Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Consider, it's starting to look like Hillary may indeed be the default candidate for the Democrats. Oh Sanders might give her a few fits and starts, and O'Malley may finally get off the dime, but it's not looking like either will make much of an impact. Fiorina has shown she is very good at exposing Hillary and the Clinton machine. She would runs rings around Hillary in a debate with none of this "sexist male" bullshit to contend with. In fact if I were a Hillary advisor I wouldn't let her debate Fiorina.
Women are now 54% of the registered voters in this country, identity politics are part and parcel to today's political environment and she negates that issue immediately. She takes so many angles of attack away from the Dems (she will be impossible to "Palenize") and opens up so many for Republicans, I'm almost salivating thinking about it.
So, Cruz can't win because of guys like CW. Bush can't win because of guys like me. Rubio is certainly capable but too young and inexperienced in my view (a good VP choice however). The 15 or 20 other declared candidates from Ben Carson to Rand Paul to Mike Huckabee to Lindsey Graham (Good Lord!) will be culled from the herd in short order. Right now I'm going with competence, experience, gender (I know, what can I say?) and toughness. She's the real deal, an American Maggie Thatcher and I think she'd make one helluva President.
This has been a tough stretch for American traditionalists of all stripes. From the preference cascade toppling Confederate iconography to a couple of Supreme Court decisions that overturned, according to some, the "rule of law," it feels as though American traditionalism, by which term I include "American-greatness" nationalism, secular and religious social conservatism, a romantic love of our history and its symbols, a "long-historical" view of the Constitution, a particular conception of the family and its role, and a longing for the apparent consensus in such things that prevailed in American life until the late 1960s, is on life support. It is, for any number of reasons discussed below. The ultimate question is, what are traditionalists going to do about it?
Trigger warning: Generalizations follow. Try not to miss the forest for the trees.
Traditionalism in the West began its long collapse 100 years ago with the exhaustion of the old European monarchies at the end of World War I, the defeat of fascism (which, in Italy and Spain, positioned itself on the side of the traditionalists, especially the Roman Church), and the rise of revolutionary Communism. Traditionalism (including such things as church-going) eroded in Europe rapidly during the 20th century. It persisted and even thrived in the American national consensus, however, until the mid-1960s for several reasons. Among them, the United States had shut down immigration in the 1920s, and therefore did not have to adjust itself to the different values and culture of new waves of immigrants as it had in the past, and would have to do again. Also, the country faced three truly monumental challenges in the Great Depression, World War II, and the dangerous early years of the Cold War. The national response to these crises drove a broad political and cultural unanimity, including explicitly by dint of propaganda and implicitly by necessity -- one cannot alienate large parts of the population and contend with a wave of national emergencies. Mid-century American traditionalism was therefore built on a foundation of homogeneity and national crisis.
Traditionalism in the United States probably reached its modern high water mark in the mid-1950s, cresting on the shoals of Brown v. Board of Education, the political defeat of McCarthyism, the rise of new voices in American culture who strained against the stultifying pressure to conform, the stabilization of the Cold War after Korea, and the surging prosperity of the middle class in the Post-War boom. To pick one measure of the crest of the wave, and only one, consider this graph of religiosity in American life:
Then the 1960s happened. This is not the place to rehash the causes and consequences of the titanic upheaval in American life from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s. Suffice it to say that some combination of the national shock of the civil rights movement and the response thereto, the collapse in trust in American institutions following Vietnam and Watergate, the resulting rehabilitation of Marxism and Marxism-lite in academic and cultural circles, the birth control pill, the reopening of our borders, the growing cultural, political, and social influence of groups other than male WASPs, the proliferation of media voices and related technological changes, the rise of the trial lawyers and the "safety" culture, and the huge expansion of big American universities fueled in no small measure by Vietnam-era draft deferment rules, tremendously accelerated the erosion of American traditionalism. With bumps along the way, the traditionalist values from the very malign (white supremacy) to the very important (opposition to out-of-wedlock childbirth) fell away among the chattering classes, and retained respectability among only the "great unwashed," as Mencken might have said, or a few iconoclasts.
Like them or not, the social solvent of the 1960 abraded and even destroyed one traditional American value after another. These include, in no particular order of goodness or badness, white supremacy, the importance of durable marriage as a precondition to pregnancy or at least children, an understanding of the history of the United States as both exceptional and superior and widespread acceptance of our defining stories, the idea that our national heroes were worthy of emulation and adulation, love of country as an inherent virtue, the importance of risk-taking, the chance to recover from failure, self-reliance as a matter of personal honor, the profound belief that the foreign policy of the United States goes beyond our direct national interest to make the world a freer place, enterprise as an inherent good, the church as an important center of public life (especially outside of big cities), the relevance of religious teaching in the shaping of individual character, a widely-held ideal division of labor within families, the wisdom of ordinary folk and skepticism of the elites, modesty in matters of dress and sex and decorum in speech, fidelity in sexual relations, conventionality in sexual practices and orientation, and baseball. There are no doubt others that elude me on a beer-sodden weekend afternoon.
