differences between conservation and environmentalism because I think too many people consider them one and the same and they’re not. I don’t think there is anyone that considers taking care of our natural resources a bad idea. If we want it there for use in the future, especially for our children, then we have to preserve it now. That concept goes back as far as human time, I think. It just makes good sense to take care of what is around us and to try and not misuse it. Environmentalism is a politically driven movement that uses as its facade the concept of conservation but only as a smoke screen for a bigger agenda. To me, providing incentives for companies to adopt practices that don’t pollute is much more positive than limiting commerce. You catch more flies with honey. Educating the public on why they need to be mindful of resources and the positive benefits it provides is much nicer than being shamed into it. Education has always proven to offer the most progress in society – not the government acting as the mean nanny.
As we’re in full agreement with her opinion, and as she asks …
I don’t suppose the Atheist Conservative would want to write one, would you?
… we take up her suggestion.
Conservation is a conservative cause.
But conservation of what exactly?
We speak of conserving what has been achieved by our civilization: ideas and inventions from classical Greece and Rome, from the Enlightenment, from the Industrial Revolution, from our own Age of Science and the Computer and the Internet; and what we hold to be the greatest product of history, the idea of individual liberty under the rule of law realized in the establishment of the United States of America.
But the subject in hand is conservation of the natural environment.
Russ Harding, director of the Property Rights Network at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Michigan, wrote an essay in October, 2008, in which he came to the conclusion that conservationists and environmentalists viewed the relationship of human beings and nature so differently, it’s hard to see how they can come to any agreement or act together to look after the environment.
His essay is titled Conservationist or Environmentalist? Here’s an extract:
The impetus for the conservation and environmental movements may be similar, but the two movements have developed distinctly different value systems, the result of very different world views.
Conservationism, properly understood, employs traditional values of environmental stewardship. A good steward takes care of what has been entrusted to him or her, thereby leaving an inheritance for the next generation. This worldview allows that it is ethical to employ natural resources for the betterment of humankind, as long as they are properly cared for and managed with a concern for future generations.
It is permissible to cut trees, for example, as long as new ones are planted in their place.
Similarly, wildlife and fish can be harvested as long as they are left in sufficient numbers to ensure future populations.
Humanity is seen as an integral part of the ecosystem rather than an intruder in the natural world.
By contrast, the worldview of many modern-day environmentalists is much different. The mindset of such adherents is pantheistic – in which nature is deified and worshipped while the welfare of humans is prioritized beneath the animal and plant kingdoms and other aspects of the natural world.
According to this worldview, humans exist separate from nature and act immorally when they disturb or disrupt nature. Even the slightest disturbance – such as cutting and replanting trees – represents a violation of nature by humans.
Everything man does impacts the earth.
So let’s try conservationism. Conservationism recognizes that mankind is on the earth and is part of the system. It asks that we think before we slash and burn a rain forest in the Amazon and seeks to find ways of preserving forests and people.
The differing worldviews between conservationists and environmentalists makes agreement on environmental and natural resource public policy all but impossible. …
When clean air, water and land are not as important as protecting the sanctity of nature from human intrusion, agreement on practical solutions to real environmental threats becomes difficult. …
Let us hope that the traditional worldview of the conservationists prevails. A future based on the environmentalist worldview is too bleak to contemplate”
There are environmentalists who believe that the “health” of the planet requires the total elimination of the human race. (See our post Fresh wild raw uninhabited world, January 2, 2012.)
No ideal could be more radical. It is true nihilism. Those who hold it fail to understand that if there are no human beings, if there is no human consciousness, not only is there is no “health” or “sickness”, there is no “earth”, no “nature”. These are concepts, and (as far as we know) ours is the only conceiving consciousness in the universe. We are the namers and arrangers of our world, the inventors and granters of meaning and value. As well as using and nursing the physical world and other beings that it contains, we endow it for our kind with ideas and creations: language, knowledge, explorations, music, mathematics, inventions, artifacts, commerce, laws, institutions, philosophies, history, fantasies (including gods), and jokes.
To extreme environmentalists all that counts for nothing. Pfui! Away with it!
For the milder sort, we may exist as a species but in small numbers, disturbing the wild as little as possible, content to be little more than food for beasts or worms.
Environmentalists with their contempt for humanity are devotees of Leftism. They are not sure whether they want to control us in order to foster wild nature, or use the pretext of caring for wild nature in order to control us.
Conservatives are the real conservationists. A good conservative is a good conserver. He practices good stewardship by looking after, in his time, in his turn, the home he inherited and will hand on to the generations coming after him. The Greek word for a Home is Oikia, from which we get our words economy and ecology. Most of us want the house we live in to be pleasantly clean and in reasonable order. We want the greater Oikia wherein we dwell, the natural world that sustains us, to be pleasant too. We want the air we breathe and the water we drink to be fresh, the soil to be fruitful, the climate benign.
It’s enough. It’s good. And our huge planet, largely unpeopled, is not only oblivious to our doctrines and feelings, but also not much altered or long harmed by what we do.
