Revolution? 4

Is America in the throes of a revolution? Are we sliding unstoppably into totalitarian communism?

Angelo Codevilla writes at American Greatness:

Some conservatives, rejoicing that impeachment turned into yet another of #TheResistance’s political train wrecks and that President Trump is likely to be reelected by a bigger margin than in 2016, expect that a chastened ruling class will return to respecting the rest of us. They are mistaken.

Trump’s reelection, by itself, cannot protect us. The ruling class’s intolerance of the 2016 election’s results was intolerance of us.

Nor was their intolerance so much a choice as it was the expression of its growing sense of its own separate identity, of power and of entitlement to power. The halfhearted defenses with which the offensives of the ruling class have been met already advertise the fact that it need not and will not accept the outcome of any presidential election it does not win. Trump notwithstanding, this class will rule henceforth as it has in the past three years. So long as its hold on American institutions continues to grow, and they retain millions of clients, elections won’t really matter.

Our country is in a state of revolution, irreversibly, because society’s most influential people have retreated into moral autarchy, …

Autarchy, or autocracy, is rule by a dictator. Has any Democrat proclaimed a desire for a dictator, or to be a dictator? If so, we missed it. The Democrats want absolute power in their own hands, but have’t yet wished up a Stalin or a Mao. It’s highly likely that Bernie Sanders would like to be an American Stalin, but has he admitted it?

Besides which, there is not a single Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States who could run a poll in Iowa, let alone the country. 

Moral autarchy? Not sure what that means. But okay, let’s accept the term in order to follow the writer’s argument.

… have seceded from America’s constitutional order, and because they browbeat their socio-political adversaries instead of trying to persuade them. Theirs is not a choice that can be reversed. It is a change in the character of millions of people.

Does character change? Does the character of a people – a nation – change? What characterizes any nation must by definition be what does not change about it. For a country to change its character it would have to have its population replaced by a different population – as is happening rapidly in Sweden, France, Spain, and Germany.  The Democrats seem to like the idea of America becoming more “Hispanic” than “Anglo”, but it hasn’t happened yet, and might never happen.

There has been a change in America over the last 70 years or so. It is not a change of character. In all their variety, Americans are recognizably the same as they were 100 years ago. What has changed in America are ideas about values and morals, about what matters and what doesn’t.

And that is what the article under discussion is really about.

The sooner conservatives realize that the Republic established between 1776 and 1789—the America we knew and loved—cannot return, the more fruitfully we will be able to manage the revolution’s clear and present challenges to ourselves. How are we to deal with a ruling class that insists on ruling—elections and generally applicable rules notwithstanding—because it regards us as lesser beings?

The resistance that reached its public peaks in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and the impeachment imbroglio should have left no doubt about the socio-political arbitrariness that flows from the ruling class’s moral autarchy, about the socio-political power of the ruling class we’re forced to confront, or of its immediate threat to our freedom of speech.

Chief Justice John Roberts, presiding over the Senate’s impeachment trial, was as clear an example as any of that moral autarchy and its grip on institutions.

Pursuant to Senate rules, Senator Rand Paul sent a written question through Roberts to House Manager Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) regarding the extent of collaboration between Schiff’s staffer Sean Misko and his longtime fellow partisan, CIA officer Eric Ciaramella in starting the charges that led to impeachment. Roberts, having read the question to himself, declared: “The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted.”

The chief justice of the United States, freedom of speech’s guardian-in-chief, gave no reason for declining to read Paul’s question. The question was relevant to the proceedings. It violated no laws, no regulations. The names of the two persons were known to every member of the House and Senate, as well as to everyone around the globe who had followed news reports over the previous months. But the Democratic Party had been campaigning to drive from public discussion that this impeachment stemmed from the partisan collaboration between a CIA officer and a Democratic staffer.

“Collaboration” is the polite term for it; “conspiracy” the more accurate one.

Accordingly, the mainstream media had informally but totally banned discussion of this fact, supremely relevant but supremely embarrassing to Schiff in particular and to Democrats in general. Now, Paul was asking Schiff officially to comment on the relationship. Schiff could have explained it, or refused to explain it. But Roberts saved him the embarrassment and trouble—and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spared senators the problem of voting on a challenge to Roberts’s  ruling. The curtain of official concealment, what the Mafia calls the omertà, remained intact. Why no reason?