Even today's most reactionary social conservatives would agree that some of these values were deplorable from the start -- apart from a tiny number of extremists, essentially nobody actually defends white supremacy -- and that some have out-lived their usefulness. As well, certain traditional values retain enough support, in the abstract, at least, that politicians who have little good to say about traditionalism nevertheless pander to them (so far, all national politicians have to appear to like church and believe in God). But in the main, all of the traditional values above have been in substantial retreat for more than 40 years. Which is a long time.
The question is, what are traditionalists going to do to turn the tide of public opinion?
Let's get one obvious point out of the way: Courts and a few politicians from red jurisdictions and districts are not going to help over the long term. Indeed, a massive conservative landslide (and we've had two since 2010) has not been terribly useful for traditionalists.
The churches remain a great force for traditionalism in American life, but they are in perhaps permanent decline. The United States has regularly passed through spiritual "great awakenings," but I wonder if history will ever repeat itself in this regard. The sheer volume of the cultural pressure coming is so great that it is hard to see how at least Judeo-Christian religion can recover significant lost ground. And, in any case, "because God said so" is an especially discredited argument when its most visible adherents are murderous barbarians.
A top-down strategy might work at some level -- Glenn Reynolds' longstanding suggestion that conservatives buy or start a few women's magazines is an example. The various conservative outlets of News Corp is another. These certainly help, insofar as they create economic opportunity and a paying audience for traditionalist writers and producers. Unfortunately, that still leaves the real engines of cultural influence -- universities, which teach the next generation (and the teachers who teach them) and do the academic work necessary to change elite opinion, and artists, broadly defined to include the many creative types in American life who write the scripts and jokes, produce the television, sing the songs, design the clothing, and so forth -- as profoundly anti-traditionalist.
Of course, artists have been anti-traditionalist since they stopped having to depend on kings and rich people for their commissions. (The creative class types also often have gay friends if they are not gay themselves, which makes gay rights a personal matter.) Academia, not so much. The generations of professors who became adults carrying a rifle at Gettysburg, in the Argonne, on Omaha Beach or on the shores of Iwo Jima may have often been Democrats, but they weren't traditionalist ideologues by any stretch of the imagination. After all, their experiences taught them that traditionalist America, shortcomings notwithstanding, could accomplish great and important things.
American academia began its profoundly anti-traditionalist march with the Vietnam War and its aftermath. A few trends conspired simultaneously. We allowed draft deferments for men who went to graduate school, and the Great Society massively expanded federal subsidies for universities to accommodate them. PhD programs ballooned, and the people who entered them hid a certain shame behind their righteous attacks on the alleged depredations of American foreign policy. Better to have undermined an evil war than to have shirked a just one, so this generation of academics was going to be damned certain our war in Vietnam never would be respectable. Do not underestimate the massive and continuing influence of the Vietnam academics and their intellectual progeny -- they have had a devastating impact on traditionalism in the United States.
Academics continue to be very left-wing compared even to similarly educated professionals, and the question is why. My strong suspicion is that it comes to money. From a post I wrote a few years ago:
[T]here are now wide disparities in compensation between professors and similarly trained and qualified people who went into business or an allied profession (such as law). This is a relatively new development. Forty years ago, the starting salaries for newly minted assistant professors and junior associates in New York law firms were almost identical. Now the new lawyers start with 2-3 times the salary of the professors and the disparity can quickly widen to 10-20 times. Obviously, the pay gap between top academics and top corporate executives is even wider. All of this means that any professor younger than about 45 today made a conscious decision to give up a massive amount of money. Since that is a sacrifice by any measure, it is natural that many professors need some reassurance that they made the right choice. Deciding that the business life is shallow and depraved is, for most of them, ample validation.In short, many professors need to be left-wing in order to understand the choices that they have made. (Note that this seems far less true in the hard sciences, perhaps because so few physicists imagine that they should have gone to business school or law school.)
So is all lost? How will traditionalists turn, or at least stem, the cultural tide against them?
A national crisis -- a real one in which we are all actually in great jeopardy, not the weak shit we declare a "crisis" these days -- might do the job, at least with regard to those traditionalist values relating to love of country, national confidence, sense of community, faith in God, and so forth. Hoping for a national calamity that visits death and misery on millions does not seem like good politics, though, and in any case hope is not a strategy.
