Trumpism triumphant? 2

Has the Kavanaugh affair united the Republican Party behind President Trump?

And if so, will it now defeat the ever more berserk Left?

Of the Republican reaction to the tactics of the Democrats opposing the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, Gavin Wax writes at Western Journal:

The silver lining in this disgusting spectacle is a unified GOP moving forward with the singular goal of crushing the left. The line in the sand has been drawn, and there is no turning back. Even the most stubborn Trump haters of the right see that now. The Kavanaugh hearing will be a seminal movement in this fractured era of politics, and if the GOP can muster the courage to get ferocious with their contemptible enemies, it can be the turning point toward Making America Great Again.

He sees the affair as a vindication of President Trump’s leadership. It’s not only the Kavanaugh victory that proves the Trumpian way is the right way, but it provides the moment for full realization:

Anyone watching intently during the Obama years could see what was forming on the left, but it has reached critical mass due to Trump’s meteoric success. People who do not closely follow politics are seeing what the left is really all about aside from that flowery veneer of tolerance and diversity. The average blue-collar supporter of Trump has their eyes wide open, never to be closed again. This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment that we have to capitalize upon while there is still time.

No turning back” for the GOP?  Never again will the average blue-collar worker believe the Democratic Party serves his interests?  Never again will the Republicans allow the Left an inch if by any means they can be stopped?

Well, it still depends on whether Republicans can “muster the courage to get ferocious”.

The writer hopes that “the most stubborn Trump haters of the right” see now how good is President Trump’s leadership is.

He hopes that certain Republican commentators who were against Donald Trump’s presidency have been brought by the Kavanaugh affair to see the light. They ought to have been, but he is not certain that they were:

Commentators like Erick Erickson, David French and John Podhoretz have to be realizing that Trump’s approach is vindicated. They can bemoan Trump for swatting the hornet’s nest and stirring up the left, but the communist threat is coming to destroy the lives of anyone who is to the right of Karl Marx. If you are white, Christian, conservative or a male (just one of these attributes is enough), they will target you and your family with a heinous smear campaign, and that will just be the beginning. Trumpism is currently the only viable alternative to the Orwellian machinations of the left.

How many  Congressional Republicans formerly antagonistic to, or unenthusiastic about, Donald Trump have come round to his side because of the Kavanaugh affair?

A new eclectic coalition of surprising allies has coalesced around the president.

The most vociferous defender of Kavanaugh during Thursday’s hearings was arguably South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Graham ran for president in 2016 largely as a wet blanket attempting to cool the Trump revolution but has come around in years since. Trump has also been able to hatch out solid working relationships with Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, Rand Paul, Tom Cotton, and Mark Meadows — an interesting cross-section of political leaders. …. A coalition that seemed inconceivable just last year.

Some have been left behind — like now deceased former Sen. John McCain whose vendetta with Trump became personal, soon-to-be-gone Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake who staked their careers on opposing Trump’s rise in the GOP, and Reps. Justin Amash and Walter Jones who went from constitutional heroes to pariahs over their stubborn opposition to the president — but the overwhelming consensus of the Republican Party is firmly behind Trump. Kavanaugh’s railroading has only strengthened Trump’s power over his constituency, and this party unity will be needed for what is to come.

If Kavanaugh’s confirmation was the convincing achievement, still it must be noted that Kavanaugh was not himself unwanted by Never Trumpers. The victory was not exactly a victory for Trumpism as such. Kavanaugh was “an establishment supported candidate”. 

In what may have been a fortuitous coincidence or was perhaps another example of 4-D chess, Trump picked an establishment supported candidate in Brett Kavanaugh as his second proposed Supreme Court nominee.

In fact, some Trump supporters did not consider Kavanaugh conservative enough:

Although some of Trump’s die-hard supporters were tepid on the pick at first, the attacks from the left quickly solidified him into a hero.

But –

He had the full-fledged support of the NeverTrump right from the outset because of his closeness to President George W. Bush …

So let’s enquire: what do Never Trumpers on the Right themselves have to say about warming to the president’s leadership?

What is the National Review saying?

The editor-in-chief of National Review, Rich Lowry, does not count himself a Never Trumper; but his colleagues, Ramesh Ponnuru, Jonah Goldberg, Bill Kristol and Stephen Hayes, firmly and sternly do.

Or have done.

Until now? Until the victory of President Trump, the Senate Republicans, and the new Supreme Court Justice himself, won the fierce and prolonged battle to get Justice Kavanaugh’s appointment confirmed?

It seems there has been a change of mind.

