“For all their assumption of independence, girls of that class are used to the feeling of being specially protected, as, in fact, they are. This feeling accounts for nine tenths of their audacious gestures. …
“She had acquired all the appropriate gestures of revolutionary convictions – the gestures of pity, of anger, of indignation against the anti-humanitarian vices of the social class to which she belonged herself . …
“She was displaying very strikingly the usual signs of severe enthusiasm, and had already written many sentimental articles with ferocious conclusions.”
- Joseph Conrad (The Informer)
Quotations from the MailOnline:
Katherine Russell, the widow of Boston bomb suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was “an all-American girl who was brainwashed” by her extremist husband according to one schoolfriend. … At high school her personal motto was ‘Do something about it or stop complaining’. She dreamed of going to college and joining the Peace Corps. …
Instead she met Tsarneav, 26, a disenfranchised man who came to America from his troubled homeland of Chechnya who rapidly had her in his thrall. By the time she was 21 she had married him and borne his child, Zahara, now three. She had converted to Islam …
It would be hard to imagine a childhood more rooted in America’s pilgrim heritage than Katherine’s. It is in there in the names of the towns – Plymouth, Dorset, Greenwich – where many of her friends still live and writ large in the wholesome values of the one-time Honors student’s home life. …
The eldest of three daughters, to emergency physician Dr Warren Russell and nurse Judith, hers is a background steeped in the values of family and education.
She attended Daisyville Middle School, North Kingstown. As a sixth grader she is pictured smiling from the pages of the 2001-2002 yearbook dedicated to The North Kingstown Police and Fire Departments in the wake of 9/11 – a date, the opening dedication reads, “forever in our minds”.
An historical event of mass murder by Muslims, noted with all the right sentiments by this nice all-American girl, but without the least understanding.
Quotations from the Washington Post:
Three American civilians and three U.S. troops were killed in two attacks in Afghanistan on Saturday, officials said, including a powerful blast that struck officials traveling to a school to donate books. Among the dead was the first State Department diplomat to be killed in the country since the war began. The bloodshed Saturday, the deadliest day this year for Americans in Afghanistan, underscored how dangerous the country remains as the United States proceeds with the withdrawal of its remaining troops over the next 20 months, leaving security in the hands of Afghanistan’s fledgling army. …
The American diplomat killed Saturday was identified as Anne Smedinghoff by her parents. Smedinghoff was recently tasked with assisting Secretary of State John F. Kerry on his trip to Kabul.
Four other State Department officials who were with her, traveling to a school in the southern province of Zabul, were injured in the same bombing, one critically, Kerry said in a statement. “She was everything a Foreign Service Officer should be: smart, capable, eager to serve, and deeply committed to our country and the difference she was making for the Afghan people,” Kerry said. “She tragically gave her young life working to give young Afghans the opportunity to have a better future.” …
In a somber address to State Department employees in Istanbul, Kerry paid tribute to Smedinghoff.
There is no greater contradiction, Kerry said, between Smedinghoff’s zeal to “change the world” and help others and a bomber who he said drove a car into their vehicle. …
A contradiction? No. A symbiosis.
[Ann Smedinghoff's] parents, Tom and Mary Beth Smedinghoff … live in the Chicago area … “She particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with the Afghan people and was always looking for opportunities to reach out and help to make a difference in the lives of those living in a country ravaged by war,” they said. “We are consoled knowing that she was doing what she loved, and that she was serving her country by helping to make a positive difference in the world.” …
Tom Smedinghoff said his daughter died in the pursuit of a career she loved. “The world lost a truly beautiful soul today,” he said. “She was such a wonderful woman – strong, intelligent, independent, and loving.”
In fact, she did not die in a car. She was walking to the school bearing a gift of books, when an Afghan came close to her and exploded himself.
Quotations from the Weekly Standard:
State Department employee Anne Smedinghoff was killed in Afghanistan last weekend. At first reports suggested the young diplomat was part of an armed convoy that was bombed, but new reports say that she was actually on foot. And that the group she was with got lost on its way to deliver books. …
The security officials said there was an initial car bomb detonated by a remote device. Then a suicide bomber wearing a suicide vest appeared and caused more casualties.
What difference did Anne Smedinghoff really make to Afghanistan?
What difference can be made by any American, or any number of Americans, to Afghanistan?
What has America bought with the thousands of lives lost in this longest war in its history?
[Stanley Ann] Dunham gravitated toward an intellectual clique. According to former classmate Chip Wall, she caught foreign films at Seattle’s only art-house theater, the Ridgemont, and trekked to University District coffee shops like the Encore to talk about jazz, the value of learning from other cultures and the “very dull Eisenhower-ness of our parents.”
“We were critiquing America in those days in the same way we are today: The press is dumbed down, education is dumbed down, people don’t know anything about geography or the rest of the world,” said Wall … ”She was not a standard-issue girl. … ”
Obama describes his mother [Stanley Ann Dunham] arguing with her second husband, Lolo Soetoro. Soetoro had become an Indonesian oil company manager and wanted Ann to accompany him to various social functions with American oil company personnel. Ann refused arguing, “Those are not my people.” …
As with Obama, his mother’s generation of these pseudo-intellectual leftist high schoolers found a way to think of themselves as superior. … Dunham thrived in the environment … As much as a high-school student can, she’d question anything: “What’s so good about democracy? What’s so good about capitalism? What’s wrong with communism? What’s good about communism?” …
Starting in the 1930s the Communist Party promoted opportunities for “inter-racial” relationships among its members. The Seattle Times describes Ann Dunham’s attitude towards dating at all-white Mercer Island High School: “Dunham hadn’t had a boyfriend in high school, according to Maxine Box, her best friend at the time. So Box and others were stunned when Dunham wrote them to say she’d married the University of Hawaii’s first African student, a Kenyan named Barack Obama.”
