This Sunday, Super Bowl XLVIII (48) will be played in an open-air stadium, built atop a New Jersey swamp, in 2 degree weather, while pretending it’s actually taking place in New York.
I don’t know what confederacy of dunces within the NFL thought this was a good idea. It might be the worst idea. It’s shaping up to be the saddest Super Bowl ever.
For starters, it’s certainly going to be the coldest. Weather guys are talking about 2 to 7 degrees. Ticket prices are dropping by thousands of dollars. People are trying to get rid of their seats rather than sit through the pain of a sub-arctic February night outdoors. Not to mention the shlep. If it snows that day, the highways and byways between NY and NJ will become so impassable you’ll need to leave your family permanently and start a new one somewhere around Teaneck Township off of the I-80.
As far as the pre-game festivities, if there were ever a city that couldn’t give a f*** about something the rest of the country is excited about, it’s New York City. Specifically Manhattan. When the Super Bowl hits other cities, like Miami or New Orleans, all the stops are pulled out and the week-long party literally takes over the town. The locals get into the spirit, businesses play it up and people from around the country (along with their tourism dollars) are welcomed warmly. ...
The two main focal points for the [“New York”] pre-game “party” are located at Times Square and Herald Square. There are two places in Manhattan that no native New Yorker will ever set foot in, for any reason, ever: Times Square and Herald Square. I know people who’ve quit jobs or broken up relationships because their route involved traipsing through either of these places. Times Square is essentially a petting zoo New Yorkers have set up so that they can see real-live Americans up-close in a protected environment and maybe feed them something. Herald Square, the triangle anchored by Macy*s, is what your town’s main strip mall would look like if they were to airlift unnavigable crowds and an aggressive traffic snarl right smack in front of it and slather the pavement in a gauzy layer of perma-grime and chewed gum.
Read the whole thing.
And it’s not only the weather, the characteristic obnoxia of New Yorkers, and the lack of suitable locations to party in Manhattan that represent unpleasant aspects of the situation. If you choose to attend, you are going to have the endemic chickenshit fascism of rustbucket Northeastern governments to put up with as well.
CNS Sports warns:
It doesn’t matter if you’ve dropped thousands of dollars on tickets. It doesn’t matter if you’ve traveled 3,000 miles to get there. And it doesn’t matter if you offer to shovel the snow that’s sure to come to the Meadowlands.
You will not be allowed to tailgate at Super Bowl XLVIII. Unless you literally stay inside your car while you do it.
“You will be allowed to have food in your car and have drink in your car,” game committee CEO Al Kelly said during a Monday news conference. “And provided you’re in the boundaries of a single parking space, you’ll be able to eat or drink right next to your car. However, you’re not going to be able to take out a lounge chair, you’re not going to be able to take out a grill, and you’re not going to be able to take up more than one parking space. And it’ll all be watched very carefully.” ...
Don’t even think about hiring a taxi or limo to drop you off at the front gates. If a car doesn’t have a parking pass, it won’t get near the stadium.
“Nobody’s going to be dropped off by black car,” Kelly said. “You can have a black car, a green car, a white car, a red car as long as you have parking, and the car needs to stay on the premises the entire time.”
Oh and by the way, there are only 13,000 parking spots for the use of fans.
Don’t even think about walking to the Super Bowl either.
“You can get your hotel to drop you off at one of the New Jersey Transit locations or get the shuttle to take you to a Fan Express location, but you cannot walk,” Smith said.
-Here’s one thing you can do. Take public transportation, or as ESPN New York explains, you can take a charter bus called the Fan Express, “which will cost $51 and pick up and drop off passengers at nine locations around the region.”
If it snows, it’s every man for himself. Hunger Games style.
In a famous case of overreaching, federal agents twice raided the renowned Gibson guitar company of Nashville, TN, for supposed violations of laws of Madagascar and of India. Madagascar and India had actually approved the export of the wood in question, but the feds were operating on the basis of their own interpretation of those foreign laws.
Curiously enough, the Martin guitar company, which uses exactly the same woods, but which donated money to democrat candidates was never bothered. Gibson’s CEO Henry Juszkiewicz was in the habit of making donations to Republican campaigns.
Though firmly asserting its innocence, the Gibson company ultimately concluded that it could not afford to spend millions of dollars fighting the case and settled, paying a $300,000 fine and contributing $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation “to promote the conservation of protected tree species.”