Significantly, the authorship of this National Review article is attributed to “The Editors”:

After one of the most intense political fights of the last two decades, Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has become Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh of the United States Supreme Court. This is a good thing for the integrity of our Constitution, for elementary American norms, and for the long-term health of our political institutions.

Justice Kavanaugh has demonstrated throughout his career a firm adherence to a constitutionalist jurisprudence; indeed, that was the root of the opposition to him. He will undoubtedly stay true to this approach, which has guided him during his years on the D.C. Circuit and is evident in black-and-white in his hundreds of opinions. All of this was pushed to the side, though, in the final frenzy to destroy and defeat him. …

Judge Kavanaugh was not “on trial” in a formal sense. But that fact in no way undermines the practices and norms that mark formal trials. Presumption of innocence and an insistence on corroborating evidence are integral parts of our system because they work. Had the Democratic party prevailed in its attempt to set them aside, the precedent would have been disastrous.

Throughout this saga, the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee maintained that their job was to investigate credible charges of wrongdoing and to determine whether they could be verified. Shamefully, their counterparts exhibited no such interest. It was unclear whether Judge Kavanaugh’s record was being examined for rape or for rudeness, for drinking or for defensiveness, for temperament or for truth. At times the lack of focus took on a Stalinist quality: “He did it,” Kavanaugh’s accusers insisted day in, day out, “but even if he didn’t, the vehemence with which he denied it is itself disqualifying.”

It is a testament to the fortitude of the Republican party that these conceits were rejected in the end. Donald Trump had the good sense to pick Kavanaugh, and then the determination to stick by him. …

In America we do not sacrifice individuals on the altar of collective guilt, and we do not entertain that illiberal alchemy by which “nobody can corroborate this” becomes “he did it and must pay”. When the Senate met yesterday to put a bow on this squalid affair, there remained as much evidence for Judge Kavanaugh’s unfitness as there had been on the day was nominated: none. To have rejected him despite this, [Senator Susan] Collins observed, would be to have abandoned “fundamental legal principles”.

The Senate refused to do so. The Justice prevailed, and so did justice.

The praise of Donald Trump for his “good sense” in picking Brett Kavanaugh, and his “determination” in sticking to his choice, does imply that “The Editors” of National Review, as a body, now approve of the president.

What then lies ahead?

Back to Gavin Wax who writes that “Trumpism is the only way forward”:

What is left of the Buckleyites thought that they and the “sane voices in the room” on the left could sweep this Trump embarrassment under the rug and head back to the politics of the past. That delusion is no longer tenable. The inmates run the asylum on the left, and every denizen must submit to every ridiculous trope regarding gender, sex, race, etc. or face the social consequences. Because groupthink is their default preset, nobody can speak up against this institutional insanity without getting cannibalized by the jackals. …

But –

The left is never going to capitulate. They have gone too far to stop now. They will only escalate things drastically from this point forward. They will repeat any lie — no matter how absurd, cruel or disgusting it may be — to stop Trump and his supporters. Anyone who believes in the Constitution, the rule of law, due process, and the presumption of innocence is a racist Nazi guilty of sexual assault. This is the future that we will live in if the left is successful, and it is probably worse than what Orwell envisioned in “1984″.

Remember, the left has many institutional advantages that are difficult to overcome. The demographic realities are on their side. The cultural downslide has already reached epidemic proportions. We cannot expect another Trump to come along and move things forward if he is ultimately stopped. This may be our final stand, and we have to move ever more boldly as a result. Trump has taught us that we have to be willing to fight as ruthlessly as the left in order to win.

If the Republican Party now fully accepts President Trump’s leadership; if Republicans at last have the stomach for a fight, or better still an appetite for it; if they engage the fight and if they win it, then the Kavanaugh hearing will have been “a seminal movement in this fractured era of politics” and a turning-point.

Now for the ferocious battle.

Winning 17

We had a commenter recently on our Facebook page who said that President Trump should “get off his ass” and do something. When we replied that he had achieved more in his first year than any other president in living memory, and against more deliberate hampering, blocking and resistance than any other president – and that he, the commenter,  only did not know this because he read the mainstream media which refused to report President Trump’s accomplishments – his further comment was a long string of hahahas.

As there must be millions who would also laugh at our assertion, it is time to list those accomplishments. And it is also time to name the conservatives who joined the hamperers, blockers and resisters in making it as hard for the president to achieve anything as they possibly could – out of sheer prejudice.

John Nolte has made such a list and named some of the most prominent guilty conservatives.