A bookish outsider and only child, she was plunked down in Hawaii the year after it became a state by her restless father and her resolute mother. In her first months as a college freshman, at 17 years old, she got pregnant by her first boyfriend, an older student from Kenya named Barack Hussein Obama, who married her but left her when the baby was 11 months old. Twice, she married men from different cultures and races, then divorced them. With the help of her parents, she raised two biracial children as a single mother on the Pacific islands of two nations, got degrees in math and anthropology, spent years in peasant villages studying Javanese cottage industries, and pieced together grants and development work to make money and provide for her children’s education. …
Quotations from Godlike Productions (condensed from other sources):
In Hawaii, she married an African student at age 18. Then she married an Indonesian, moved to Jakarta, became an anthropologist, wrote a dissertation on peasant blacksmithing in Java …
“She felt that somehow, wandering through uncharted territory, we might stumble upon something that will, in an instant, seem to represent who we are at the core,” said Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama’s half sister. “That was very much her philosophy of life – to not be limited by fear or narrow definitions, to not build walls around ourselves and to do our best to find kinship and beauty in unexpected places.”…
“She was a very, very big thinker,” said Nancy Barry, a former president of Women’s World Banking, an international network of microfinance providers, where Soetoro worked in New York City in the 1990s. …
In a Russian class at the University of Hawaii, she met the college’s first African student, Barack Obama. They married and had a son in August 1961, in an era when interracial marriage was rare in the United States. Her parents were upset, Obama learned years later from his mother, but they adapted.
The marriage was brief. In 1963, Obama left for Harvard University, leaving his wife and child. She then married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian student. …
Those choices were not entirely surprising, said several high school friends of Soetoro, whom they remembered as unusually intelligent, curious and open. She never dated “the crew-cut white boys,” said one friend, Susan Blake: “She had a worldview, even as a young girl. It was embracing the different, rather than that ethnocentric thing of shunning the different. That was where her mind took her.”
Her second marriage faded, too, in the 1970s. …
“She gave us a very broad understanding of the world,” her daughter said. “She hated bigotry. She was very determined to be remembered for a life of service and thought that service was really the true measure of a life.”
All three good, broad-minded, liberal girls. Two of them married men of another culture to prove it. One walked among enemies to show how friendly she was. All of them wanted to be noble.
At least two of them were academically smart.
Joseph Conrad saw such Western, educated, gently-reared, idealistic girls as belonging to a certain class of which he wrote:
“Its own life being all a matter of pose and gesture, it is unable to realize the power and the danger of a real movement and of words that have no sham meaning. It is all fun and sentiment.”
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.
Daniel Greenfield – one of the writers we most respect, and on most issues agree with – argues against Rand Paul’s position on drones and the government’s possible threat to lives on American soil. (See our post Death or due process? March 7, two days ago.)
Rand Paul is anti-war, like his libertarian father Ron Paul. His views on America’s conduct of foreign affairs are like his father’s.
It is chiefly on the issues of foreign policy and war that we part company with most libertarians.
So on these issues we are as critical of both father and son as Daniel Greenfield is. But we do not agree with all he says.
There are Conservative sites that are positively giddy about Rand Paul getting positive mentions from John Cusack [Hollywood leftist critic of the use of drones] and [Maoist Communist] Van Jones. [Feminist pacifist] Code Pink’s endorsement is being treated like some kind of victory.
Are we really getting worked up about getting a pat on the head from the left? …
Even saner heads are calling Rand Paul’s filibuster a political victory. The only place that it’s a victory is in the echo chambers of a victory-starved party. And to Code Pink and Van Jones who are happy to see the Republican Party adopting their views.
The “brilliant victory” was that some Republicans tried to go further on the left than Obama on National Defense. Maybe next they can try to go further left than him on Immigration, Gay Marriage and Abortion.
And if that doesn’t work, Rand Paul and Jon Huntsman can get together on ending the War on Drugs.
On the issues of gay marriage and the war on drugs we too take a libertarian view. We don’t think that what people do in their private lives is the state’s business. (We notice that marriage is a fading institution, and so anticipate that all unions, whether heterosexual or homosexual, will become civil contracts of the same kind – leaving the religions to decide for themselves who may be married by their rites.)
On abortion our position is not conventionally conservative or libertarian. We think it should be rare and early. The law should speak on the matter only to set a time limit.
We cannot be for uncontrolled immigration as long as the host country is a welfare state.
Daniel Greenfield continues on the subject of drones, which, he says, was a smokescreen obscuring Rand Paul’s real cause:
Most Americans support using drones to kill Al Qaeda terrorists. Most Americans don’t know about the filibuster or care. Most Americans want political and economic reforms, not conspiracy theories.
The Paul filibuster was about drone strikes on American soil, the way that Obama ‘only’ wants to ban assault rifles.
This isn’t about using drones to kill Americans on American soil. That’s a fake claim being used by Rand Paul as a wedge issue to dismantle the War on Terror. Now that he’s manipulated conservative support for that, he can begin moving forward with his real agenda.
Rand Paul is on record as opposing Guantanamo Bay and supports releasing the terrorists. He’s on record opposing drone strikes against Al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, saying, “A perpetual drone war in Pakistan makes those people more angry and not less angry.”
This position is no different than that of his father. The only difference is that Rand Paul is better at sticking statements like these into the middle of some conservative rhetoric.
To which we say, endorsing Greenfield’s view: the belief, held by the far left and the libertarian movement, that countries hostile to the United States have been provoked to spiteful bellicose fury by American policies and actions, is wrong. It is ill-informed. America is resented for what it is – free, prosperous, successful, and above all powerful – not (unless in particular temporary instances) for anything it has done or is doing. Obama sympathizes with the resentment, and is doing his best to make the country he presides over less free, less prosperous, less successful, and much less powerful.
That the “war on terror” (ridiculous phrase but referring to something real) is not America’s fault, is the point on which we are in entire agreement with Daniel Greenfield. It is al-Qaeda, he says, which has turned the whole world into a battlefield, not America. And he is right.
Here, in the middle of Rand Paul’s drone rant is what he really stands for and against.
“It’s one thing to say yeah, these people are going to probably come and attack us, which to tell you the truth is probably not always true. There are people fighting a civil war in Yemen who probably have no conception of ever coming to America.”
The people fighting that “civil war” are tied in with Al Qaeda, including the Al-Awlaki clan, whose scion, Anwar Al-Awlaki helped organize terrorist attacks against America and was linked to 9/11.
“… We do know the U.S. drones are targeting people who have never pledged to carry out attacks in the United States, so we’re talking about noncombatants who have never pledged to carry out attacks are being attacked overseas. Think about it, if that’s going to be the standard at home, people who have never really truly been involved with combat against us. Take Pakistan where the CIA kills some people without even knowing their identities. … Think about it. If it were your family member and they have been killed and they were innocent or you believe them to be innocent, it’s going to – is it going to make you more or less likely to become involved with attacking the United States?”
This isn’t about stopping Obama from killing Americans. This is straight-line anti-war garbage.
“You know, or how much – if there’s an al-Qaida presence there trying to organize and come and attack us. Maybe there is. But maybe there’s also people who are just fighting their local government. How about Mali? I’m not sure in Mali they’re probably worried more about trying to get the next day’s food than coming over here to attack us.”