The question for traditionalists who have the potential to be artists and intellectuals is this: Are they are willing to do the hard work to enter academia and the arts in sufficient numbers to change the trajectory of American culture? To do this, traditionalists probably need to do several things. First, they need to want to do. This will be challenging for traditionalists, because most people do not want to immerse themselves in a hostile environment, and it is hard to move your career forward when you are seen as an iconoclast. This is why conservative academics, who are at least slightly more numerous than it seems, often hide their politics until they are well-established. Second, traditionalists probably need to refine their traditionalism to abandon those beliefs that if expressed will destroy their careers aborning. White supremacy, for example, is a big-time loser, to put it mildly. Love the United States overtly, but gain a new perspective, if you need one, on the CSA. Learn to see gay people as fully as moral as you are, if you haven't already. Third, traditionalists need to develop principled and even utilitarian arguments to support traditional values, because "God said so" probably will not fly again in the United States. This is not to say that traditionalists should not become ardent defenders of the First Amendment, including especially the free exercise clause, but that overt faith-based arguments (as opposed to covert ones) will not make much progress in the wider culture. Fourth, learn to spot your likely allies and co-opt them. Latinos are natural traditionalists, if only "Anglo" traditionalists would wake up and realize they are the new Irish.
Is any of this likely to happen? I don't know, but it would seem more satisfying to hope for a traditionalist infiltration in to our cultural institutions than a national cataclysm, or endless braying at the moon or on Twitter in bootless frustration.
Brief addendum: David Brooks has a proposal along different lines this morning.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Ok, let's do a little brushing up shall we?
The Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Now, if you think the Supreme Court's rulings this week are consistent with this Amendment, then you may leave now. There's a beer in the fridge. But if you don't then please allow me to introduce you to the concept of nullification. It goes like this. The Constitution was ratified by various and INDEPENDENT States in order to join "a more perfect union". The Constitution was the contract so to speak. You can't change a contract unless BOTH sides agree. Washington has changed that contract therefore it is within the individual State's RIGHTS AND DUTIES to unilaterally NULLIFY this overreach. The mechanics are the State's governing body meets, debates and votes on the law just like any other law, prohibiting the enacting or enforcement of the Federal "law" within the borders of the State. The other States can do as they damn well please, but the law in said State is NULLIFIED, it doesn't exist.
Now, this has been tried many times over the years (Wisconsin tried it with the Fugitive Slave Act) and always shot down by the FEDERAL courts. But come on, would we allow one of the parties in a contract dispute to arbitrate that dispute? It's ridiculous on its face. Would nullification work? Probably not, in fact HELL NO! But according to my information there are 24 States currently controlled 100% by Republicans. If we got everyone of those States to pass at least a resolution condemning either one or both of these insane decisions then that would send a STRONG political message to the Federal government, the judiciary and the country that this fight is far from over. Or...ORRRR we can whine and bitch and moan and take it up the Hershey Highway just loving being one of Obama's bitches, just like our Country Club Republicans. Actually I doubt our Establishment types will even complain.
So, there you have it. We can push back, buck up our side and raise the blood pressure of the other side. We can change the narrative and "have a conversation" on what the Constitution and federalism means...or we can play dead. What's it gonna be?
Saturday, June 27, 2015
So the grumbling that I have to share with you isn't the grumbling of a fifty year old fellow, so much as it is more importantly, the grumbling of me.
This has been a tough week to be a Conservative. Two major Supreme Court cases went against several fundamental precepts of conservatism, and while the practical RESULT of either of them is minimal, the degree to which an ideology that I hold dear is under siege concerns me. To explain, I'll start with the gay marriage decision.
As Tigerhawk has pointed out, 200,000,000 Americans already enjoyed the right to marry across gender lines, and so that the remaining third of us have now been placed under that umbrella is not so much of a seismic shift. And as I wrote yesterday, as a matter of personal politics, my objections to government having a role in marriage AT ALL render me at best happy that my gay friends now have this right, and at worst, thoroughly neutral on the outcome.
What bothered me about the outcome though, was process, and John Yoo fantastically captures my reservations in this piece from the Philly Inquirer this morning. My greatest concern isn't that some kind of traditional view of marriage has been overturned with this decision, it is that we continue to slide into judicial relativism, where feelings and "dignity" trump law and precedent. I have many, many learned friends who have taken to Facebook and Twitter to trumpet their approval of this decision, giving the impression that there is some kind of a race for the cool-kids to demonstrate their credibility as soon as possible by the use of some kind of rainbow symbology. What I have NOT seen yet has been a single (liberal) gay marriage supporter who has taken the time to read Justice Anthony Kennedy's decision and find within it recourse to law and precedent. Conversely, these same triumphalists are cutting and pasting the final paragraph of Kennedy's opinion and applying universal approval to it. So that you may be informed, I repeat it here in its entirety:
"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."
This is breathtakingly good emotional narrative, but as a matter of law it strikes me as a bit, well, thin. It struck Charles C.W. Cooke as thin too, and his angst as a supporter of gay marriage but wary of how we now have it is instructive.
Not only was the majority opinion in this case thinly argued and thinly supported, Chief Justice Roberts' dissent was majestic and well-reasoned, and where even he skates out onto some thin, emotional, narrative, he STILL brings the question BACK to the Constitution: ""If you are among the many Americans -- of whatever sexual orientation -- who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."