He writes at Breitbart:

Remember these names: Jonah Goldberg, David Frum, Bill Kristol, Rich Lowry, Max Boot, Mitt Romney, John Kasich, Joe Scarborough, Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, Jennifer Rubin, George Will, Josh Jordan, Tom Nichols, Charles Cooke, Stephen Hayes, Tim Miller, John Podhoretz, Nicole Wallace, Steven Schmidt, Bret Stephens, Ross Douthat, Leon Wolf, David Brooks, Rick Wilson, Evan McMullin, Stuart Stevens, Red State, National Review, the Weekly Standard 

These are the so-called conservative men, women, and institutions who (among others) fought the hardest to sabotage Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, all in the unforgivable hope that Hillary Clinton would become president.

These are so-called conservatives who have, for nearly two years now, been promoting themselves and fundraising by smearing Trump as incompetent and “not a real conservative,” as a “Democrat in sheep’s clothing” — when, in fact, all of that best describes #NeverTrump.

These are the so-called conservatives who — after Trump’s first year in office — have now been proven as wrong as wrong can be. If their conservative credentials lost all credibility during a 2016 campaign during which they used whatever residual influence they had to hand the Oval Office to Clinton, the proven results of the past year should mean that they are written off forever as idiots, quacks, mercenaries, and con men.

Trump has had, in my opinion, the most successful first year of any president since Ronald Reagan. And not just a consequential first year that has already built a legacy, but conservative first year. Below, I do my best to list these accomplishments, but there are so many, forgive me if a few are missed:

  • Real, honest-to-goodness tax reform and cuts — the most consequential in 30 years.
  • Opening ANWR for oil exploration, an accomplishment few can appreciate who do not remember the 90s and what a sacred cow this is for the left.
  • Killing the Obamacare mandate that brutalized those making less than $50,000 a year.
  • The Islamic State (ISIS) has been decimated. [We would say obliterated– ed]
  • After a 2016 of just 1.9 percent GDP growth, we have now had two quarters in a row of growth over three percent; predictions for the final quarter of 2017 are as high as four percent.
  • [The appointment of] Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who has already proven himself the perfect replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • The Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines are a go — which means tens of thousands of jobs.
  • A record number of judicial appointments on the appeals courts.
  • The end of the War on Coal.
  • A surge in coal mining after 2016’s decline.
  • The end of the federal government’s violating the religious conscience through indefensible Obamacare mandates involving birth control and abortion pills.
  • The civil rights movement for school choice is getting the green light throughout the country.
  • Illegal immigration is way down.
  • The stock market hit record highs 70 times in 2017, rising 5,000 points for the first time ever.
  • The long-overdue recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  • We are free of the awful Paris climate treaty.
  • Regulatory reform that is just getting started, but it has already had a hugely positive effect on our economy.
  • Withdrawal from the Global Compact on Migration, which undercut American sovereignty.
  • Return of nearly two million acres to the state Utah that the federal government had stolen.
  • A $250 billion trade deal with China.
  • Many of our NATO allies are finally paying their dues.
  • Consumer confidence is the best we have seen in more than a decade.
  • Pulled us out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in favor of the American worker and sovereignty.
  • Trump has managed to get China to help rein in North Korea. [To some extent – ed]
  • Black unemployment is at a 17-year low.
  • Hispanic unemployment is at an all-time low.
  • Overall unemployment is at [four point] one percent.
  • Manufacturing jobs boom.
  • Standing up for persecuted Christian minorities in the Middle East. [More needs to be done, but it’s a start – ed]
  • Promoting Christmas.
  • Banning [immigration] or demanding stronger vetting [of immigrants] from [predominantly Muslim] countries most likely to [export] terrorists.
  • Housing sales are at an 11-year high.
  • Ban on transgender military recruits.

Now, you need to close your eyes and imagine what the list above would look like had #NeverTrump won the day and made Hillary Clinton president.

Now, try to imagine any one of the 16 Republicans who competed [with Trump] for the 2016 nomination accomplishing all of this, or even having the courage to stand up to a media onslaught to accomplish all of this, or even being, yes, conservative enough to do things like pull us out of the Paris climate agreement (something the Republican establishment’s failed 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, opposes).

Trump’s conservatism, his competence, his willingness to stand up to gale force media hate to keep his promises, is unlike anything we have seen since 1981.

In the pursuit of only their own grift, personal fame, the gratification of bottomless egos, and a soft place to land among the Beautiful People, #NeverTrump lied to us, took our money, and fought tooth and nail to extend the disastrous Obama presidency into a third term.

And now, just one year into Trump’s presidency, #NeverTrump has once again been exposed for who they truly are — bitter, dishonest saboteurs more interested in their lofty place at the trough than the future of their own country.