And a politician reciting Michael Mooreisms like these is supposed to stand for a “Conservative Victory”?
“I think that’s a good way of putting it, because when you think about it, obviously they’re killing some bad people. This is war. There’s been some short-term good. The question is, does the short-term good outweigh the long term cost, not only just in dollars but the long-term cost of whether or not we’re encouraging a next generation of terrorists?”
Is this the new conservative position now? That killing Al Qaeda terrorists only encourages more terrorism?
Are we all Paultards now? …
“Ultimately we as a country need to figure out how to end war. We’ve had the war in Afghanistan for 12 years now. The war basically has authorized a worldwide war.”
Not just to end the Afghan war (which should have been ended eleven or so years ago), but to end war as such. Absurd. And Rand Paul thinks that if America does not go to war, there will be no (international) wars. That belief is naive to an extreme.
And Paul’s statement that America’s going to war in Afghanistan “authorized a worldwide war” is totally false. Islam is at war with the rest of the world doctrinally. The attack by al-Qaeda on America on 9/11/2001 was an act of aggressive, not defensive war, and it was in pursuit of religous ends.
We will quote a little more from the Greenfield article, because his argument is about more than Rand Paul’s position on foreign policy, war, and drones; it is about Conservatism and the Republican Party.
This is Rand Paul’s position. It’s the position of anti-war protesters in 2002. It’s Barack Obama’s original position before he discovered that war wasn’t so easy to end.
If you stand with Rand, this is what you stand with.
Everyone can do what they please, but if you’re going to stand with Rand, then let’s be clear about his positions and agenda. And be clear about whether you share them or not.
No more dressing this up in “Rand Paul is standing up for the Constitution.” That’s the same dishonest claim his father made for years. And none of the even more dishonest, “Drone strikes on Americans in cafes” nonsense.
That’s not what this is about.
1. Do you think that the United States is murdering innocent Muslims and inspiring terrorist attacks?
2. Do you think that if we just leave them alone, they’ll leave us alone?
3. If you think all those things, then wasn’t the left, which has been saying all these things since before September 11, right all along?
Is Van Jones agreeing with you… or are you agreeing with Van Jones? …
The Left believes those things because they are on the side of America’s enemies and want them to win. Rand Paul believes them because he knows nothing about the world beyond the borders of his own country and mentalities beyond the limits of his own imagination.
The lesson that the Republican Party refuses to learn is that you don’t win by abandoning conservative values.
• You don’t win by going liberal on immigration.
• You don’t win by going liberal on government spending.
• You don’t win by going liberal on social values.
• And you don’t win by going liberal on national defense.
You either have a conservative agenda or a mixed bag. And Rand Paul is the most mixed bag of all, because the only area that he is conservative on is limited government.
If the new Republican position is open borders, pro-terror and anti-values, then what makes the Republican Party conservative?
Reducing conservatism to cutting the size of government eliminates it and replaces it with libertarianism. It transforms the Republican Party into the party of drugs, abortion, illegal immigration, terrorism… and spending cuts. And the latter is never going to coexist with a society based on the former. …
If Rand Paul is the future of the Republican Party… then the party has no future. …
I don’t believe that we can win through political expediency that destroys principles.
We tried that in two elections and we lost. Watering down what we stand for until we stand for nothing at all except the distant promise of budget cuts is how we walked into the disaster of 2012.
John McCain in 2008. Mitt Romney in 2012. Rand Paul in 2016. And what will be left?
To be reborn, the Republican Party does not need to go to the left. It doesn’t need to stumble briefly to the right on a few issues that it doesn’t really believe in. It needs to be of the right. It needs to be comprehensively conservative in the way that our opposition now is comprehensively of the left.
If we can’t do that then we will lose. America will be over. It’ll be a name that has as much in common with this country, as modern Egypt does with ancient Egypt or as Rome of today does with the Rome of the imperial days.
We agree that “to be reborn, the Republican Party does not need to go to the left.” And we agree that Rand Paul is wrong about foreign policy and the world-wide war.
But we do not agree that libertarianism is a creed of the Left. How can it be? The Left stands essentially for state control and collectivism – viewing human beings sociologically, as units of a herd.
The American conservative Right stands for freedom of the individual above all. The Republican Party stands for freedom of the individual, therefore small government, low taxes and the free market; for property rights, therefore low taxes and the free market; for the protection of freedom, therefore the rule of law and strong defense. That is the logic of freedom. Those are the values of conservatism and the Republican Party. They are our values.
We certainly do not want illegal immigration and terrorism. Nor to “go liberal on government spending”.
But we do think the Republican Party should bend further toward libertarianism. Not leftwards, but rightwards. Individual freedom must mean that individuals make their own choices, even if those choices are harmful to themselves. What they smoke and whom they bed with are obviously matters of personal choice – while government spending, immigration, and terrorism are matters for the state.
There is a new generation of young Republicans who are conservative in their thinking about freedom under the rule of law, but frustrated by stale authoritarian attitudes towards drugs and homosexuality. They are conservative in their loyalty to the Constitution, but impatient with the religiosity of most conservatives.
Some of them are forming themselves into a new caucus. They name themselves the Republican Reason Caucus. Read about them here.
We think they may, and hope they will, restore vitality to the thoroughly demoralized Republican Party.
Rush Limbaugh weighed in recently on the Republicans’ on-going debate about what went wrong in November. Elaborating on his earlier comment that he was “[for the first time in my life] ashamed of America,” Limbaugh said, “The Left has beaten us. They have created far more low-information, unaware, uneducated people than we’ve been able to keep up with . . . He added that the Democrats “control the education system . . . pop culture, movies, TV and books” and use that control to create “dependency” among voters.
These are extracts from an article by Bruce Thornton at Front Page. He endorses Rush Limbaugh’s lament. Both of them seem to think that not only has the Left “beaten us” in the present (“us” being Republicans, conservatives, anti-socialists generally), but that the Left’s victory is probably irreversible:
Some may think this is a dog-bites-man observation, but it’s worth looking more closely at the most important item in Limbaugh’s list - the educational system. Everything else Limbaugh mentions is made possible because of the deep corruption in public education from kindergarten to university.