The feds sanctimoniously kept the Madagascar ebony in question, contending that Madagascar officials were “defrauded” by a local exporter about the nature of the product. But Gibson did get back all the seized Indian rosewood.
Gibson is commemorating its own persecution by producing a special “Government Series II Les Paul” model celebrating the return of its materials, complete with “fingerboards… made from solid rosewood returned to Gibson by the US government.”
This week Gibson has announced the “Government Series” of guitars, to celebrate the end of its tussle with the eager enforcers of the U.S. Customs Department.
It’s a series of guitars made, purportedly, with the very same wood that was seized by the United States government, which was later returned at the end of the fiasco.
Ladies and gentlemen, Here’s a photo of the Gibson Les Paul Government Series II. The body is painted in a custom color the company has named “Government Tan”—suitably drab—a nod to the joyless reality of living under the heavy thumb of stifling bureaucracy.
Ol’ Remus predicts what life will soon be like here on the farm.
There’s a rabid raccoon circling your livestock.
You go to your gun safe and enter your sixty-digit code, press the fingerprint-verification pad, put your eye to the retina reader, wait for the Instant Background Check, open the safe and get out the .22 single shot rifle, unlock the child safety lock and remove it, install the bolt in the rifle, take two rounds of ammo from your legal nine round supply, chamber the legal maximum of one round, enter the serial numbers of both rounds and their removal time on your web-based log. You close the gun safe, reactivate all the security and run out the door.
You dispatch said rabid raccoon. He was moving slow.
Back to the gun safe, enter your code, fingerprint pad, retina reader, open the safe, remove the bolt and store it, reinstall the child safety lock and replace the rifle, log the replacement time, verify the serial numbers of the expended rounds and close the gun safe. Then down to the State Police to turn in the fired cases, get fingerprinted, get a blood test and have an ankle bracelet installed.
Next day an official container arrives. You take the required raccoon parts from your freezer and the twelve-page notarized incident report, attach photos, an annotated map, your blood test results, the standard request for two rounds to be credited to your ammo allotment, and send it all in. Your ankle bracelet won’t be removed and your gun safe won’t be reopened until the incident report is approved. It’s just common sense.
Your case involves the taking of a cute animal for non-game purposes and so it wends its way through local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies. A hearing is scheduled requiring your presence at a city three hundred and eighty miles away. Your name is now on the no-fly list so you drive. You make your case to the review board.
Try walking into a government building these days, and you’ll meet them.
In one of his best essays, Dan Greenfield, last year, explains how far we have come from the free country invented by the framers. Today’s America is a socialist, paternalist, dirigiste, thoroughly-regulated bureaucracy and police state, in which your personal habits and bank account are public property and in which you need to be searched regularly.
The average American still holds the fanciful belief that, if he isn’t annoying anyone, he should be left alone. To the people running his country, this is as bizarre and unworkable as Phrenology or the Geocentric theory or handing out universal health care without also compelling everyone to buy it.
This is not a nation where people are left alone anymore. This is a nation where they are hounded from the moment they are born until the moment they die by the arms of a regulatory state run by men and women weaned on Cleaver, Alinsky, Fourier, Marx, Wells and countless others. This is a nation where, accordingly, being left alone is the greatest of luxuries.
It takes a lot of money to be left alone. Regulatory space is much more expensive than physical space, and buying it requires investing in lobbyists, fundraisers and lawyers. If you make the right payoffs, then you can buy the privilege of being left alone, exempted from regulations, going uninspected and protected against the agents of the state. But once you do that, you are no longer neutral. You have bought yourself the privilege of not being considered the problem; instead, you have become part of the solution for the people you are paying off.
The Americans bushwacked by ObamaCare, the scam artist’s dream of a tax paid to a third-party in exchange for benefits accrued to a fourth party, still thought they had the freedom to take the middle, to despise meddling politicians in both parties, ignore most things the government did, while living their own lives. They had seen their savings devalued, their homes seized, their lives bedeviled by a thousand regulations, but they still thought that it was possible to take a middle-ground, to reject the solutions by asserting that they are not the problem.
They did not understand that in Cleaverland, in Alinskytown and in Obamaville—no one opts out. Either you volunteer of you get drafted. Raise your hand or you will be called on anyway. Not volunteering to be part of their agenda means that you are the problem.
You, sitting right there in your chair, watching these words move across your screen, are the problem. A problem 311,591,917 human souls strong. You eat too much or you don’t pay enough taxes, you drive your car too often, you haven’t bought solar panels for your roof, you browse extremist websites when you should be browsing government informational sites for tips on how to do or not do all of the above. But most of all… you still don’t understand what a great problem you are for the people running this country into the ground between the Atlantic and the Pacific. They keep trying to solve you, but you don’t go away.