THIS was the John Roberts we (Conservatives) thought we were getting when GWB nominated him. I urge you to do a little side by side of Kennedy's majority decision and Roberts' dissent--and see who gets the better of it. You can believe with every ounce of your being that gay people SHOULD have the right to marry in the United States, and you can STILL come to conclude that THIS case was wrongly decided on its merits. Remember--200,000,000 Americans ALREADY ENJOYED THIS RIGHT, and clearly the issue was moving in this direction. But this is exactly what POLITICS is supposed to do--to address issues of governance and fairness and so on.
Roberts' dissent in the gay marriage case reinforces for me a dark view that he has personally become a "political" figure. After authoring the majority opinion on Obamacare passed down the day before, an opinion in which he looked us all in the legal eye and said, "I know what the statute says, but that isn't what it means--I know better", Roberts has become a whipping boy for Conservatives (well-earned, I may add). His tortured rendering of the law has saved Obamacare twice now, once in a case in which he established the precedent that the Federal Government does indeed have the power to force you to engage in commerce, and now with a decision in which the word "State" apparently means, "State or Federal or Administrative". So now with this gay marriage dissent, Roberts attempts to wrap himself in the mantle of adherence to law and precedent, citing thousands of years of historical examples of marriage and taking pages from the Nino Scalia book of inspired dissent writing. It is as if he sat down with his law clerks and said, "I've done incredible damage to my credibility as a conservative jurist with the ACA case, so I need to re-establish it with my dissent on the gay marriage case. Whip me up a little red meat for the mob." Frankly, I am whipsawed by his legal, political, and ideological evolution JUST WITHIN THESE TWO CASES, and I can only conclude that he is personally--highly political.
But--he's also the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. And we already have two political branches of government.
Is there any hope?
I suppose. As a political matter, conservatives have to hope two things happen over the next year. The first is that these two cases--huge and seismic cases--come to (against the backdrop of six and a half years of Obamanism) be seen by the apolitical/swing voters as representing over-reach. That while they may be in favor of gay marriage personally, they don't like it being forced on the country. That they may be in favor of broader health care coverage and a loss of the fear of losing coverage when one loses a job--they are uncomfortable with being forced into it and they are uncomfortable with the lies they were told in order to achieve it.
The second hope is that whoever our 2016 standard-bearer is ably taps into this uneasiness--not by reinforcing it so much as describing a positive view of how he or she will move us away from it. This is NOT the time to take to the barricades on gay marriage. This is the time to take to the barricades on religious freedom, to ensure that the HUGE number of people in this country whose beliefs prohibit them from celebrating this decision are not trampled underfoot by the colorful celebrating and the social media preening. This is the time to move forward with market oriented, conservative policy changes to OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, and NOT to Obamacare. Keep in mind, for a great many of us--probably a majority--Obamacare has changed OUR interaction with the system only by making it more expensive for us.
Keep the dream of Obamacare repeal alive, but recognize that it is a DREAM. That unless we achieve the White House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate (plus a couple of votes to account for squishy Republicans), the best we are going to be able to do is to make changes to the system that apply our principles, as the Democrats successfully achieved in 2010.
To conclude--I'm tickled pink this morning, and thoroughly ecstatic about being 50. My grumblings are quite detached from my age.
Friday, June 26, 2015
Date Country City/State Killed Injured Description
3/19/2002 USA Tuscon, AZ 1 0 A 60-year-old man is gunned down by Muslim snipers on a golf course.
5/27/2002 USA Denton, TX 1 0 Muslim snipers kill a man as he works in his yard.
7/4/2002 USA Los Angeles, CA 2 0 Muslim man pulls out a gun at the counter of an Israeli airline and kills two people.
9/5/2002 USA Clinton, MD 1 0 A 55-year-old pizzaria owner is shot six times in the back by Muslims at close range.
9/21/2002 USA Montgomery, AL 1 1 Muslim snipers shoot two women, killing one.
9/23/2002 USA Baton Rouge, LA 1 0 A Korean mother is shot in the back by Muslim snipers.
10/2/2002 USA Wheaton, MD 1 0 Muslim snipers gun down a program analyst in a store parking lot.
10/3/2002 USA Montgomery County, MD 5 0 Muslim snipers kill three men and two women in separate attacks over a 15-hour period.
10/9/2002 USA Manassas, VA 1 1 A man is killed by Muslim snipers while pumping gas two days after a 13-year-old is wounded by the same team.
10/11/2002 USA Fredericksburg, VA 1 0 Another man is killed by Muslim snipers while pumping gas.
10/14/2002 USA Arlington, VA 1 0 A woman is killed by Muslim snipers in a Home Depot parking lot.
10/22/2002 USA Aspen Hill, MD 1 0 A bus driver is killed by Muslim snipers.