We often focus on the ideological biases of the university, where the more lunatic examples of political correctness get the most attention. But in education as in economics, there is a trickle-down effect. The grandees at the elite universities train the PhD’s who go on to second and third tier institutions, where they in turn train the students who get high school and grade school teaching credentials. They also write most of the textbooks that end up in K-12 classrooms. Thus the progressive ideology metastasizes throughout the educational system, determining the curriculum, the textbooks, and the point of view of the teachers. At that level the ideas may be garbled, half-baked, incoherent, and a collection of clichés and slogans. But they are still toxic and effective at transmitting a world-view to impressionable minds.
When my kids were in public school I witnessed this process over and over. Questionable leftist ideas I had to sit through in graduate seminars turned up regularly in my kids’ English and history courses and textbooks. In the Marxist interpretation of history, for example, traditional historical narratives reflect the “false consciousness” of capitalism’s academic publicists justifying and “mystifying” a history marked by oppression and atrocities in service to a dehumanizing capitalist ideology.
The founding of the United States, then, was not about things like freedom and inalienable rights, but instead reflected the economic interests and power of wealthy white property-owners. The civil war wasn’t about freeing the slaves or preserving the union, but about economic competition between the industrial north and the plantation south. The settling of the West was not an epic saga of hardships endured to create a civilization in a wilderness, but genocide of the Indians whose lands and resources were stolen to serve capitalist exploitation. Inherent in this sort of history were the assumptions of Marxist economic determinism and the primacy of material causes over the camouflage of ideals and principles.
In the 60’s this narrative was married to identity politics: the defining of ethnic minorities and Third World peoples on the basis of their status as victims of this capitalist hegemony and it imperialist and colonialist mechanisms, which justified the plundering, oppression, and exploitation of the non-white “others” with racist notions of their natural inferiority. Various strains of postmodernism added a cultural relativism that put out of bounds any judgments of a culture’s values, since all such standards reflect the economic needs of the dominant power. Soon feminism added women to the list of victims sacrificed to the white-male power structure. …
Generations of credential students have sat in these courses and then gone on to teach in high schools and grade schools, and to write the textbooks and curricula that propagate this ideology. The result is a student population ignorant of the basic facts of history, the vacuum filled with melodramas of victimization, racism, oppression, and violence that cast the United States as a global villain guilty of crimes against humanity. …
So too with the movies, books, television shows, and popular music Limbaugh identifies as vectors of this disease. They merely reflect what their creators absorbed in school and what their audiences have been programmed to uncritically accept as true. Having been schooled in the evil designs of oppressive, greedy corporations that abuse workers and rape the planet, these cultural consumers are natural audiences for the plots of movies and television shows that recycle these dull clichés. Having been taught the evils of free-market capitalism that enriches the few at the expense of the many, they are natural constituents of a class-envy politics demanding the rich “pay their fair share,” which is nothing more than property redistribution useful for creating a class of political clients dependent on the federal government. Having spent years being indoctrinated with romantic environmentalism and Disneyfied visions of nature, they are susceptible to an anti-carbon politics that retards development of American oil resources in the name of “protecting the planet” from an apocalyptic rise in global temperatures caused by human and corporate misbehavior, a notion that barely qualifies as a hypothesis, let alone a scientific fact. But how could most products of our dysfunctional educational system tell the difference?
No surprise, then, that last year Obama won the 18-44 demographic––46% of the electorate––by about 15 points. This is the age group that has spent its whole educational career in schools that fail at teaching fundamental skills and basic information, but succeed at transmitting the progressive ideology perfect for creating conformist dependents …
Thornton acknowledges that some children “escape this warping influence “, which, he says, “is a testimony to parents and independent-minded teachers who are careful to counter this ideology”.
He concludes with a reminder of the Jesuit educational maxim: “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”. And he observes, “Today’s progressives get children until they are 18 and sometimes 21. That kind of influence is hard to match.”
And now the Obama gang want to start the indoctrination even earlier, with free pre-school education for all children.
Have Republican policy-makers thought about how to cure the Left’s corruption of the school and university curricula? Is any Republican leader or conservative organization likely to think about it? Is there a solution short of abolishing all state-financed and state-aided education (which Republicans are extremely unlikely ever to think of doing)?
If the answer to all those questions is no, then is Rush Limbaugh right that “we are beaten”?
Our hopes lie with the invincible liberating selfishness of human nature; with the “natural order of liberty” – which was Adam Smith’s phrase for what Marx called “capitalism”; and with the knowledge derived form both thinking and noting the history of the last hundred years that socialism cannot work so it will not work.
The Left’s victory – like the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia – may last as much as a few decades, to the extreme detriment of America, but it will fail eventually because its teachings are untrue, as all religious doctrines always are.
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?
The prime lesson of the last 100 years for political leaders and heads of government is: if you go left you will take your country to economic failure.
It is a lesson that President Obama either has not learnt, or has learnt well and wants just that result.
At his second inauguration (painful words!), “the apostle of the ever-expanding state” delivered “an ode to collectivity”. So Charles Krauthammer writes.
The media herd is stunned to discover that Barack Obama is a man of the left. After 699 teleprompted presidential speeches, the commentariat was apparently still oblivious. Until Monday’s inaugural address, that is.
Where has everyone been these four years? The only surprise is that Obama chose his second inaugural, generally an occasion for “malice toward none” ecumenism, to unveil so uncompromising a left-liberal manifesto.
But the substance was no surprise.
After all, Obama had unveiled his transformational agenda in his very first address to Congress, four years ago. It was, I wrote at the time, “the boldest social democratic manifesto ever issued by a U.S. president.”
Nor was it mere talk. Obama went on to essentially nationalize health care, 18% of the U.S. economy — after passing an $833 billion stimulus that precipitated an unprecedented expansion of government spending.
Washington now spends 24% of GDP, fully one-fifth higher than the postwar norm of 20%.
Obama’s ambitions were derailed by the 2010 midterm shellacking that cost him the House. But now that he’s won again, the revolution is back, as announced in Monday’s inaugural address.
It was a paean to big government. At its heart was Obama’s pledge to (1) defend unyieldingly the 20th century welfare state and (2) expand it unrelentingly for the 21st.
The first part of that agenda — clinging zealously to the increasingly obsolete structures of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — is the very definition of reactionary liberalism.
Social Security was created when life expectancy was 62. Medicare was created when modern medical technology was in its infancy. Today’s radically different demographics and technology have rendered these programs, as structured, unsustainable. Everyone knows that without reform they’ll swallow up the rest of the budget.
As for the second part — enlargement — Obama had already begun that in his first term with ObamaCare.
Monday’s address reinstated yet another grand Obama project — healing the planet. It promised a state-created green energy sector, massively subsidized (even as the state’s regulatory apparatus squeezes fossil fuels, killing coal today, shale gas tomorrow).
