Category Archive 'Hubris'

09 Mar 2017

Hubris in High Places

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Victor Davis Hanson has a fine rant contending that, in today’s America, a hankering to order the stars in their courses and reform everything in the world from the bottom up tends to go hand in had with complete incompetence and a total inability to deal with basic responsibilities.

The recent Academy Awards ceremony turned into a monotony of hate. Many of the stars who mounted the stage ranted on cue about the evils of President Donald Trump.

Such cheap rhetoric is easy. But first, accusers should guarantee that their own ceremony is well run. Instead, utter bedlam ruined the event, as no one on the Oscar stage even knew who had won the Best Picture award.

Stars issued lots of rants about Trump, but were apparently unaware that one of the ceremony’s impromptu invited guests was a recent parolee and registered sex offender.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg used to offer all sorts of cosmic advice on the evils of smoking and the dangers of fatty foods and sugary soft drinks. Bloomberg also frequently pontificated on abortion and global warming, earning him a progressive audience that transcended the boroughs of New York.

But in the near-record December 2010 blizzard, Bloomberg proved utterly incompetent in the elemental tasks for which he was elected: ensuring that New Yorkers were not trapped in their homes by snowdrifts in their streets that went unplowed for days.

The Bloomberg syndrome is a characteristic of contemporary government officials. When they are unwilling or unable to address premodern problems in their jurisdictions — crime, crumbling infrastructure, inadequate transportation — they compensate by posing as philosopher kings who cheaply lecture on existential challenges over which they have no control.

In this regard, think of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s recent promises to nullify federal immigration law — even as he did little to mitigate the epidemic of murders in his own city.

Former President Barack Obama nearly doubled the national debt, never achieved 3 percent economic growth in any of his eight years in office, and left the health care system in crisis. But he did manage to lecture Americans about the evils of the Crusades, and promise to lower the seas and cool the planet.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, likewise ran up record debt during his tenure, culminating in a $25 billion deficit his last year in office. Schwarzenegger liked to hector state residents on global warming and green energy, and brag about his commitment to wind and solar power.

Meanwhile, one of the state’s chief roadways, California State Route 99, earned the moniker “Highway of Death” for its potholes, bumper-to-bumper traffic, narrow lanes and archaic on- and off-ramps. During California’s early-February storms, the state’s decrepit road system all but collapsed. A main access to Yosemite National Park was shut down by mudslides. Big Sur was inaccessible. Highway 17, which connects Monterey Bay to Silicon Valley, was a daily disaster.

Schwarzenegger’s successor, Jerry Brown, warned of climate change and permanent drought and did not authorize the construction of a single reservoir. Now, California is experiencing near-record rain and snowfall. Had the state simply completed its half-century-old water master plan, dozens of new reservoirs would now be storing the runoff, ensuring that the state could be drought-proof for years.

Instead, more than 20 million acre-feet of precious water have already been released to the sea. There is nowhere to put it, given that California has not build a major reservoir in nearly 40 years.

The crumbling spillways of the landmark Oroville Dam, the tallest dam in the United States, threaten to erode it. Warnings of needed maintenance went unheeded for years, despite the fact that some 20 million more Californians live in the state (often in floodplains) than when the dam was built. Meanwhile, the state legislature has enacted new laws regarding plastic bags and transgender restrooms.

We have become an arrogant generation that virtue-signals that we can change the universe when in reality we cannot even run an awards ceremony, plow snow, fix potholes, build a road or dam, or stop inner-city youths from murdering each other.

Do our smug politicians promise utopia because they cannot cope with reality?

23 Feb 2015

The Leftist Project

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I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

― Michelangelo Buonarroti

Oblomov, at Ricochet, contemplates the insoluble effort of the intelligentsia to re-engineer human society in accordance with ideology.

At the heart of the Leftist project is the idea of social engineering. The Leftist sees society the way Michelangelo saw a large slab of Carrara marble: a formless mass that needs sharp percussive tools to liberate its inner David. Whether it’s “class” structure (Robespierre, Lenin), wealth and income distribution (Obama, Elizabeth Warren), or ethnic makeup (Obama), the Leftist imperative is to chisel and bulldoze the mass into a more aesthetically perfect configuration with respect to the offending criterion. The fact that leftists have been doing this since 1793, with consistently lamentable results, has not dampened their enthusiasm. We are always just a few broken eggs short of the perfect omelet. And as far as the breakage, well, when you’re sculpting a masterpiece, the chips fly.

Read the whole thing.

06 Jul 2010

Their Hubris, Our Opportunity

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Steve McCann, at American Thinker, hopes that the disastrous election of 2008 does prove that God really does take care of fools, drunks, and the United States of America.

On this 4th of July, 2010, when the future of the United States appears to be in serious jeopardy, it should be noted that sometimes in the history of a nation, what appears to be an event that could lead to long-term disaster may, in fact, be its long-term salvation. A case in point: the election of Barack Obama as president and the Democrats in full control of the Congress. To be sure, the far-left domination of government is not a situation to be wished for, but in a perverse way, it was necessary.

Over the past fifty years, regardless of who was in the White House or in charge of Congress, no one has been able to halt the incessant spread of Progressivism in our institutions and the concurrent uncontrolled spending and growth of government. When a president as accomplished as Ronald Reagan was unable to do so, no future Republican president or Congress, short of a major national catastrophe, could ever fully turn back this tide, as they could not overcome the apathy of the people and the hostility of the media, academia, the entertainment establishment, and federal bureaucracies.