It is a thing passing strange that many – a big majority – of the successful Silicon Valley billionaires, who achieved what they did precisely because their inventiveness and enterprise were nurtured by capitalism and freedom, vote for socialism with its restrictions and regulations, its discouragement of individual effort, its confiscation of wealth by punitive taxation, its infertility for innovation. The same could be said of the elites of the east coast, and wherever else the children of Liberty have grown to despise her.
How explain the cognitive dissonance?
Victor Davis Hanson explores the contradictions that are writ so large in California. He writes at PJ Media:
We keep trying to understand the enigma of California, mostly why it still breathes for a while longer, given the efforts to destroy the sources of its success. Let’s try to navigate through its sociology and politics to grasp why something that should not survive is surviving quite well — at least in some places.
The old blue/red war for California is over. Conservatives lost. Liberals won — by a combination of flooding the state with government-supplied stuff, and welcoming millions in while showing the exit to others. The only mystery is … how high will taxes go, how many will leave, how happy will the majority be at their departure?
California has changed not due to race but due to culture, most prominently because the recent generation of immigrants from Latin America did not — as in the past, for the most part — come legally in manageable numbers and integrate under the host’s assimilationist paradigm.
Which is to say, the melting-pot, that worked so well for a few hundred years.
Instead, in the last three decades huge arrivals of illegal aliens from Mexico and Latin America saw Democrats as the party of multiculturalism, separatism, entitlements, open borders, non-enforcement of immigration laws, and eventually plentiful state employment.
Given the numbers, the multicultural paradigm of the salad bowl that focused on “diversity” rather than unity, and the massive new government assistance, how could the old American tonic of assimilation, intermarriage, and integration keep up with the new influxes? It could not. …
There were, of course, other parallel demographic developments. Hundreds of thousands of the working and upper-middle class, mostly from the interior of the state, have fled — maybe four million in all over the last thirty years, taking with them $1 trillion in capital and income-producing education and expertise. Apparently, they tired of high taxes, poor schools, crime, and the culture of serial blame-gaming and victimhood. In this reverse Dust Bowl migration, a barren no-tax Nevada or humid Texas was a bargain.
Their California is long gone … and a Stockton, Fresno, or Visalia misses their presence, because they had skills, education, and were net pluses to the California economy.
Add in a hip, youth, and gay influx to the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and coastal Los Angeles that saw California as a sort of upscale, metrosexual lifestyle … and California now has an enormous number of single-person households, childless couples, and one-child families. Without the lifetime obligation to raise $1 million in capital to pay for bringing up and educating two kids from birth to 21 … the non-traditional classes have plenty of disposable income for entertainment, housing, and high taxes. …
Finally, there is our huge affluent public work force. It is the new aristocracy; landing a job with the state is like hitting the lottery. Californians have discovered that, in today’s low/non-interest economy, a $70,000 salary with defined benefit public pension for life is far better than having the income from a lifetime savings of $3 million. …
And with money came political clout. To freeze the pension contribution of a highway patrolman is a mortal sin; but no one worries much about the private security’s guard minimum wage and zero retirement, whose nightly duties are often just as dangerous. The former is sacrosanct; the latter a mere loser.
The result of 30 years of illegal immigration, the reigning culture of the coastal childless households, the exodus of the overtaxed, and the rule of public employees is not just Democratic, but hyper-liberal supermajorities in the legislature. In the most naturally wealthy state in the union with a rich endowment from prior generations, California is serially broke — the master now of its own fate. It has the highest menu of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, and about the worst infrastructure, business climate, and public education. Is the latter fact despite or because of the former?
How, then, does California continue? Read on, but in a nutshell, natural and inherited wealth are so great on the coast that a destructive state government must work overtime to ruin what others wrought. …
Somehow, in just thirty years we created obstacles to public learning that produce results approaching the two-century horrific legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. About half the resources of the California State University system are devoted to remedial schooling for underperforming high school students (well over half who enter take remediation courses; half don’t graduate even in six years; and well over half have sizable financial aid). … The majority of the once-vaunted upper-tier University of California campuses now resemble second-tier CSU of old. Yet I think a Fresno State graduate of 1965 was far better educated than a UC Irvine or UC Santa Cruz student of today.
The state’s wealthiest and best-prepared students are perhaps only well-taught at its elite schools — the two UC campuses at Berkeley and UCLA, Stanford, Caltech, USC, Pepperdine, or Santa Clara — while the poorer but still serious students increasingly enroll in the new private online and tech schools that sprout up around failed CSU campuses. …
The coastal elites unite politically with the interior poor … Along the coast, elites have harvested well California’s natural and acquired wealth. I’ll again just toss out a few brands; you can imagine the lucre and jobs that are generated from Santa Rosa to San Diego: Apple, Chevron, Disney, DreamWorks, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Hollywood, Napa Valley, Oracle, PG&E, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Wells Fargo, the ports of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Oakland.