Just as no dog wags his tail without a reason, neither did Roberts wag his without reason. Neither the laws of the United States nor the rules of the Senate told the presiding officer to suppress the senator’s question. Why was Roberts pleased to please those he pleased and to displease those he displeased? In short, why did this impartial presiding officer act as a man partial to one side against the other?

This professional judge could hardly have been impressed by the ruling class’s chosen instrument, Adam Schiff, or by Schiff’s superior regard for legal procedure. Since Schiff’s prosecution featured hiding the identity of the original accuser—after promising to feature his testimony—and since it featured secret depositions, blocked any cross-examination of its own witnesses, and prevented the defense from calling any of their own, it would have been strange if Chief Justice Roberts’s bias was a professional one.

Is it possible that Roberts favored the substance of the ruling class claim that neither President Trump nor any of his defenders have any right to focus public attention on the Biden family’s use of public office to obtain money in exchange for influence? That, after all, is what Washington is largely about. Could Roberts also love corruption so much as to help conceal it? No.

Roberts’s professional and ethical instincts incline him the other way. Nevertheless, he sustained the ruling class’s arbitrariness. Whose side did he take? His dinner companions’ side? The media’s? His wife’s? Roberts’s behavior—contrary as it was to his profession, to his morals, and to his political provenance—shows how great is the ruling class’s centripetal force.

The sad but inescapable consequence of this force is that conservatives have no choice but to follow the partisan logic of revolution—fully conscious of the danger that partisanship can make us as ridiculously dishonest as Adam Schiff or CNN’s talking heads, into rank-pullers like John Roberts, and into profiteers as much as any member of the Biden family.

Do conservatives have no choice but to go along with “the revolution”, with the abandonment of the values that inspired the Constitution, with corruption as a matter of indisputable but unchangeable fact?

The writer then seems to change his mind. He suggests there is a choice:

And yet, revolution is war, the proximate objective of which is to hurt the other side until it loses the capacity and the will to do us harm. That means treating institutions and people from the standpoint of our own adversarial interest: controlling what we can either for our own use or for bargaining purposes, discrediting and abandoning what we cannot take from our enemies.

Opposing them by the means they choose, the weapons they use? That – so the writer suggests – is our best recourse?

Unlike our enemies, our ultimate objective is, as Lincoln said, “peace among ourselves and with all nations”. But what kind of peace we may get depends on the extent to which we may compel our enemies to leave us in peace. And for that, we must do unto them more and before they do unto us.

Which is true? Do we have no choice but to join “the revolution” – a change from a free open society of self-reliant individuals into a government-controlled, race and sex obsessed, doom prophesying, totally organized community? Or are we still in control of our destiny? And if we fight our revolutionary enemy, must it be with their weapons, or ours? On their terms, or ours?

We do not see that there has been a revolution – though the Obama administration tried to make one. We do not think the only way to save America from totalitarian one-party rule is by following the rules laid down by the Gramsci-Alinsky school of sedition and the Cloward-Piven blueprint for chaos. (See here and here and here and here.)

By great good luck we have President Trump leading us in another direction, showing us another way, prioritizing better (characteristic) values: freedom, individual enterprise, innovation, industry, competence, patriotism, strength, ambition, self-confidence, prosperity. For a few more years at least. During which the Left revolutionaries may, in the fury of their frustration, stamp themselves into the ground.

In the flames of Communist paradise 3

There are millions of people in the Western world, hundreds of thousands of them in the universities, the media, the “Occupy” movement, in comfortable houses and apartments in the great cities, and at  least a few hundred in the present US administration, who “think” that Communism is really really good. The best. The ideal. The golden future that good people must work to establish.

Yeah, yeah – Paradise on earth.

They may know how the Russians suffered under Stalin, the Chinese under Mao Zedong, the Cambodians under Pol Pot. But they won’t allow such right-wing narratives to change their minds. No siree! “Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,” they declare bravely to each other over their well-loaded dining tables, “we’ll keep the Red Flag flying in our faithful hearts and hopes and dreams.” Besides, they say, that wasn’t true Communism, what Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot did.