All these bitter clingers have left now is to further degrade outlets such as the once-necessary National Review, a once-cherished laboratory of vibrant conservative ideas and thought, which is now a hangout for sore losers to keep rewriting the same column over and over and over again about how pure and virtuous they are, as they scold the rest of us for fighting for and sticking with a president who has delivered in ways they told us was not even within the realm of possibility.

So now the real conservatives can laugh – the longest string of triumphant hahahas they can manage while their breath lasts.

*

Later: WND provides an even longer list: 168 accomplishments.

The strict sameness of diversity 18

On the political left, fair is foul and foul is fair.

The left likes to use words to mean their opposites. Communist dictatorships like to call themselves “democratic” republics. It’s a cynical tease, because it shows that they know democracy is better than dictatorship.

A cynical lefty euphemism much in use in America is “diversity”. It should mean “variety”, but what it has come to mean in practice is its opposite  – “orthodoxy”: a strict doctrinal uniformity of opinion.

The doctrine has achieved enormous success in the universities, which are no longer open to new ideas, no longer allow free debate, no longer question fixed assumptions. That’s what they once existed for. Now they are temples of political correctness, safes for the secure locking up of leftist doctrine.They want a sterile mix of ethnicities and of as many genders as semantic ingenuity can invent, but not a fertile mix of ideas. They recognize only one set of ideas as correct. To question it is heresy.

Steps towards enforcing this kind of “diversity” in the news media have been proposed by the Obama administration. Charles Krauthammer deplores the move in this video clip:

Here the doctrine of diversity is examined by Victor Davis Hanson:

Diversity has become corporatized on American campuses, with scores of bureaucrats and administrators accentuating different pedigrees and ancestries. That’s odd, because diversity does not mean any more “variety” or “points of difference,” at least as it used to be defined.

Instead, diversity has become … synonymous with orthodoxy and intolerance, especially of political thought.

When campuses sloganeer “celebrate diversity,” that does not mean encouraging all sorts of political views. …

Do colleges routinely invite graduation speakers who are skeptical of man-made global warming, and have reservations about present abortion laws, gay marriage or illegal immigration – if only for the sake of ensuring diverse views?

Nor does diversity mean consistently ensuring that institutions should reflect “what America looks like.” …

Do we really want all institutions to weigh diversity rather than merit so that coveted spots reflect the race and gender percentages of American society? …

Gender disparity is absolutely stunning on American campuses. Women now earn about 61 percent of all associate degrees and 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees. With such disproportionate gender representation, do we need outreach offices on campus to weigh maleness in admissions? Should college presidents investigate whether the campus has become an insidiously hostile place for men? …

If ethnic, rather than class, pedigrees provide an edge, how do we ascertain them in today’s melting-pot culture? Does the one-quarter Latino student, the recent arrival from Jamaica or the fourth-generation Japanese-American deserve special consideration as “diverse”? And if so, over whom? The Punjabi-American? The Arab-American? The gay rich kid? The coal miner’s daughter? Or the generic American who chooses not to broadcast his profile?

Does Diversity Inc. rely on genetic testing, family documents, general appearance, accented names, trilled pronunciation or just personal assurance to pass judgment on who should be advantaged in any measurement of diversity?

In such an illiberal, tribally obsessed and ideologically based value system, it is not hard to see why and how careerists such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and activist Ward Churchill were able to fabricate helpful Native American ancestries.

Diversity came into vogue after affirmative action became unworkable in the 1980s. Given the multiplicity of ethnicities, huge influxes of new immigrants and a growing rate of intermarriage, it became almost impossible to adjudicate historical grievances and dole out legal remedies. So just creating “diversity” – without much worry over how to define it – avoided the contradictions.

But diversity is not only incoherent; it is also ironic. On a campus short of resources, the industry of diversity and related “studies” classes that focus on gender or racial differences and grievances crowd out exactly the sort of disciplines that provide the skills – mastery of languages, literature, science, engineering, business and math – that best prep non-traditional graduates for a shot at well-compensated careers.

And here Jonah Goldberg writes on the same subject:

Cancel the philosophy courses, people. Oh, and we’re going to be shuttering the political science, religion and pre-law departments too. We’ll keep some of the English and history folks on for a while longer, but they should probably keep their resumes handy.

Because, you see, they are of no use anymore. We have the answers to the big questions, so why keep pretending there’s anything left to discuss?

At least that’s where Erin Ching, a student at Swarthmore College, seems to be coming down. Her school invited a famous [or infamous – ed] left-wing Princeton professor, Cornel West, and a famous right-wing Princeton professor, Robert George, to have a debate. The two men are friends, and by all accounts they had an utterly civil exchange of ideas. But that only made the whole thing even more outrageous.