8/6/2003 USA Houston, TX 1 0 After undergoing a 'religious revival', a Saudi college student slashes the throat of a Jewish student with a 4" butterfly knife, nearly decapitating the young man.
12/2/2003 USA Chicago, IL 1 0 A Muslim doctor deliberately allows a Jewish patient to die from an easily treatable condition.
4/13/2004 USA Raleigh, NC 1 4 An angry Muslim runs down five strangers with a car.
4/15/2004 USA Scottsville, NY 1 2 In an honor killing, a Muslim father kills his wife and attacks his two daughters with a knife and hammer because he feared that they had been sexually molested.
6/16/2006 USA Baltimore, MD 1 0 A 62-year-old Jewish moviegoer is shot to death by a Muslim gunman in an unprovoked terror attack.
6/25/2006 USA Denver, CO 1 5 Saying that it was 'Allah's choice', a Muslim shoots four of his co-workers and a police officer.
7/28/2006 USA Seattle, WA 1 5 An 'angry' Muslim-American uses a young girl as hostage to enter a local Jewish center, where he shoots six women, one of whom dies.
1/1/2008 USA Irving, TX 2 0 A Muslim immigrant shoots his two daughters to death on concerns about their 'Western' lifestyle.
7/6/2008 USA Jonesboro, GA 1 0 A devout Muslim strangles his 25-year-old daughter in an honor killing.
2/12/2009 USA Buffalo, NY 1 0 The founder of a Muslim TV station beheads his wife in the hallway for seeking a divorce.
4/12/2009 USA Phoenix, AZ 2 0 A man shoots his brother-in-law and another man to death after finding out that they visited a strip club, in contradiction to Islamic values.
6/1/2009 USA Little Rock, AR 1 1 A Muslim shoots a local soldier to death inside a recruiting center explicitly in the name of Allah.
11/2/2009 USA Glendale, AZ 1 1 A woman dies from injuries suffered when her father runs her down with a car for being too 'Westernized.' (10-20-09)
11/5/2009 USA Ft. Hood, TX 13 31 A Muslim psychiatrist guns down thirteen unarmed soldiers while yelling praises to Allah.
12/4/2009 USA Binghamton, NY 1 0 A non-Muslim Islamic studies professor is stabbed to death by a Muslim grad student in revenge for 'persecuted' Muslims.
4/14/2010 USA Marquette Park, IL 5 2 After quarrelling with his wife over Islamic dress, a Muslim convert shoots his family members to 'take them back to Allah' and out of the 'world of sinners'.
4/30/2011 USA Warren, MI 1 0 A 20-year-old woman is shot in the head by her stepfather for not adhering to Islamic practices.
9/11/2011 USA Waltham, MA 3 0 Three Jewish men have their throats slashed by Muslim terrorists.
1/15/2012 USA Houston, TX 1 0 A 30-year-old Christian convert is shot to death by a devout Muslim.
2/7/2013 USA Buena Vista, NJ 2 0 A Muslim targets and beheads two Christian Coptic immigrants.
3/24/2013 USA Ashtabula, OH 1 0 A Muslim convert walks into a church service with a Quran and guns down his Christian father while praising Allah.
4/15/2013 USA Boston, MA 3 264 Foreign-born Muslims describing themselves as 'very religious' detonate two bombs packed with ball bearings at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and causing several more to lose limbs.
4/19/2013 USA Boston, MA 1 1 Jihadists gun down a university police officer sitting in his car.
8/4/2013 USA Richmond, CA 1 0 A convert "on a mission from Allah" stabs a store clerk to death.
3/6/2014 USA Port Bolivar, TX 2 0 A Muslim man shoots his lesbian daughter and her lover to death and leaves a copy of the Quran open to a page condemning homosexuality.
4/27/2014 USA Skyway, WA 1 0 A 30-year-old man is murdered by a Muslim fanatic.
6/1/2014 USA Seattle, WA 2 0 Two homosexuals are murdered by an Islamic extremist.
6/25/2014 USA West Orange, NJ 1 0 A 19-year-old college student is shot to death 'in revenge' for Muslim deaths overseas.
9/25/2014 USA Moore, OK 1 1 A Sharia advocate beheads a woman after calling for Islamic terror and posting an Islamist beheading photo.
Same-sex couples may now marry throughout the United States. This is a result, even if not a means to a result, that I have publicly supported for more than 11 years, eight years before Barack Obama. I am very happy for my gay friends today.
If we are permitted to descend to the political for a moment, it would be very smart for Republicans in general and GOP presidential candidates specifically to move the frack on. My recommended statement: "While some of us may have opposed this result as passionately as others favored it, the Supreme Court has now determined that couples of the same sex may marry throughout the United States, a ruling that will bring many people joy along with equality before the law. We call upon all Americans, regardless of their support of or opposition to the result in the Obergefell case, to consider the matter settled. We have important problems to solve as a nation, none of which will get closer to a solution if we beat each other to a pulp in the hope of obstructing the Court's purpose or of overturning this case many years hence."