You know the names of some of them: Anita Dunne, Van Jones, Bill Ayers, Bernadine  Dohrn, Saul Alinksy, Richard Cloward, Frances Fox Piven, Noam Chomsky …

They love humanity and Che Guevara. They feel sorry for the poor and downtrodden and are willing, eager, to kill policemen. They wish heroically to overthrow the rich, capitalism, bankers, the military-industrial complex, dead white men, Bush, Sarah Palin, and … and … you know …

Here’s an extract from an article by Jeff Jacoby at Townhall. It provides more information about life under Communism for them to brush aside:

SHIN DONG-HYUK grew up in North Korea’s Camp 14, one of the monstrous slave-labor prison complexes in which the world’s most tyrannical regime has crushed hundreds of thousands of its citizens, working them to death in conditions of excruciating brutality and degradation. Though the North Korean concentration camps have lasted far longer than their Soviet or Nazi counterparts did, Shin is the first person born and raised in one of them to have successfully escaped abroad. His story is told in journalist Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14, a heart-crushing reminder that man’s inhumanity to man has no limit.

It is a book filled with harrowing passages. At the age of six, Shin was forced to watch as one of his classmates — a short, slight, pretty girl — was beaten to death by their teacher when he discovered five kernels of corn in her pocket. When Shin accidentally dropped a sewing machine while working at the camp’s garment factory, half of his middle finger was chopped off as punishment. Time and again he sees other inmates maimed or killed when they are forced to work under appallingly dangerous conditions. And time and again he joins in collective punishment, unhesitatingly obeying when ordered to slap and beat a classmate or some other prisoner singled out for abuse and discipline.

When Shin was 14, he witnessed the execution of his mother and brother for attempting to escape. His dominant emotion as he watched them die was not sorrow, but anger: He was furious at what they had caused him to be put through. Because of their infraction, he had been savagely tortured, suspended in mid-air over a charcoal fire as interrogators demanded information about where his mother and brother were planning to flee after their escape.

“Shin, crazed with pain, smelling his burning flesh, twisted away from the heat,” Harden writes. “One of the guards grabbed a gaff hook from the wall and pierced the boy in the lower abdomen, holding him over the fire until he lost consciousness.”

North Korea’s slave-labor gulag would be horrific even if its inmates were guilty of actual crimes. But most prisoners are guilty of nothing except being related to the wrong family.

Under a demented doctrine laid down by Kim Il Sung, the communist tyrant who founded North Korea, “enemies of class … must be eliminated through three generations.” The regime therefore fills these unspeakable camps not only with “enemies” who dared to practice Christianity or failed to keep a picture of Kim properly dusted, but with their entire families, often including grandparents and grandchildren. Shin’s father ended up in Camp 14 because two of his brothers had fled south during the Korean War. He and Shin’s mother were assigned to each other by camp guards years later as prizes in a “reward” marriage. They were allowed to sleep together just five nights a year. Shin was thus conceived — and spent the first 23 years of his life — behind the electrified barbed wire of Kim’s ghastly hellhole. …

There is no cruelty so depraved that people cannot be induced to do it, or to look the other way while it is being done.

Or deny that it is being done. Or will assure you that even if it is, it’s better than … than … being exploited in “employment” by people whose only aim in life is to make a profit. Yucks!

Romancing the criminal 2

One of the sentimental theories dear to the leftist heart is that poverty causes crime. It is plainly untrue: most poor people are not criminals. Ideological levelers use it as an excuse for forcing whole societies into egalitarian straightjackets. Because the theory, or piety, is useful to them, they hang on to it however often and thoroughly it’s shown to be wrong. If they were right, crime would sink wherever poverty is alleviated by welfare provision, but what happens is the opposite: crime rises with the rise of welfare dependency.

What really does reduce crime – though socialists find the fact so intolerable they will continue to deny it in the teeth of all evidence – is the capture, conviction, imprisonment and punishment of criminals.

Heather Mac Donald, always clear thinking and accurate in research, demonstrates this in an article in the Wall Street Journal. The only thing she says that we would politely correct is that the theory arose in the 1960s (which was indeed a source of many stupid theories). Actually, it was big with ivory-tower intellectuals in the early twentieth century, and probably dates from even further back than that.

She writes:

The recession of 2008-09 has undercut one of the most destructive social theories that came out of the 1960s: the idea that the root cause of crime lies in income inequality and social injustice. As the economy started shedding jobs in 2008, criminologists and pundits predicted that crime would shoot up, since poverty, as the “root causes” theory holds, begets criminals. Instead, the opposite happened. Over seven million lost jobs later, crime has plummeted to its lowest level since the early 1960s. The consequences of this drop for how we think about social order are significant.