So let us not speak of California decline, but of California’s decline and another California boom — one of 6% unemployment and another of 16%, one of $100,000 per capita income and another of $15,000, one of cottages sold on the first day on the market in Newport and another of vacant McMansions molding away in Stockton.
Success continues on the coast and is managed by very wealthy and mostly liberal residents of the sprawl that surrounds Los Angeles and San Francisco. For the five million or so who are enriched in enterprise zones like these — and there are thousands more spin-off and smaller such companies — life is pretty good if you keep your household small, inherited a house, or make enough money to buy something at about $500 to $1,000 dollars a square foot. In Selma, new 1800 sq. foot homes sell for $140,000; in Palo Alto, dollhouses go for $1.5 million. …
Coastal folk seem to view high taxes like Mafia protection money, but in the sense of psychological satisfaction and freedom from guilt. For now, sales, gas, and income taxes are not so high as to matter to those who voted for them, at least in view of the social and political advantages of coastal living: the beautiful weather, the Pacific panorama, the hip culture …
To the extent that “they” (i.e. you, reader) exist, the distant others are nebulous, rarely thought-about souls. Perhaps they really do enjoy polluting the planet as they generate the electricity, pipe in the natural gas and oil, refine the fuels, grow the food, and cut and haul the lumber that gives a Palo Alto or Santa Barbara the stuff to go on …
One of the questions I always hear from strangers: “Why doesn’t everyone leave?” The answer is simple: for the coastal overdogs there is nowhere else where the money is as good and the weather and scenery are as enjoyable. [But] yes, the middle-class small farmers, hardware-store owners, company retirees, and electricians are leaving in droves.
The Latino population, I would imagine, would be in revolt over the elitist nature of California politics. Of course, thousands of second-generation Latinos have become public employees, from teachers to DMV clerks, and understandably so vote a straight Democrat-public union ticket. But millions are not working for the state, and they suffer dramatically from the ruling Bay Area left-wing political agenda of regulations, green quackery, and legal gymnastics. It is not just that the foreign national illegally entered the U.S. from Oaxaca, but entered the most complex, over-regulated, over-taxed, and over-lawyered state in the nation — hence the disconnects.
Take energy. California may have reserves of 35 billion barrels of oil in its newly discovered shale formations, and even more natural gas — the best way to provide clean electricity and, perhaps soon, transportation energy for the state. Tens of thousands of young Latino immigrants — given that agriculture is increasingly mechanizing, construction is flat, and the state is broke — could be making high wages from Salinas to Paso Robles, and along the I-5 corridor, if fracking and horizontal drilling took off. Even more jobs could accrue in subsidiary construction and trucking. And for a cynic, billions of dollars in state energy taxes from gas and oil revenue would ensure that the state’s generous handouts would be funded for a generation. Did someone forget that the California boom of the 1930s and 1940s was fueled by cheap, in-state oil?
More importantly, our power companies have the highest energy bills in the nation, given all sorts of green and redistributionist mandates. The costs fall most heavily on the cold winter/hot summer interior residents, who are the poorest in the state. Those who insist that the utilities invest in costly alternate energy and other green fantasies live mostly in 65-70 degree coastal weather year-round and enjoy low power bills.
Yet the liberal coastal political lock-hold on the state continues.
No one in San Joaquin or Tranquility cares about a baitfish in the delta, but they do vote nonetheless for the elites who divert water from farms, put the poor farm worker out of work, and feel good about saving the smelt in the process. …
How then does the California coalition work, and in some sense work so well?
The coastal elite offers an agenda for more welfare funding, scholarships, class warfare, public unions, diversity, affirmative action, open borders, and amnesty, and in response the interior voter signs off on everything from gay marriage, solar and wind subsidies, gun restrictions, mass transit schemes, and the entire progressive tax-and-spend agenda. Most of this coalition never much sees one another.
The young Mountain View programmer keeps clear of Woodlake. He even has only a vague idea of what life is like for those who live in nearby Redwood City and make his arugula salad at the hip pasta bar in Palo Alto. In turn, the Redwood City dishwasher has an equally murky sense that the wealthy kid who works at Google does not wish to deport his uncle — and so the two become unspoken political partners of sorts. One of the state’s wealthiest cities, a gated Atherton, is juxtaposed to one of its most Latinate communities, Redwood City. But they might as well be Mercury and Pluto. Or should we applaud that the owner of the manor and his grass cutter vote identically — and against the interests of the guy who sold and serviced the Honda lawn mower? …
The liberal aristocracy is as class-bound as the old Republican blue-stockings, but saved from populist ostracism by what I have called the “hip” exemption — liberalism’s new veneer that allows one to be both consumer and critic of the Westernized good life, to praise the people and to stay as far away from them as possible.
California is a tired idea.
Is America a tired idea? Are Americans becoming tired of the idea on which America was founded - liberty itself? Do they really want a different America, a country more like socialist Europe? Or are they just blind to where their votes are taking them?