“What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion,” Ching told the Daily Gazette, the school’s newspaper. “I don’t think we should be tolerating [George’s] conservative views because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society.”

Swarthmore must be so proud.

Over at Harvard, another young lady has similar views. Harvard Crimson editorial writer Sandra Y.L. Korn recently called for getting rid of academic freedom in favor of something called “academic justice”. 

“If our university community opposes racism, sexism and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom’?” Korn asks.

Helpfully, she answers her own question: “When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.”

One could easily dismiss these students as part of that long and glorious American tradition of smart young people saying stupid things. As Oscar Wilde remarked, “In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.”

But we all know that this nonsense didn’t spring ex nihilo from their imaginations … These ideas are taught.

Indeed, we are now up to our knees in this Orwellian bilge. Diversity means conformity. …

To want “diversity” – the writer sums up – means to listen only to “people who agree with me”  and that means people who are left wing.

[For] the sages of Swarthmore and Harvard …  if the conversation heads in a direction where [they] smell “oppression” – as defined solely by the left – then it must not be “put up with”. 

Diversity demands that diversity of opinion not be tolerated anymore.

The libertarian ideal 2

This is from a fine article by Jonah Goldberg at Townhall:

Definitions vary, but broadly speaking, libertarianism is the idea that people should be as free as possible from state coercion so long as they don’t harm anyone.

Or as we put it in our Articles of ReasonMy liberty should be limited by nothing except everyone else’s liberty.

The job of the state is limited to fighting crime, providing for the common defense, and protecting the rights and contracts of citizens. The individual is sovereign, he is the captain of himself.

It’s true, no ideal libertarian state has ever existed outside a table for one. And no such state will ever exist. But here’s an important caveat: No ideal state of any other kind will be created either. …

Ideals are …  goals, aspirations, abstract straight rules we use as measuring sticks against the crooked timber of humanity.

In the old Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia and today’s North Korea, they tried to move toward the ideal communist system. Combined, they killed about 100 million of their own people. That’s a hefty moral distinction right there: When freedom-lovers move society toward their ideal, mistakes may be made, but people tend to flourish. When the hard left is given free reign, millions are murdered and enslaved. Which ideal would you like to move toward?  …

How statism/collectivism  ever came to be an ideal is puzzling enough, but that there are millions who still want it after those calamitous experiments Jonah Goldberg names, remains to us a mystery beyond all comprehension.

It’s a little bizarre how the left has always conflated statism with modernity and progress. The idea that rulers – be they chieftains, kings, priests, politburos or wonkish bureaucrats – are enlightened or smart enough to tell others how to live is older than the written word. And the idea that someone stronger, with better weapons, has the right to take what is yours predates man’s discovery of fire by millennia. And yet, we’re always told that the latest rationalization for increased state power is the “wave of the future.”

That phrase, “the wave of the future,” became famous thanks to a 1940 essay by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She argued that the time of liberal democratic capitalism was drawing to a close and the smart money was on statism of one flavor or another – fascism, communism, socialism, etc. What was lost on her, and millions of others, was that this wasn’t progress toward the new, but regression to the past. These “waves of the future” were simply gussied-up tribalisms, anachronisms made gaudy with the trappings of modernity, like a gibbon in a spacesuit. 

The only truly new political idea in the last couple thousand years is this libertarian idea, broadly understood. The revolution wrought by John Locke, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith and the Founding Fathers is the only real revolution going. And it’s still unfolding. …

We would add that this revolution has been advanced in thought further by Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Robert Nozick, and (more popularly) Ayn Rand, to name just some of the later philosophers of individual freedom.

What made the American experiment new were its libertarian innovations, broadly speaking. Moreover, those innovations made us prosper. …

I’m actually not a full-blown libertarian myself, but it’s an ideal I’d like America to move closer to, not further away from as we’ve been doing of late – bizarrely in the name of “progress” of all things.

Same goes for us.

A brief history of libertarian conservatism, and the questionable future of statism 1

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.

The Iraq war was not for oil 6

Jonah Goldberg, writing at Townhall, lists among Chuck Hagel’s many disqualifications for an appointment as Defense Secretary, his wrong-headed belief that the Iraq war was a war for oil. (The whole article is worth reading.)

The Iraq war … was according to Hagel a war for oil.

This belief is prevalent all over the world and needs to be debunked. This thorough debunking job comes from the excellent Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy:

When the US-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003, one of the most common perceptions was that the primary motive behind the war was the country’s significant oil reserves.