Or words to that effect.
While you were sleeping, or perhaps plotting your next social media move or counter-move in the argument over Confederate iconography, the utterly meaningless spat over the latest eruption from the SCOTUS over the Affordable Care Act, or the essential truth or not in something Ann Coulter may or may not have recently said, Islamic terrorists were cutting off a head at a French chemical plant, shooting up a lot of tourists in Tunisia, and blowing up a mosque in Kuwait. This is one day's work, folks.
It is fashionable of late to argue that since September 11, 2001 "right wing" terrorism has killed more Americans inside our borders than Islamic terrorism over the same period (alleged body count 48 to 26 over around 14 years). Suppose that is true: So what? Islamic terrorism has killed many more Americans -- never mind other people -- elsewhere in the world. Per the freaking Guardian, Islamic terrorists whacked almost 18,000 people of all nationalities in 2013, rising from around 3400 in 2000 (before, we note, any meaningful American retaliation).
Transnational progressives are keen on thinking of themselves as citizens of the world and love looking elsewhere for precedent, best practices, and socialism to emulate, right up until transnationalism undermines their point instead of supporting it. Hence the careful shaving of data comparing 48 deaths to 26, starting right after 9/11 and ending exactly at our borders.
Why should Americans care if virtually all of these murders occur outside our borders? The reasons are legion. First, the problem is growing rapidly, with deaths up six-fold from 2000 to 2013, and up 60% alone in that last year. A few more years of double-digit growth and you will have a real slaughter on your hands. Even if they are, you know, foreigners or Americans silly enough to leave the metropolitan United States. Second, with growth that fast, why do we think the problem will not spread to our shores? Even if American Muslims remain loyal (as they manifestly have to date), are we so confident in our border security that we expect to keep these bastards out? Third, the Islamists are closing the borders of the world. The United States will become a much smaller country if we redefine the security of our citizens to mean only security inside our borders.
Regardless, the media will defend the Obama-Clinton foreign policy for at least the next 16 months. Expect more strange parsing of data and new definitions of actual security in the service of Clinton's campaign and President Obama's legacy. And by all means worry about the four people a year who die "because right wing extremists."
That said, I am bracing myself for today's decision, which is almost certainly going to uphold gay marriage as a Constitutional right.
Not because I would disagree with such a decision, though I might.
But because the smarmy, bootlicking, cool-kid, oh-so-nonjudgmental media will immediately claim yet another victory for President Obama, a man who was elected President looking straight into the cameras claiming that he believed marriage was between one man and one woman. All will be forgotten by the cloying toadies of the political-media complex.
Get it off your chest! This is the place to do it.
Although the final, "150's by 50" weigh in is tomorrow morning to align with my actual birthday, today's weigh in was 158.4, for a loss of 40.4 lbs since December 26. About 9.4 to go--stretch goal is "50 lbs in 50th year" (though I will technically be stretching it into my 51st....details).
As is mentioned above--the weather Gods are not on my side--likely no rain today, likely no rain Sunday--lots of rain Saturday. Oh well. To be surrounded by a bunch of people I love will make is sunny where I am, at least.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Next and probably more depressing was today's Supreme Court decision (6-3) in King v Burwell, or the latest Obamacare verdict. The decision can be found here.
I urge you to read it, both the Chief Justice's majority opinion and Justice Scalia's dissent.
There is talk all over social media about how this is a good decision for the GOP, that they get to keep the bleeding sore of Obamacare as an issue but don't have to do anything that they didn't want to have to do to fix it. As a matter of naked politics, I understand that. But I don't want to think about naked politics today.
I want you to read the Chief Justice's tortured, Orwellian rendering of our shared tongue, which Justice Scalia described thusly: "This case requires us to decide whether someone who buys insurance on an Exchange established by the Secretary gets tax credits. You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it. In order to receive any money under §36B, an individual must enroll in an insurance plan through an “Exchange established by the State.” The Secretary of Health and Human Services is not a State. So an Exchange established by the Secretary is not an Exchange established by the State—which means people who buy health insurance through such an Exchange get no money under §36B. Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State.” "
And then contrast it with Justice Scalias words, for example: "The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so."
Not only has the Supreme Court suffered today--suffered in having once again become a legislative organ rather than a judicial one--but our common understanding of the English language has been done great violence, when a learned jurist with a straight face tells us that clear and and unambiguous language is not nearly so clear nor as unambiguous as one might think.