The playbook is well known. As Czech President (and economist) Vaclav Klaus once explained, environmentalism is the successor to failed socialism as justification for all-pervasive rule by a politburo of experts. Only now, it acts in the name of not the proletariat but the planet.
Monday’s address also served to disabuse the fantasists of any Obama interest in fiscal reform or debt reduction. This speech was spectacularly devoid of any acknowledgment of the central threat to the postindustrial democracies (as already seen in Europe) — the crisis of an increasingly insolvent entitlement state.
On the contrary. Obama is the apostle of the ever-expanding state. His speech was an ode to the collectivity. …
For Obama, nothing lies between citizen and state. It is a desert, within which the isolated citizen finds protection only in the shadow of Leviathan.
Put another way, this speech is the perfect homily for the marriage of Julia — the Obama campaign’s atomized citizen, coddled from cradle to grave — and the state.
In the eye of history, Obama’s second inaugural is a direct response to Ronald Reagan’s first. On Jan. 20, 1981, Reagan had proclaimed: “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”
And then he succeeded in bending the national consensus to his ideology — as confirmed 15 years later when the next Democratic president declared, “The era of big government is over.”
So said Bill Clinton, who then proceeded to abolish welfare. Obama is no Clinton. He doesn’t abolish entitlements; he keeps old ones and creates new ones to pursue a vision of a more just social order where fighting inequality and leveling social differences are government’s great task.
Obama said in 2008 that Reagan “changed the trajectory of America” in a way that Clinton did not.
He meant that Reagan had transformed the political zeitgeist, while Clinton accepted and validated the new Reaganite norm.
Not Obama. His mission is to redeem and resurrect the 50-year pre-Reagan liberal ascendancy.
And take it as far left as he possibly can. To mold a poorer, more subservient, more weakly defended, mediocre America under dictatorial government.
How far will Americans let him take them in that direction?
This is from Reason, February 27, 2008:
“I share about 90 percent of the views of most libertarians.”
So said the famous conservative William F. Buckley in a 1983 discussion when he “sat down with reason to discuss, among other subjects, libertarianism, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and the decriminalization of marijuana.”
The interview, which must have been interesting, is now hard to find. However, all we need from it is Buckley’s statement that he “shared about 90% of the views of most libertarians”, because we do too. But, like him, we still describe ourselves as conservatives.
Buckley was influenced by Albert Jay Nock, “whose elegant criticism of statism seems to grow more relevant with each passing day”, as Jonah Goldberg wrote in an essay on Nock in the National Review in 2009. Here are some extracts from it:
Albert Jay Nock … was one of the great men of letters of the 20th century. He counted among his friends and admirers H. L. Mencken, Charles Beard, Dwight Macdonald, Oswald Garrison Villard, Frank Chodorov, William F. Buckley Jr., and William Jennings Bryan (for whom he did some work as a special envoy when Bryan was secretary of state). … [He] was born in 1870 … in Scranton, Pa., and raised in Brooklyn, Nock was an autodidact who mastered numerous languages, including French, Latin, and Greek. He spent a good deal of his youth in a small town in upstate New York, where he imbibed from the wellspring of American individualism and gained an enduring appreciation for the power and magisterially ennobling competence of what we would today call civil society (he used the word “society” or “social power” to denote the good and decent realm of life not corrupted or coerced by the state). In 1887 he went to St. Stephen’s College (now Bard), where he was later a professor.
After college he attended divinity school, and he became a minister in the Episcopal Church in 1897. A dozen years later he quit the clergy and became a full-time journalist and editor, first at American Magazine and then at The Nation (which was still a classically liberal publication). In 1920 he became the co-editor of the original Freeman magazine, which, in its four-year run, managed to inspire the men who would one day launch National Review and the second incarnation of The Freeman, run by Nock’s disciple Frank Chodorov. …
He wrote a few books, including biographies of Thomas Jefferson and Rabelais. His most famous and successful works were Our Enemy the Stateand Memoirs of a Superfluous Man. But he was not prolific. As Chodorov put it, he “had a rare gift of editing his ideas so that he wrote only when he had something to say and he said it with dispatch.” …
Among virtually all of the political writers of the Left and the Right in the 1920s and 1930s, Nock shines brightest for seeing from the outset that the differences between the various collectivist schemes then circulating amounted to differences in branding. “Communism, the New Deal, Fascism, Nazism,” he wrote in his Memoirs, “are merely so-many trade-names for collectivist Statism, like the trade-names for tooth-pastes which are all exactly alike except for the flavouring.” …
A cold river of anarchism runs across the landscape of Nock’s work, but … he was not an anarchist, as many fans claim. … Nock understood that the state is not the “proper agency for social welfare, and never will be, for exactly the same reason that an ivory paper-knife is nothing to shave with.” Government intrusions “on the individual should be purely negative in character. It should attend to national defense, safeguard the individual in his civil rights, maintain outward order and decency, enforce the obligations of contract, punish crimes belonging in the order of malum in se [evil in itself] and make justice cheap and easily available.” Such a regime would amount to a government by and for the people, not a state in which the citizens are mere instruments of the statists. …
He denied that the state was the proper object of hope or a worthwhile agent of change. Moreover, he had contempt for the vast bulk of humanity, the “Neolithic mass” and those who spoke to them. In the dark, or at least darkening, age in which he believed himself to live (Nock died two weeks after Hiroshima), he cared only for the Remnant — a tiny slice of humanity he could describe but not locate. … the Remnant was his audience. At times, the idea of the Remnant is unapologetically elitist, but in a thoroughly Jeffersonian way. The Remnant were not the “best and brightest,” the most successful, the richest. Rather, they were those occupying the “substratum of right thinking and well doing” (in Matthew Arnold’s words). “Two things you do know, and no more: First, that they exist; second, that they will find you. Except for these two certainties, working for the Remnant means working in impenetrable darkness.”