According to a 2002 Pew Poll, 44 per cent British, 75 per cent French, 54 per cent Germans, and 76 per cent Russians were greatly suspicious of US intentions in Iraq and bought into the “blood for oil” narrative. … Only 22 per cent of Americans believed that the Bush administration’s policy was driven by oil interests.

At the time, experts pointed out that this argument was deeply flawed and a lazy mantra of the war opponents.

While Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, its output in the early 2000s was modest and accounted for only 3 per cent of total global productivity. Due to the geology of the oilfields and, above all, the poor infrastructure destroyed by years of war, Saddam’s negligence, and the sanctions regime, Iraq had the lowest yield of any major producer, amounting to just 0.8 per cent of its potential output.

By the end of 2011, the US had spent almost $802bn on funding the war and, as the Centre for Strategic and International Studies pointed out, Iraq had additional debts of over $100 billion.

On top of that, the US only imports 12.9 per cent of its oil from the Middle East. 8.1 per cent is provided by Saudi Arabia.

In other words, invading Iraq was an extremely expensive undertaking for the US-led coalition with no guarantee or prospect of considerable profitability.

As Daniel Yergin argued at the time: “no US administration would launch so momentous a campaign just to facilitate a handful of oil development contracts and a moderate increase in supply-half a decade from now.” …

10 years after the invasion of Iraq, who is profiting most from the country’s oil reserves? The US? The UK? No. PetroChina, Russian Lukoil, and Pakistan Petroleum – fierce opponents of the war.

On the other hand, as Germany’s leading weekly news magazine DER SPIEGEL reported this week, “America has not a single, significant oil deal with Baghdad” anymore.

EXXON is moving out of Iraq and PetroChina has taken the lead in the auction of West Qurna – one of the largest oil fields in the world – with Russian Lukoil as a potential competitor. If the Chinese bid is successful, the country will account for 32 per cent of total oil contracts in Iraq.

The “blood for oil” conspiracists owe President Bush an apology.

An apology to President Bush? Over a mis-ascription of motive for the Iraq War? It won’t happen, of course. But at least the truth is on record.

How the world really works 1

The free market is the engine of our civilization. It works. Works best if it is not interfered with by government. Works as a spontaneous system of co-operation and division of labor.

On which subject, here is part of a splendid short essay by Jonah Goldberg. He writes:

No one in the world knows how to make the newspaper you are holding (and, if you’re reading this on your phone, computer, iPad or Kindle, no one knows how to make those things either).

Even the best editor in the world has no clue how to make a printing press or the ink, or how to operate a communications satellite.

This is hardly a new insight. In 1958, Leonard Read wrote one of the most famous essays in the history of libertarianism, “I, Pencil.” It begins, “I am a lead pencil — the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.” It is one of the most simple objects in human civilization. And yet, “not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.”

The pencil tells the story of its own creation. The wood comes from Oregon, or perhaps California. The lead, which is really graphite, is mined in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The eraser, which is not rubber but something called “factice” is “made by reacting rape-seed oil from the Dutch East Indies with sulfur chloride.”

To make a long story short, the simple act of collecting and combining the ingredients of a pencil involves the cooperation of thousands of experts in dozens of fields, from engineering and mining to chemistry and commodity trading. I suppose it’s possible for someone to master all of the knowledge and expertise to make a pencil all by themselves, but why would they?

The lessons one can draw from this fact are humbling. For starters, any healthy civilization, never mind any healthy economy, involves unfathomably vast amounts of harmonious cooperation.

These days there’s a lot of buzz about something called “cloud computing.” In brief, this is a new way of organizing computer technology so that most of the data storage and number crunching doesn’t actually take place in your own computer. Rather, everyone plugs into the computational equivalent of the electrical grid.

Do a Nexis search and you’ll find hundreds of articles insisting that this is a “revolutionary” advance in information organization. And in one sense, that’s obviously true. But in another this is simply an acceleration of how civilization has always worked. The information stored in an encyclopedia or textbook is a form of cloud computing. So is the expertise stored in your weatherman’s head. So are the intangible but no less real lessons accumulated over generations of trial and error and contained in everything from the alphabet to the U.S. Constitution

More relevant, the modern market economy is the greatest communal enterprise ever undertaken in the history of humanity. Friedrich Hayek did the heavy lifting on this point over half a century ago in his essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” The efficient pricing of markets allows millions of independent actors to decide for themselves how to allocate resources. According to Hayek, no central planner or bureaucrat could ever have enough knowledge to consistently and successfully guide all of those economic actions in a more efficient manner.