There is no neutrality when dealing with people who reject the very concept of neutrality. Who draw everyone into the long columns of their spreadsheets and catch everyone in their spider’s web. There is no middle ground with people who don’t believe there is a middle ground, who believe that every human on earth is part of the problem and can only opt out of being the problem by joining up with them and following their directives.
That is what we are up against. We confront the Great Solvers of the Human Problem who are determined to arrange everyone and everything to their liking. They began by controlling everything that people did. Now, they have moved on to controlling what people don’t do. If you live, if you breathe, if you stir, move your muscles, track moving objects with your eyes, then there are obligations imposed on you.
ObamaCare is one of the final declarations that there is no opting out. Even if you don’t drive, own a home, own a business, own a dog, or do one of the infinite things that bring you into mandatory contact with the apparatus of your local, semi-local, trans-local, national or global government, you are committed to a task from maturity to death. Your mission is to obtain health insurance, and, in a system in which you become the ward of the government as soon as you taste air, it is the price that you pay for being alive.
In a free country, you are not obligated to do things simply for the privilege of breathing oxygen north of the Rio Grande and south of Niagara Falls. But this isn’t a free country anymore; this is a country in which you get things for free. And there is a big difference between those two things.
Peter Blair contends that popular fiction written for young people is prone to channel directly from the culture’s psyche. The replacement of the Harry Potter series in the bestseller list with Hunger Games books may indicate that the popular attitude toward authority has grown increasingly negative.
The Hunger Games and Harry Potter are among the two most successful and influential cross-media franchises in recent decades. The books were widely read, the movies widely watched, and the arrival of a new book or movie in the series was a big cultural moment. When pop culture objects become as wildly popular as these two series, they often take on a greater importance and resonance than those who occasioned them intended. We can only speculate, but in light of the enduring success of the latest Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire, it’s possible to read the evolution between these two series as a sort of hardening of heart toward government that reflects the increasing anger Americans feel towards political authority.
Clay Shirky describes how government IT cannot effectively translate planning into reality, avoids testing, and insists on shunning a phased roll-out approach but then finds itself experiencing exactly that.
It’s certainly true that Federal IT is chronically challenged by its own processes. But the problem with Healthcare.gov was not timeline or budget. The problem was that the site did not work, and the administration decided to launch it anyway.
This is not just a hiring problem, or a procurement problem. This is a management problem, and a cultural problem. The preferred method for implementing large technology projects in Washington is to write the plans up front, break them into increasingly detailed specifications, then build what the specifications call for. It’s often called the waterfall method, because on a timeline the project cascades from planning, at the top left of the chart, down to implementation, on the bottom right.
Like all organizational models, waterfall is mainly a theory of collaboration. By putting the most serious planning at the beginning, with subsequent work derived from the plan, the waterfall method amounts to a pledge by all parties not to learn anything while doing the actual work. Instead, waterfall insists that the participants will understand best how things should work before accumulating any real-world experience, and that planners will always know more than workers.
This is a perfect fit for a culture that communicates in the deontic language of legislation. It is also a dreadful way to make new technology. If there is no room for learning by doing, early mistakes will resist correction. If the people with real technical knowledge can’t deliver bad news up the chain, potential failures get embedded rather than uprooted as the work goes on. ...
[Emphasis added:] The vision of “technology” as something you can buy according to a plan, then have delivered as if it were coming off a truck, flatters and relieves managers who have no idea and no interest in how this stuff works, but it’s also a breeding ground for disaster. The mismatch between technical competence and executive authority is at least as bad in government now as it was in media companies in the 1990s, but with much more at stake.
The 1960 Chevrolet Bel Air was a no frills model which cost a mere $2500.
My dad bought one of the above Chevrolets brand new in 1960. He eventually passed it along to me and it was still running in 1971 with 150,000 and I got something like $500 for it when I sold it upon returning to Yale.
In the pre-WWII period, you could go to Morris Garages (MG) in Oxford, England and have a custom automobile, your choice of engine, your choice of body run up for you.