And it is here that we find an explanation for why Nock is so admired by liberals such as The New Republic’s Franklin Foer and the New York Times’s Sam Tanenhaus: He openly embraced the idea that he couldn’t change anything. History was driven by forces too large to be affected by politics or punditry. Any revolution would result only in a new crop of exploiters and scoundrels eager to pick up where the deposed ones left off. So, Nock figured, why bother with politics? Now what more could today’s liberals ask for from a conservative pundit? …
He was wrong about many things, and his formulations were often too simple. … He bravely dissented from the overwhelming consensus that collectivism was the most desirable form of social organization. But he in effect surrendered to the same consensus that it was the “wave of the future.” …
He was wrong that statism was inevitable, partly because he was right about the need to speak to the Remnant. Buckley, Chodorov, and countless others took inspiration from Nock or from Nockian ideas, but they did not write for their desk drawers. They shared Nock’s fatalism at times — standing athwart history yelling Stop, and all that — but they actually yelled Stop. Nock did not believe in anything so crude as yelling, even in purely literary terms. His successors did, because they shared Burke’s understanding that “when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” Likewise, when bad ideas seem good, men who know otherwise must say so, lest society slip under their spell. That was the key lesson the disparate righteous took from Nock the Prophet as they associated to form the modern conservative and libertarian movements — even if, as Nock fully understood, they didn’t know where their ideas came from, or that Nock’s fingerprints were upon many of them. …
And that is why the Right is in so much better shape than it was during Nock’s time, even as liberals are mounting a statist revival. Yes, statism is on the march again, but anti-statism isn’t an amusing pursuit for cape-wearing exotics like Nock anymore; it is the animating spirit of institutions launched and nourished by lovers of liberty.
We are fascinated by this piece of history, glad to learn that “the disparate righteous … associated to form the modern conservative and libertarian movements”.
But is statism not the “wave of the future”?
With the re-election of Obama and the apparent weakness of the Republican Party now, we cannot be confident that statism is a passing phase.
Jonah Goldberg remains full of optimism. Here he is again with a cheerful view. We quote from an article of his at Townhall today:
American conservatism began as a kind of intellectual hobbyist’s group with little hope of changing the broader society. Albert Jay Nock, the cape-wearing libertarian intellectual … who inspired a very young William F. Buckley Jr., argued that political change was impossible because the masses were rubes, goons, fools or sheep, victims of the eternal tendency of the powerful to exploit the powerless.
Buckley, who rightly admired Nock for many things, rightly disagreed on this point. Buckley trusted the people more than the intellectuals … [and believed that] it is possible to rally the public to your cause.
It took time. In an age when conservative books make millions, it’s hard to imagine how difficult it once was to get a right-of-center book published. Henry L. Regnery, the founder of the publishing house that bears his name, started his venture to break the wall of groupthink censorship surrounding the publishing industry. With a few exceptions, Regnery was the only game in town for decades.
That’s hardly the case anymore. While there’s a higher bar for conservative authors at mainstream publishers (which remain overwhelmingly liberal), profit tends to trump ideology.
And publishing is a lagging indicator. In cable news, think tanks, talk radio and, of course, the Internet, conservatives have at least rough parity with, and often superiority to, liberals. It’s only in the legacy institutions — newspapers, the broadcast networks and most especially academia and Hollywood — where conservatism is still largely frozen out. Nonetheless, conservatism is a mass-market enterprise these days, for good and for ill.
The good is obvious. The ill is less understood. For starters, the movement has an unhealthy share of hucksters eager to make money from stirring rage, paranoia and an ill-defined sense of betrayal with little concern for the real political success that can only come with persuading the unconverted.
We have a sinking feeling that we are among the “hucksters … stirring rage, paranoia, and an ill-defined sense of betrayal with little concern for the real political success that can only come with persuading the unconverted”, though we don’t make money out of it, and we would very much like to achieve real political success.
A conservative journalist or activist can now make a decent living while never once bothering to persuade a liberal. Telling people only what they want to hear has become a vocation. Worse, it’s possible to be a rank-and-file conservative without once being exposed to a good liberal argument.
We are amply exposed to liberal arguments, but have yet to hear a good one.
Many liberals lived in such an ideological cocoon for decades, which is one reason conservatives won so many arguments early on. Having the right emulate that echo chamber helps no one.
Ironically, the institution in which conservatives had their greatest success is the one most besieged by conservatives today: the Republican Party. To listen to many grassroots conservatives, the GOP establishment is a cabal of weak-kneed sellouts …
Well, yes. That is how we think of the GOP right now.
It’s not that the GOP isn’t conservative enough, it’s that it isn’t tactically smart or persuasive enough to move the rest of the nation in a more conservative direction. Moreover, thanks in part to the myth that all that stands between conservatives and total victory is a philosophically pure GOP, party leaders suffer from a debilitating lack of trust — some of it well earned — from the rank and file.
But politics is about persuasion, and a party consumed by the need to prove its purity to its base is going to have a very hard time proving anything else to the rest of the country.
We applaud – and often quote – conservative and libertarian writers who attract millions of readers and may be persuading them.
And eagerly – though full of misgiving – we await their success: await the defeat of collectivist statism; the fall from power of the now far left Democratic Party; the final disappointment of the world government fans and the Big Green fanatics; the enlightenment of feminists and pacifists; the stopping of the Islamic onslaught on the West.
And the regeneration of the GOP.
As everybody knows, a short video purporting to be the trailer for a film that was apparently never made, and which hardly anyone noticed for months, was publicly blamed by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and White House spokesman Jay Carney, for an outbreak of anti-US riots in Islamic countries, and for the murder of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11.
The filmlet – puzzlingly titled “Innocence of Muslims” – mocks the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet Muhammad is a mythical construct (even if based on one or more obscure historical figures of the 7th century), made by his inventors in accordance with their own ideals as an intolerant mass-murdering lecher. And that’s how the filmlet depicts him.
For making it, a small-time hoodlum named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been put in prison. Ostensibly his criminal offense is breaking terms of parole in trivial harmless ways such as going on the internet, but in fact he is a political prisoner who used his Constitutionally granted freedom of speech to say something the regime that now rules the United States of America does not like.
(For more about the video, Nakoula, the riots and how the video was used to stoke them up, see our posts: Muslim evil rising, September 13, 2012; Islam explodes, and Obama lit the fuse, September 14, 2012; The pretext giver, September 15, 2012; To make a mocking movie, September 23, 2012; Muslims made the anti-Muhammad video?, September 26, 2012.)
This is from PowerLine by John Hinderaker:
Liberal support for free speech has been waning for a long time, and at present it seems to be just about extinct. The latest evidence is a story in today’s New York Times about Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man who made the video that was falsely blamed for the Benghazi attack, and has languished in jail for the last two months as a result. One might think that the Times would regard jailing a man for exercising his First Amendment rights as an outrage requiring daily denunciations, but no – the tone of the article, by Serge Kovaleski and Brooks Barnes, suggests that Nakoula deserved what he got.