According to progressives, the financial crisis discredited “market fundamentalism” and created a burning need for a more cooperative society where “we’re all in it together.” It’s an ancient argument, with many noble intentions behind it. But it rests on a misunderstanding of one simple, astounding, irrefutable fact. The market economy is cooperative, and more successfully so than any alternative system ever conceived of, never mind put into practice. Admittedly it doesn’t feel that way, which is why everyone wants to find a better replacement for it. But they never will, for the same reason no one can make a pencil.

Find Leonard Read’s classic essay I, Pencil here, either to refresh your memory and enjoy it anew, or to learn its lesson for the first time. It is essential to the proper education of every generation.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, Industry, liberty by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, September 8, 2010

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Hate crime 1

Daisy Khan, wife of the imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who wants to build a mosque at Ground Zero, said on ABC news last Sunday that anti-Islam feeling in America was like “metastasized anti-Semitism.”

Just as unreasonable and unprovoked? Just as widespread?

Jonah Goldberg, author of that very good book Liberal Fascism, thinks not. He writes in the Los Angeles Times:

Here’s a thought: The 70% of Americans who oppose what amounts to an Islamic Niketown two blocks from ground zero are the real victims of a climate of hate, and anti-Muslim backlash is mostly a myth.

Let’s start with some data.

According to the FBI, hate crimes against Muslims increased by a staggering 1,600% in 2001. That sounds serious! But wait, the increase is a math mirage. There were 28 anti-Islamic incidents in 2000. That number climbed to 481 the year a bunch of Muslim terrorists murdered 3,000 Americans in the name of Islam on Sept. 11.

Now, that was a hate crime.

The so-called backlash against Muslims is largely a myth:

[In 2002] the number of anti-Islamic hate-crime incidents (overwhelmingly, nonviolent vandalism and nasty words) dropped to 155. In 2003, there were 149 such incidents. And the number has hovered around the mid-100s or lower ever since.

Sure, even one hate crime is too many. But does that sound like an anti-Muslim backlash to you?

Let’s put this in even sharper focus. America is, outside of Israel, probably the most receptive and tolerant country in the world to Jews. And yet, in every year since 9/11, more Jews have been hate-crime victims than Muslims. A lot more.

In 2001, there were twice as many anti-Jewish incidents as there were anti-Muslim, again according to the FBI. In 2002 and pretty much every year since, anti-Jewish incidents have outstripped anti-Muslim ones by at least 6 to 1. Why aren’t we talking about the anti-Jewish climate in America?

Because there isn’t one. And there isn’t an anti-Muslim climate either. Yes, there’s a lot of heated rhetoric on the Internet. Absolutely, some Americans don’t like Muslims. But if you watch TV or movies or read, say, the op-ed page of the New York Times — never mind left-wing blogs — you’ll hear much more open bigotry toward evangelical Christians (in blogspeak, the “Taliban wing of the Republican Party”) than you will toward Muslims. …

For 10 years we’ve been subjected to news stories about the Muslim backlash that’s always around the corner. …

… but has never happened.

Conversely, nowhere is there more open, honest and intentional intolerance — in words and deeds — than from certain prominent Muslim leaders around the world. And yet, Americans are the bigots.

And when Muslim fanatics kill Americans — after, say, the Ft. Hood slaughter — a reflexive response from the Obama administration is to fret over an anti-Islamic backlash. It’s fine to avoid negative stereotypes of Muslims, but why the rush to embrace them when it comes to Americans?

And now, thanks to the “ground zero mosque” story, we are again discussing America’s Islamophobia, which, according to Time magazine, is just another chapter in America’s history of intolerance.

When, pray tell, will Time magazine devote an issue to its, and this administration’s, intolerance of the American people?

And Ryan Mauro writes at FrontPage:

Over the recent Fourth of July weekend, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) interviewed attendees of the 47th annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention about their experiences in dealing with “Islamophobia.” Shortly afterwards, on July 6, CAIR called on the FBI to investigate an act of arson at a Georgia mosque, saying that hate crimes were increasing because of a “vocal minority in our society promoting anti-Muslim bigotry.” The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) referred to it as one of the “incidents of Islamophobia [that] are on the rise in this country.” However, police later arrested a Muslim suspect.

As Daniel Pipes has documented for years, Islamist organizations in the West are quick to label crimes as anti-Muslim hate crimes as part of their effort to make Muslims feel under attack and to paint themselves as Muslims’ protectors. For example, immediately following the Fort Hood shooting, CAIR asked Muslims to respond by donating to it. “We need financial help to meet these crises and push back against those who seek to score political points off the Muslim community in the wake of the Fort Hood tragedy,” the fundraising pitch read. To no one’s surprise, an anti-Muslim backlash did not ensue.