I read a New York Times blog piece (which I cannot unfortunately find right now) an hour ago in which the author asked the question, "why would states retain their exchanges in light of this decision?" What a good question. But not only is it a good question, but it is an OBVIOUS question. A question that six Supreme Court Justices should have more deeply considered when they decided that not only was there no meaning to the plain language of the statute, but that there was no rationale behind the creation of separate federal and state exchanges. But there was. They were created in order to shift costs to pliable states in order to keep the federal bill down. To provide incentives to states to do so, specific tax credits were legislated that applied to those who--here it comes--obtained their insurance on a state exchange. Our friend Jonathan Gruber made it very, very clear that this was what was behind the legislative decision to create separate exchanges. Now I know modern jurists of a certain ideology like to get at "meaning and intent" but the in this case, not only was the plain language interpretation clear and unambiguous, but the legislative history had enough doubt in it (see Gruber, J) to render the plain language interpretation unassailable. One would think.
But we don't live in those times. We live in times in which the Chief Justice--providing high cover for Justice Kennedy--have decided that their job is to save us from ourselves, that Congress is incapable of legislating for us and that the nation cannot bear the potential for chaos. Not that there would BE chaos, mind you, just people not getting subsidies that they thought they were going to get. A matter of relatively quick legislative action for states or the Congress, but that is not now required, as the Supreme Legislature has ruled.
This is a dark day and I am in a foul mood.
There are two groups I can think of that are treated as victims of a power structure hellbent on keeping them down (with socialists riding to the rescue of course): American blacks and the British WHITE lower class. Not surprisingly they act (or act out) in very similar ways. Tom Sowell nailed it a couple of years ago. I reference this as proof these people are just manipulative, power hungry bastards without a modicum of care or respect for humanity.
So, for all the lunkheads out there who thought they would put racial strife behind us by electing an unqualified, smooth talking, black version of a Marlboro Man, then guess again. American socialists/fascists/communists/race-hustlers will NEVER give up black victimhood. When one victory is achieved (like getting rid of the Confederate Flag) the goalposts will just change. Black grievance is too valuable (and too profitable) to be given up.
DID you see our NC Republican Legislature gave up on voter id? Yep, they rolled over quicker than a ladyboy in a Thai alternative lifestyle cathouse. I'm sure most of you aren't too familiar with North Carolina politics, but let's just say we have our share of Boehners and McCarthys and McConnells. Anyway, rather than show a free ID issued by the NCDMV now you can vote if you sign an affidavit attesting to how the burden of getting your FREE ID was too much to bear and you'll do it later, maybe, if you feel like it...possibly. As a matter of fact the door to voter fraud was opened a little wider. Wow, some bunch of conservatives we have in Raleigh these days.
Here's the deal, we have NO Constitutional RIGHT to vote. None whatsoever Goddammit (look it up). So, in order to vote one must be eligible and PROVE their eligibility. The burden is not on the State to prove you are ineligible otherwise you vote. For example, if a Doctor wished to practice medicine in the State of North Carolina it is up to the doctor to prove his eligibility for a medical license. The argument that "it's ok, I'm eligible, I'll get back to you with that medical degree thingy" wouldn't fly (at least not yet). It's just common sense. Furthermore, who goes through life without proper identification? And if voting is such a priority why are you walking around with a Foodlion rewards card as your only ID? When some ineligible asshole votes, he/she negates a vote by an ELIGIBLE VOTER denying them the franchise. Where the hell is the outrage about that?
CONGRATS to CW's University of Virginia for their first ever College World Series win. UVA baseball has been a bright spot in an otherwise traumatic year (sports and otherwise) in Charlottesville. According to my information this makes 19 National Championships won by the Wahoos over the years in such sports as women's track and field, men and women's lacrosse and soccer (you know, the pussy sports). So this first championship in an American game is just great. Well done!
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
The system supporting this massive bureaucracy is administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which it was recently revealed had its IT system compromised and the personal data (including mine) of as many as 14 million people has been siphoned off. All signs point to the People's Republic of China as being behind this act, yet our President has yet to publicly discuss responsibility, either for the breach (China) or for allowing it to happen (OPM).
This Administration has for most of its time in office, mishandled the China account, seeing in its rise a sense of inevitability that relieves it of any responsibility for real statecraft, nuanced or power-based. Like so many of Mr. Obama's other mistakes, the strawman supports his view here, and it goes something like, "what are we going to do, go to war with 1/5 of the world's population"? This then, relieves him of having to think clearly about what OTHER things can be done short of war.
As my friend Misha Auslin wrote recently, it is time to stop treating China as a partner, and recognize that we are engaged in a new great power competition. This recognition SHOULD be the big story upon which we concentrate, but instead, we are talking about Confederate flags.
Others on this blog have beaten this subject to a fare thee well, and so I will only say that while I have a personal dislike for the sight of the Confederate flag, I continue to maintain a steadfast allegiance to the First Amendment and the right of others to festoon their autos, houses, flag poles or upper arms with representations of something I hold in low regard. Where I depart the pattern is when government supports, nay, requires the appearance of such a symbol.