Start with the article’s title: “From Man Who Insulted Muhammad, No Regret.” The Times finds it remarkable that Nakoula isn’t penitent:
“Fuming for two months in a jail cell here, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has had plenty of time to reconsider the wisdom of making ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ his crude YouTube movie trailer depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a bloodthirsty, philandering thug.”
So is America now a country where we imprison people so they can rethink the wisdom of making a video with the wrong political point of view? Apparently the Times thinks so; there is strong evidence that Barack Obama does, too.
“Does Mr. Nakoula now regret the footage? After all, it fueled deadly protests across the Islamic world and led the unlikely filmmaker to his own arrest for violating his supervised release on a fraud conviction. Not at all. In his first public comments since his incarceration soon after the video gained international attention in September, Mr. Nakoula told The New York Times that he would go to great lengths to convey what he called ‘the actual truth’ about Muhammad.”
Which raises an interesting point. I have never seen anyone comment on the historical accuracy of Nakoula’s film (assuming that anyone has actually seen it) or the YouTube trailer. Muhammad was, in fact, a “bloodthirsty, philandering thug.” You could say worse things about him than that without straying from the truth. But this question is not one that the Times, or any other media outlet I am aware of, has seen fit to explore.
The Times tries to keep alive the fiction that Nakoula’s video might have had something to do with the Benghazi attack:
“There is a dispute about how important the video was in provoking the terrorist assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the United States ambassador and three other Americans.”
Actually, I don’t think there is any dispute at all. To my knowledge, there is zero evidence that the Ansar al-Sharia terrorists who carried out the attack knew or cared about Nakoula’s video.
The main point of the Times article – the only point, really – is to establish that Nakoula is disreputable and untrustworthy. But this is an odd perspective to take on what appears to be an extraordinary violation of the First Amendment – jailing a man for political speech regarded as inconvenient by the Obama administration. …
The Obama administration doesn’t even pretend that Nakoula was imprisoned for any reason other than as punishment for his impermissible speech. Recall Charles Woods [father of Tyrone Woods, one of the Americans murdered in Benghazi] recounting how Hillary Clinton approached him at his son’s memorial and said, “We’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.” And it is blindingly obvious that tossing a probationer in the slammer for using an alias and accessing the internet, notwithstanding that those actions violated the terms of his probation, is not standard practice.
The writer asks -
In the view of the New York Times, is the First Amendment reserved for the honest and the respectable?
And comments -
That certainly wasn’t the Left’s position when Communists were availing themselves of the bourgeois right of free speech.
Now, it seems, it may be reserved for those who submit to Obama and Islam.
In fact, the New York Times and American “liberals” in general have been against freedom as such for a long time now. Collectivists calling themselves liberal - in the manner described by George Orwell as Newspeak - is like Communist tyrannies commonly calling themselves People’s Democratic Republics. Or the main party of the Left in America calling itself the Democratic Party.
11/29/12. The real name of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula may have finally emerged. Fox News reports:
An Egyptian court convicted in absentia Wednesday seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world [ie had been used to spark riots]. … The man behind the film, Mark Basseley Youssef, is among those convicted. He was sentenced in a California court earlier this month to a year in federal prison for probation violations in an unrelated matter. Youssef, 55, admitted that he had used several false names in violation of his probation order and obtained a driver’s license under a false name. He was on probation for a bank fraud case.
Do not miss Mark Steyn’s column on Obama’s Big Government handling of Hurricane Sandy and the Benghazi crisis.
Each of Mark Steyn’s columns as it appears seems to be his best ever. This one is no exception.
Here’s a slice of it to taste:
In political terms, Hurricane Sandy and the Benghazi consulate debacle exemplify at home and abroad the fundamental unseriousness of the United States in the Obama era. In the days after Sandy hit, Barack Obama was generally agreed to have performed well. He had himself photographed in the White House Situation Room, nodding thoughtfully to bureaucrats (“John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; David Agnew, Director for Intergovernmental Affairs”) and Tweeted it to his 3.2 million followers. He appeared in New Jersey wearing a bomber jacket rather than a suit to demonstrate that when the going gets tough the tough get out a monogrammed Air Force One bomber jacket. He announced that he’d instructed his officials to answer all calls within 15 minutes because in America “we leave nobody behind.” By doing all this, the president “shows” he “cares” – which is true in the sense that in Benghazi he was willing to leave the entire consulate staff behind, and nobody had their calls answered within seven hours, because presumably he didn’t care. So John Brennan, the Counterterrorism guy, and Tony Blinken, the National Security honcho, briefed the president on the stiff breeze, but on Sept. 11, 2012, when a little counterterrorism was called for, nobody bothered calling the Counterterrorism Security Group, the senior U.S. counterterrorism bureaucracy. …
No hurricane hit my county. Indeed, no hurricane hit New Hampshire. No hurricane hit “17 states,” the number of states supposedly “affected” by Sandy at its peak. A hurricane hit a few coastal counties of New Jersey, New York and a couple of other states, and that’s it. Everyone else had slightly windier-than-usual wind – and yet they were out of power for days … because of a decrepit and vulnerable above-the-ground electrical distribution system that ought to be a national embarrassment to any developed society. …
Our government is more expensive than any government in history – and we have nothing to show for it. … One Obama [stimulus] bill spent a little shy of a trillion dollars, and no one can point to a single thing it built. Washington … spends $188 million an hour that it doesn’t have … And yet, mysteriously, multitrillion-dollar Big Government Obama-style can’t do anything except sluice food stamps to the dependent class, lavish benefits and early retirement packages to the bureaucrats that service them, and so-called government “investment” to approved Obama cronies.
So you can have Big Government bigger (or, anyway, more expensive) than any government’s ever been, and the lights still go out in 17 states – because your president spent 6 trillion bucks, and all the country got was a lousy Air Force One bomber jacket for him to wear while posing for a Twitpic answering the phone with his concerned expression.
Even in those few parts of the Northeast that can legitimately claim to have been clobbered by Sandy, Big Government made it worse. Last week, Nanny Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, rivaled his own personal best for worst mayoral performance … This is a man who spends his days micromanaging the amount of soda New Yorkers are allowed to have in their beverage containers rather than, say, the amount of ocean New Yorkers are allowed to have in their subway system … Imagine if this preening buffoon had expended as much executive energy on flood protection for the electrical grid and transit system as he does on approved quantities of carbonated beverages. But that’s leadership 21st-century style: When the going gets tough, the tough ban trans fats.