Cutting through the propaganda requires understanding the ways in which crimes are misrepresented as hate crimes — and why. There are two main culprits to consider: Muslims who stage fake hate crimes and Islamist organizations that seek to exploit them.

He goes on to examine why a Muslim “would fabricate a hate crime against himself or his mosque”.

In some cases, the faker has an obvious political goal of demonstrating the supposed prejudice against Muslims. A classic example occurred in 2008, when a 19-year-old female Muslim student named Safia Z. Jilani at Elmhurst College in Illinois claimed that she had been pistol-whipped in a campus restroom by a male who then wrote “Kill the Muslims” on the mirror. The alleged attack occurred just hours after she spoke at a “demonstration called to denounce the anti-Islamic slurs and swastika she had discovered … in her locker.” A week later, however, authorities determined that none of this had taken place and she was charged with filing a false police report. …

In other cases, individuals are driven to fabricate hate crimes not for political reasons, but to cover up more mundane criminal activity. Take the bizarre story of Musa and Essa Shteiwi, Ohio men who received media attention in 2006 after reporting several attacks on their store, the third being with a Molotov cocktail. A fourth “attack” then occurred, when an explosion was set off and badly burned the father and son, injuries from which they later died. CAIR highlighted it as a hate crime. However, investigators found that the two had set off the explosion themselves after they poured gasoline in preparation for another staged incident and one of them foolishly lit a cigarette. The pair had hired a former employee to carry out the previous attacks as part of an insurance fraud scheme.

Now let us turn to the motives of groups such as CAIR for exaggerating the prevalence of hate crimes against Muslims.

First and foremost, Islamists try to undermine and delegitimize their opponents by placing blame upon them for hate crimes. For example, a 2008 CAIR report attributes an alleged increase in hate crimes — “alleged” because the claimed increase is wholly contradicted by FBI statistics — to “Islamophobic rhetoric in the 2008 presidential election” and people who are “profiting by smearing Islam.” …

Islamist groups also use the fear created by their publicizing of alleged hate crimes and anti-Muslim sentiment to try to mobilize the community into opposing counterterrorism programs. As Daniel Pipes has noted, CAIR started down this path a decade and a half ago, when it described the prosecution of World Trade Center bomb plotter Omar Abdel Rahman and the arrest of Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook as hate crimes.

These groups … try to make the Muslim community feel as if it is threatened by its own government committing state-sanctioned hate crimes. True to form, attendees of the ISNA convention this past July were told how the FBI supposedly is targeting Muslims and advised that they should not talk to FBI personnel without a lawyer. …

CAIR and other Islamist groups thrive off of convincing Muslims that they are under constant assault from roving bigots and an oppressive state.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle gives another example of how CAIR exploits any incident it can to claim that an anti-Muslim hate crime has been committed. It reports:

Last September, the start of the Ann Arbor Public Schools academic year was marred by news of a fight described as an attack on an Arab-American girl.

An incident last year at Hollywood and North Maple in Ann Arbor was originally described by some as a hate crime against an Arab-American girl. Instead, the girl was charged with disorderly conduct, and recently found guilty by a jury.

The episode prompted a media blitz by the advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations and calls for investigations by state and federal civil rights agencies. … Ordinarily, the matter wouldn’t be of much interest beyond the families of the young people involved. But in this case, CAIR … had raised the profile and the volume:

Detroit and local news organizations covered the story of a potential hate crime. …

What investigators found was very different than that CAIR description. …

The report goes on to describe what had really happened. It was not a hate crime but a fight between two girls. The facts didn’t please CAIR at all. They would have preferred the Arab-American girl to have been the victim of an anti-Muslim mob, as they falsely alleged she was.

The same paper provides some useful information.

Michigan’s law on hate crime, or ethnic intimidation, dates to 1988. It adds to the penalty in cases where an offender is found to have committed a crime motivated in whole or in part by bias against a race or national origin, religion, sexual orientation, mental/physical disability or ethnicity.

The state regularly has one of the highest incidences of reported cases (726 in 2008 and 914 in 2007), perhaps due to reporting practices. …

In Washtenaw County, there were 38 reported hate or bias incidents in 2007 and 24 in 2008, the most recent years data is available. That’s one incident per every 9,149 county residents in 2007 and one in every 14,487 residents in 2008. Statewide, the incidences for those years were one per 10,904 and one per 13,732 residents, respectively. …

There was a single report of an anti-Islamic bias crime in Washtenaw County during those two years.