Eric Peters explains how it came about that today’s automobiles cost more than working men’s houses did when I was a boy, and why buyers’ choices shrink every year. Our most recent BMW came lacking any sort of spare tire whatsoever. Someone in the federal bureaucracy decided that you could always just phone for roadside assistance when you got a flat and thought that eliminating the spare tire would reduce automobile’s rolling weight and save energy. “So let it be written, so let it be done.” Auto companies, like BMW, happily clicked their heels, fell into line, and stopped providing spare tires.
In this economy, can anyone seriously doubt that there is a market for simple, reliable – and inexpensive – transportation?
In any case, why not let the market operate? Why not allow (god, how I hate that term) Tata or Cherry (or whomever) to offer their basic, low-cost cars for sale here – and see whether people are interested?
You and I know why this will not be allowed, of course. Precisely because people would buy such cars – and that would impose pressure on the industry at large to simplify their offerings, too – and reduce the cost.
Can’t have that.
It is critical to keep people perpetually in debt. Why allow them to buy a new $6,000 car outright – or pay it off in two or three years (as was common once – and within living memory of any person older than 40) when you can effectively force them to buy a $30,000 car (the average price paid for a new vehicle as of last year) and sign them up for 5 or 6 years of payments? And force them to spend $1,000 annually to insure it, too?
That’s the truth of the thing.
It’s not about “safety” – or any other such altruistic palaver.broke picture
It is about power – control.
And, of course, money.
I’ve written about air bags before. Classic example, so worth repeating. They were first put on the market – in the early-mid 1970s by both GM and Chrysler – as optional equipment that people could buy. Or not.
Most people chose not to buy.
Not because they were cavalier risk junkies – as people such as myself are often characterized by the Air Bag Nazis. But simply because the cost of the air bags was prohibitive. They added as much to the bottom line price of a car (this is back in the ’70s) as air conditioning did – and AC was just about the most expensive option you could buy in those days.
So, they failed in the marketplace. Which is why the car companies worked with the government to see them made mandatory. Now you cannot say no to air bags. And to many other “features” you may not want in a car. These features are not necessarily bad. The question is – or ought to be: Can you afford them? Many people cannot. Hence the now-common six-year payment plan. Soon – count on it – to be expanded to seven years.
Then eight. ...
The problem is most people are not outraged about this. They don’t seem to mind being told what they’ll buy – nor how much they’ll pay for it. They’d probably be annoyed if their next door neighbor marched over one day and told them they had to drive this type of car – and weren’t going to be allowed to drive that type of car. Their first reaction would be open-mouthed bewilderment. Their second reaction would be: Who the hell do you think you are? And then: Get the hell off my property – and mind your own business.
And yet, most people will accept the same damn thing when it’s done at once or twice remove, by “regulation” and in a city, far, far away.
The site itself, which apparently underwent major code renovations over the weekend, still rejects user logins, fails to load drop-down menus and other crucial components for users that successfully gain entrance, and otherwise prevents uninsured Americans in the 36 states it serves from purchasing healthcare at competitive rates – Healthcare.gov’s primary purpose. The site is so busted that, as of a couple days ago, the number of people that successfully purchased healthcare through it was in the “single digits,” according to the Washington Post.
And our liberal friends believe we ought to be happy to turn over our healthcare choices, and a one sixth portion of the American economy, to the same government which demonstrably could not even satisfactorily develop a website in three years?
“The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”
—James Madison, Federalist 58.
Andrew C. McCarthy delivers a nice history lesson on why the framers accorded the House of Representatives the power of the purse and then explains why that power both can and should to be applied to defund Obamacare.
Let’s move directly to the 1787 convention in Philadelphia.
One of the major challenges confronting the delegates was to broker the competing claims of small and large states. As Franklin summarized, “If a proportional representation takes place, the small States contend that their liberties will be in danger. If an equality of votes is to be put in its place, the large States say their money will be in danger.” This resulted, of course, in the great compromise: equality among states in the Senate and proportional representation (by population) in the House. But this arrangement was inadequate to quell the large states’ fears; it was also necessary to tinker with the powers assigned to the two chambers. As Franklin put it, the Senate would be restricted generally in all appropriations & dispositions of money to be drawn out of the General Treasury; and in all laws for supplying that Treasury, the Delegates of the several States shall have suffrage in proportion to the Sums which their respective States do actually contribute to the Treasury [emphasis added].
When the Origination Clause was specifically taken up, a spirited debate ensued, with some delegates protesting against restrictions on the Senate. According to Madison’s records, however, what “generally prevailed” was the argument of George Mason:
The consideration which weighed with the Committee was that the 1st branch [i.e., the House of Representatives] would be the immediate representatives of the people, the 2nd [the Senate] would not. Should the latter have the power of giving away the people’s money, they might soon forget the source from whence they received it [emphasis added]. We might soon have an Aristocracy.