Back in Benghazi, the president who looks so cool in a bomber jacket declined to answer his beleaguered diplomats’ calls for help – even though he had aircraft and Special Forces in the region. Too bad. He’s all jacket and no bombers. This, too, is an example of America’s uniquely profligate impotence. When something goes screwy at a ramshackle consulate halfway round the globe, very few governments have the technological capacity to watch it unfold in real time. Even fewer have deployable military assets only a couple of hours away. What is the point of unmanned drones, of military bases around the planet, of elite Special Forces trained to the peak of perfection if the president and the vast bloated federal bureaucracy cannot rouse themselves to action? What is the point of outspending Russia, Britain, France, China, Germany and every middle-rank military power combined if, when it matters, America cannot urge into the air one plane with a couple of dozen commandoes? … In Washington the head of the world’s biggest “counterterrorism” bureaucracy briefs the president on flood damage and downed trees. …
Barack Obama and Joe Biden won’t even try [to fix things] … therefore a vote for Obama is a vote for the certainty of national collapse. Look at Lower Manhattan in the dark, and try to imagine what America might look like after the rest of the planet decides it no longer needs the dollar as global reserve currency. For four years, we have had a president who can spend everything but build nothing. Nothing but debt, dependency, and decay.
So vote the wind-bags out. Obama and Biden.
And treat yourself. Read it all. It’s very funny and at the same time very serious – which, as its author says, the Obama administration is not. And the American electorate must decide whether to get serious in time to save itself.
In different ways the response to Hurricane Sandy and Benghazi exemplify the fundamental unseriousness of the superpower at twilight. Whether or not to get serious is the choice facing the electorate Tuesday.
But let him keep the bomber jacket.
The revolutionaries who founded the United States of America were willing to kill and die to establish a Republic in which all would be free. The First Amendment, enshrining the principle of free speech, was passed on December 15, 1791, two and a half years after the final ratification of the Constitution on June 24, 1787.
Are there still Americans willing to kill and die to preserve freedom? They may be found in the armed forces, but are there any in government? Or among those who vote for a government which urges the nation to submit to an aggressive enemy of freedom?
[That America] remains one of the very few places in the world, even among Western democracies, where freedom of speech is absolute, came about through stirring speeches, deeply felt debates, classical ideas and a passionate political culture — but most of all it came about because large numbers of people were willing to kill over it.
Currently large numbers of people are willing to kill over the idea that Islam is the supreme religion, that Mohammed is a deity whom all mankind should respect and that the infidels living in the suburban sprawl of a thoroughly explored continent should accept that or die. Our government calls those people a tiny minority of extremists. Our unofficial name for them is, “Muslims.”
Laws are decided by many things, but sweep away all the lawbooks, the pleas from tearful mothers, the timed publicity campaigns, the novel legal theories and the greedy bureaucrats expanding their turf, and under the table you will find a gun. The first and final law is still the law of force.The law begins with the power to impose its will on others. It ends with the enforcement of that power.
Law either has force behind it or it does not, and if it has no force behind it then it is an optional thing that is subject to custom. And every now and then the law is challenged, not with novel legal theories or with petitions, but with force, and it either responds with force or submits to a new law. That is what we call revolution.
Islam has made laws that it expects all of mankind to abide by. These laws are not backed by novel legal theories or by petitions, though its practitioners are willing to offer both, they are backed by the naked practice of force. And the imposition of these laws can only be defended against by force. …
The lawyers who run all our national affairs have chosen to respond to the Islamic legal briefs of bombs and bullets with the equivocation with which they meet all difficult questions. They will not abandon the principle of freedom of speech, but they will lock up the filmmaker whose imprisonment the murderous Muslim legalists called for. They will not censor YouTube, but they will encourage YouTube to censor itself. They will not ban speech that offends Islam, but they will strongly condemn and discourage it.
These equivocators offer to abandon the practice of freedom so long as they are allowed to retain the theory of freedom. The Bill of Rights will not change, but as in the Soviet Union it will not apply. The authorities will pay lip service to the freedoms that we only think we have until we actually try to use them and then we will discover that we don’t actually have any of these freedoms left in stock.
In theory America will be an independent country, in practice it will be a vassal state of the Muslim world whose displays of outrage will be our law telling us what we can and cannot say, what we can and cannot think, and what we can and cannot do.
This is the typical kind of bargain that decadent empires make with the barbarous warlords on their doorstep. The empire will keep its splendor and its titles, while the barbarians will tell the empire what to do. …
A demand for a code of conduct backed by violence is law. It is not our law, it is not the law of the civilized man, but it is the law that we are slowly adopting. It is the law of the decadents appeasing the savages. …
Under this code, Muslim violence dictates our permissible forms of speech. To know whether a thing may be said, drawn or filmed, we must first determine how Muslims will react to it. If they will react with violence, as they do to a sizable percentage of things, then it becomes incitement, retroactively, that must be punished and condemned.
Muslim violence has become our law. It is the law of action which determines our laws of speech. To understand what we can say, we first have to decide what Muslims will do about it. …
When we were revolutionaries, our government saw force as a way of dealing with other countries who wanted to tell Americans what to do. But since then our government has really gotten used to telling us what to do. …
Our new breed of lawyer-kings is composed of urban utopianists ruling through central government. To them the Bill of Rights is a piece of incomprehensible lunacy that prevents them from getting anything done. They are not concerned with rural government trespasses, they are worried about bombs and riots in their cities and they are terrified of their global goals being sabotaged by some movie trailer.
They are making Muslim violence into our new law, just as they made urban violence into our new law, just as they have made their own bureaucratic mandates backed by SWAT teams and prisons into our new law.
The age when laws were made by men, rather than machines of social progress composed of lawyers and activists, bureaucrats and think-tanks, lobbyists and judges, is long since gone. There is no law in our laws, but the law of force. The Constitution sits on a dusty shelf while the judges bang their gavels and practice the law that mandates something because those in power want it that way.
And now our utopian lawyer-kings, our armies of bleeding-heart social justice activists, our legions of bureaucrats stamping their papers over our skulls, our grinning black-robed activist judges wielding their gavels like swords, are cringing in terror before a Muslim mob. The bullies who have bullied us for so long have proven to be cowards. While they dismantle our army to sell it for scraps so that the EPA and HUD and the cowboy poetry festivals can get their billions, they order us to fall on our knees before the Army of Allah.
The liberal bullies who bullied us for so long have been successfully bullied and have handed us over to the bully’s bully. But bullies, of the liberal or Muslim kind, are cowards. Their bullying only works until they are successfully bullied and without their threat of force, their laws wither and blow away on the wind.
These quotations are from an article by Daniel Greenfield at Canada Free Press.
Read it ALL here.