We have as a country, spent an inordinate amount of time over the past week in a great national Oprah show, trying to blame the actions of a mentally ill, racist, terrorist on the flying of a flag, without much irony in explaining how that flag accounted for such acts of domestic terrorism elsewhere in the country. All the while, a foreign flag is conducting its own acts of terrorism against us.
Who does this extended dialogue on flags and race serve? Why, Hillary Clinton of course, and Barack Obama. Hillary has all of a sudden become the great friend of race relations as she attempts to cobble together the Obama coalition of 2008/2012. Tigerhawk has appropriately identified the naked political angle here, as in 2008 her bread was buttered on low Black voter turnout, whereas her 2016 future hangs on it. More importantly though, if the OPM's oversight of personal information was so easily obtained by Chinese hackers, are we to believe that Mrs. Clinton's basement server was somehow more secure? Remember folks--Mrs. Clinton claims to have ONLY used her personal email address(es) during her time as Secretary to transact the business of that office. She has not made those emails available for Congressional scrutiny, only the ones that her team cleared for sharing. Wrapping herself in the flag of the anti-flag movement comes at a particularly serendipitous time for the former Secretary.
And how is Mr. Obama served by the Great Flag Debate? Why, the more we talk about it, the less he is identified once again with MASSIVE failure of government. How soon we forget the collossal failure of the Obamacare exchanges--both state and federal? Not only is failure endemic to this administration, but no one seems to be fired except Generals who blab to Rolling Stone. There is no responsibility, there is no accountability.
I do not raise all this to minimize the deaths of 9 innocent people in South Carolina. I simply wish to urge my fellow citizens to keep our eye on the ball, on the long term, and on the strategic.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Here's one thing for damn sure, the federal government of the United States is completely inept at information technology. Forget the managerial calamity popularly known as healthcare.gov. In the last few weeks, we have had the national security disaster no one will talk about, and now this:
The United States has been unable to issue visas to travelers around the world for two weeks because of a computer hardware failure that remains unresolved, State Department officials said Monday....In other words, "top men."
“We are working around the clock to fix it,” John Kirby, a department spokesman, said Monday. “More than 100 computer experts from both the private and public sectors across the United States are working on this.”
One would think that this would be the subject of, you know, reporting. Voters concerned with good government might be interested in knowing who ran the State Department when this system was put in, for example. But since that information might reflect poorly on the managerial competence of the leading Democratic presidential candidate, there is very little risk that journalism will happen.
I cannot imagine a more useful idiot than John Boehner. After he and his minions lied to us, repeatedly, to our face, about repealing Obamacare et al. we gave him the biggest Republican majority in decades. We also gave him a Republican Senate, in fact we gave him everything he needed to put the brakes on all things Obama. And how were we repaid? He betrayed us at every turn that's how. Last year he took the budget (and Obamacare) off the table so fast people were running around like shellshocked Dresden survivors wondering what the hell just happened. Now he wants to give Obama more unchecked power beyond the reach of voters or our Constitution.
What's happening you might ask? The Chamber of Commerce is what's happening. People tend to think of the Chamber as a collection of small businesses, you know, your locally owned Ace Hardware kinda thing. Not so my friend. The Chamber is JP Morgan on the phone barking orders at Senators. It's the big banks pushing us into World War I so the British will hand over Palestine. It's the reason LBJ went to Congress in 1939 without a pot to piss in and left thirty years later worth 50 million dollars. It's Bill Clinton's $500,000 speaking fees, his Gulfstream and his blowjobs at 30,000 feet.
The Chamber is not about capitalism as we understand it. It's not about national sovereignty or the rights of man or border security or any of the major issues of the day. Its about power and profit. It's about accessing cheap labor and capital, keeping government interference to a minimum and ringing that Goddamned cash register. It's about making money as fast as possible any and every way you can. It's about controlling markets and reducing risk. What it's NOT about is competition, and it's CERTAINLY NOT about countries or people or "so called" rights.
A lot of folks accuse me of some sort of neo-Marxism when I talk like this. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm down with the profit thing. I get it. But big business has no more to do with the libertarian, laissez faire view of capitalism (the most essential component of freedom) than an Allis Chalmers tractor has to do with the Daytona 500. As Milton Friedman said, "The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm, capitalism is that kind of a system". The Chamber of Commerce has no more interest in free enterprise capitalism than Caitlyn Jenner has in Katy Perry's tits.
So, what Boehner and company are doing is setting up a system where greed goes unchecked. A new corporate world order run by the likes of Soros and Buffett, and make no mistake, Big Business loves Big Government (and vis versa). A system whereby the 10% at the top control all the money and resources, where there's no upward mobility and everybody (apart from the 10%) have their EBT cards and government healthcare. In a nutshell, a system run by and for large corporations.
This isn't capitalism and this isn't freedom. This is power and control. But what the hell, let's keep talking about Confederate Battle flags and gay marriage (OH LOOK, THERE'S SOMETHING SHINY!) while these bought and paid for politicians give away our future to gangsters.