Mason’s concerns seem prescient in our era of mammoth national government presided over by an entrenched ruling class of professional politicians. He worried that
the Senate is not like the H. of Representatives chosen frequently and obliged to return frequently among the people. They are chosen by the Sts for 6 years, will probably settle themselves at the seat of Government, will pursue schemes for their aggrandizement. . . . If the Senate can originate, they will in the recess of the Legislative Sessions, hatch their mischievous projects, for their own purposes, and have their money bills ready cut & dried, (to use a common phrase) for the meeting of the H. of Representatives. . . . The purse strings should be in the hands of the Representatives of the people.
Yes, the purse strings, not just the power to tax. Concededly, the Origination Clause speaks of bills “for raising revenue.” In selling the Constitution to the nation, though, it was portrayed as securing in the hands of the people’s representatives the power of the purse. It is an empty power if spending is not included.
The relevant paragraph in Madison’s Federalist No. 58 is worth quoting in full (all italics mine):
A constitutional and infallible resource still remains with the larger states by which they will be able at all times to accomplish their just purposes. The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse — that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.
To my mind, what Madison describes unquestionably transcends taxing authority. I believe a “complete and effectual weapon . . . for obtaining a redress of every grievance” must give “the immediate representatives of the people” the power to block funding for a government takeover of health care that was enacted by fraud and strong-arming; that was adamantly represented not to be the tax that the Supreme Court later found it to be; and that is substantially opposed by the people, and has been since its enactment.
Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at the White House. One is from Chicago, another is from Tennessee, and the third is from Minnesota. All three go with a White House official to examine the fence.
The Minnesota contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. “Well,” he says, “I figure the job will run about $900. $400 for mater…ials, $400 for my crew, and $100 profit for me.”
The Tennessee contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, “I can do this job for $700. $300 for materials, $300 for my crew, and $100 profit for me.”
The Chicago contractor doesn’t measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers, “$2,700.”
The official, incredulous, says, “You didn’t even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?”
The Chicago contractor whispers back, “$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire the guy from Tennessee to fix the fence.”
“Done!” replies the government official.
And that, my friends, is how Government works today.
Ross Douthat predicts that Americans’ future liberty of conscience will be dependent on liberal magnanimity, and wonders (characteristically) if surrendering now might produce better terms.
Unless something dramatic changes in the drift of public opinion, the future of religious liberty on these issues is going to depend in part on the magnanimity of gay marriage supporters — the extent to which they are content with political, legal and cultural victories that leave the traditional view of marriage as a minority perspective with some modest purchase in civil society, versus the extent to which they decide to use every possible lever to make traditionalism as radioactive in the America of 2025 as white supremacism or anti-Semitism are today. And I can imagine a scenario in which a more drawn-out and federalist march to “marriage equality in 50 states,” with a large number of (mostly southern) states hewing to the older definition for much longer than the five years that gay marriage advocates currently anticipate, ends up encouraging a more scorched-earth approach to this battle, with less tolerance for the shrinking population of holdouts, and a more punitive, “they’re getting what they deserve” attitude toward traditionalist religious bodies in particular. If religious conservatives are, in effect, negotiating the terms of their surrender, it’s at least possible that those negotiations would go better if they were conducted right now, in the wake of a Roe v. Wade-style Supreme Court ruling, rather than in a future where the bloc of Americans opposed to gay marriage has shrunk from the current 44 percent to 30 percent or 25 percent, and the incentives for liberals to be magnanimous in victory have shrunk apace as well.
I’m still editing my own opinion, taking out all the epithets and toning down the pejoratives.
This has been a building concern and certainty for me, that liberty and civilization are incompatible. That the more comforts, ease, and safety you get from civilization, the more liberty you must surrender. That the first casualty of civilization are the virtues that enabled the civilization to build and prosper to begin with. That the social contract moves too far into the shared benefits and safety and too far away from the liberty all men are born to, as time goes on.
A hundred years ago you might have been shot for suggesting you couldn’t build a campfire on the beach. Now people are surprised you can even attempt it. A hundred years ago all you needed to start a business up was the ambition and cash to do so, now you can’t even begin to plan it without consulting the government for permission, licensing, and tribute paid to the proper authorities.
We’ve become so steeped in this life, we don’t even notice what would have caused John Adams to go berserk.