The notion that crime is an understandable reaction to poverty and racism took hold in the early 1960s. Sociologists Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin argued that juvenile delinquency was essentially a form of social criticism. Poor minority youth come to understand that the American promise of upward mobility is a sham, after a bigoted society denies them the opportunity to advance. These disillusioned teens then turn to crime out of thwarted expectations.

The theories put forward by Cloward, who spent his career at Columbia University, and Ohlin, who served presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Carter, provided an intellectual foundation for many Great Society-era programs. From the Mobilization for Youth on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1963 through the federal Office of Economic Opportunity and a host of welfare, counseling and job initiatives, their ideas were turned into policy.

If crime was a rational response to income inequality, the thinking went, government can best fight it through social services and wealth redistribution, not through arrests and incarceration. Even law enforcement officials came to embrace the root causes theory, which let them off the hook for rising lawlessness. Through the late 1980s, the FBI’s annual national crime report included the disclaimer that “criminal homicide is largely a societal problem which is beyond the control of the police.” Policing, it was understood, can only respond to crime after the fact; preventing it is the domain of government welfare programs.

The 1960s themselves offered a challenge to the poverty-causes-crime thesis. Homicides rose 43%, despite an expanding economy and a surge in government jobs for inner-city residents. The Great Depression also contradicted the idea that need breeds predation, since crime rates dropped during that prolonged crisis. The academy’s commitment to root causes apologetics nevertheless persisted. Andrew Karmen of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice echoed Cloward and Ohlin in 2000 in his book “New York Murder Mystery.” Crime, he wrote, is “a distorted form of social protest.” And as the current recession deepened, liberal media outlets called for more government social programs to fight the coming crime wave. In late 2008, the New York Times urged President Barack Obama to crank up federal spending on after-school programs, social workers, and summer jobs. “The economic crisis,” the paper’s editorialists wrote, “has clearly created the conditions for more crime and more gangs—among hopeless, jobless young men in the inner cities.”

Even then crime patterns were defying expectations. And by the end of 2009, the purported association between economic hardship and crime was in shambles. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, homicide dropped 10% nationwide in the first six months of 2009; violent crime dropped 4.4% and property crime dropped 6.1%. Car thefts are down nearly 19%. The crime plunge is sharpest in many areas that have been hit the hardest by the housing collapse. Unemployment in California is 12.3%, but homicides in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reported recently, dropped 25% over the course of 2009. Car thefts there are down nearly 20%.

The recession crime free fall continues a trend of declining national crime rates that began in the 1990s, during a very different economy. The causes of that long-term drop are hotly disputed, but an increase in the number of people incarcerated had a large effect on crime in the last decade and continues to affect crime rates today, however much anti-incarceration activists deny it. The number of state and federal prisoners grew fivefold between 1977 and 2008, from 300,000 to 1.6 million.

The spread of data-driven policing has also contributed to the 2000s’ crime drop. At the start of the recession, the two police chiefs who confidently announced that their cities’ crime rates would remain recession-proof were Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton and New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. As New York Police Commissioner in the mid-1990s, Mr. Bratton pioneered the intensive use of crime data to determine policing strategies and to hold precinct commanders accountable—a process known as Compstat. Commissioner Kelly has continued Mr. Bratton’s revolutionary policies, leading to New York’s stunning 16-year 77% crime drop. The two police leaders were true to their word. In 2009, the city of L.A. saw a 17% drop in homicides, an 8% drop in property crimes, and a 10% drop in violent crimes. In New York, homicides fell 19%, to their lowest level since reliable records were first kept in 1963.

The Compstat mentality is the opposite of root causes excuse-making; it holds that policing can and must control crime for the sake of urban economic viability. More and more police chiefs have adopted the Compstat philosophy of crime-fighting and the information-based policing techniques that it spawned. Their success in lowering crime shows that the government can control antisocial behavior and provide public safety through enforcing the rule of law. Moreover, the state has the moral right and obligation to do so, regardless of economic conditions or income inequality

The recession could still affect crime rates if cities cut their police forces and states start releasing prisoners early. Both forms of cost-saving would be self-defeating. Public safety is the precondition for thriving urban life. In 1990s New York, crime did not drop because the economy improved; rather, the city’s economy revived because crime was cut in half

It should always be remembered that the only absolutely necessary function of government is protection: of the nation by armed defense against foreign attack, and of individuals by means of the law.