A long as the American people remained largely disengaged (the result of unprecedented prosperity), the damage done to the society as a whole and to the long-term financial health of the country was unknown to the vast majority. This indifference has begun to undergo significant change as the reality of the nation’s future comes into focus, but that reality has started to come to the fore only as the result of the policies being pursued by a far-left government. …

While the damage to date has been considerable, it is not irreversible. In essence, Barack Obama and the present Congress won their offices at the wrong point in the history of our nation to achieve all their objectives; but by attempting to do so and overreaching, this left-wing government has given the country an opportunity to awaken from its fifty-year slumber and repair the foundation. Only a radical presidency and Congress could have accomplished this before it was too late to turn back the tide.

Read the whole thing.

24 Jan 2010

Hubris Punished

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Willem-Adolphe Bouguereau, Liberal Democrat Pursued By the Furies, 1862, Chrysler Museum of Art

Jay Ambrose takes on the role of Greek chorus, chanting about the lessons “Progressives” should have learned when they were turned out of office last time and didn’t.

Go back some decades, and it looked as if liberals were going to be the death of America. They wanted to take it really easy on criminals. They favored welfare programs that destroyed families. They backed foreign aid that buttressed tyrannies. Their way of dealing with enemies was unilateral disarmament. Still other proposals could have spent, taxed and regulated us into oblivion.

The voters didn’t like all of this, the L-word became a curse, and so liberals went into something akin to a witness protection program. They changed their name to “progressives” and if they did not quite hide out, they became less obtrusive with some of their views. Yes, they griped, fumed, engaged in numerous sneak attacks and thumbed their noses at the opposition, but they did turn the lights dimmer than before on their grand vision of free-enterprise destruction and runaway statism.

Ah, but then after their surprising 1990s ascension came the self-destruction of earmark-happy, spendthrift congressional Republicans who seemed to assume power was theirs forever, even if many of their principles were proving strangely evaporative.

So first off, the Democrats took back Congress. Then Barack Obama used unexcelled rhetorical skills, a recession, an unpopular war in Iraq and George W. Bush’s deep decline in public estimation to capture the White House. Conservative values had supposedly been rejected, and behold, it was the liberal hour, a time for the enlightened few to strike back, to fix things – glory, glory hallelujah!

The arrogance was suffocating. Resurrected liberals were practically smirking as they instructed us to sweet-talk our way out of terrorist threats, advised we should quickly duplicate Europe’s semi-socialist mistakes and condescendingly dished up all manner of other liberty-smothering ideological inanities that would transform America into a poor imitation of what it once was. …

Ordinary Americans have caught onto all of this, and so, I am sorry, liberals, but the word of the day for you is “lose.” Your side has lost elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and now your side has lost the Senate seat previously held by the very liberal Ted Kennedy in very liberal Massachusetts to Scott Brown, a Republican.

The message to the Democrats is simple. Either give up your liberal ways and veer toward the center or face political catastrophe in November’s general election. The message to liberals generally is also simple: Get back into your witness protection program.

No, Senators and Congressmen, the message of 2008 was not, “Go ahead and repeat the New Deal.” What 2008 really proved is that Americans are, for the most part, pragmatic and apolitical. When politics gets too noisy or too scary, when things start going to pot economically, they throw out the incumbents and send in the other team.

The Clintons alarmed America with Hillarycare, and the voters took away their Congressional majority. So Bill Clinton pulled in his horns and tried to govern competently, making noises like a Centrist. The economy caught fire as the Republican Congress favorably impacted economic policies, and Bill Clinton ironically even escaped removal from office, despite the Monica Lewinsky scandal and his perjury, because the public was decidedly content with a divided government featuring a competent democrat administration (however corrupt) as long as the economy was good.

Barack Obama has a very undeserved reputation for high intelligence. He is so stupid that he never even understood that there has come to exist, post the unhappy 1970s, a fundamental and unspoken contract between voters and leaders in American national politics: Don’t screw up the economy and you can be in office.

08 Sep 2009

Obama in Decline

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Charles Krauthammer muses over how exactly it came to pass that the Chosen One lost his mojo. His conclusion? As always, it was Hubris that brought the fortunate and previously successful man of destiny’s progress to a crashing halt.

What happened to President Obama? His wax wings having melted, he is the man who fell to earth. What happened to bring his popularity down further than that of any new president in polling history save Gerald Ford (post-Nixon pardon)?

The conventional wisdom is that Obama made a tactical mistake by farming out his agenda to Congress and allowing himself to be pulled left by the doctrinaire liberals of the Democratic congressional leadership. But the idea of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi pulling Obama left is quite ridiculous. Where do you think he came from, this friend of Chávista ex-terrorist William Ayers, of PLO apologist Rashid Khalidi, of racialist inciter Jeremiah Wright?

But forget the character witnesses. Just look at Obama’s behavior as president, beginning with his first address to Congress. Unbidden, unforced and unpushed by the congressional leadership, Obama gave his most deeply felt vision of America, delivering the boldest social democratic manifesto ever issued by a U.S. president. In American politics, you can’t get more left than that speech and still be on the playing field.

In a center-right country, that was problem enough. Obama then compounded it by vastly misreading his mandate. He assumed it was personal. This, after winning by a mere seven points in a year of true economic catastrophe, of an extraordinarily unpopular Republican incumbent, and of a politically weak and unsteady opponent. Nonetheless, Obama imagined that, as Fouad Ajami so brilliantly observed, he had won the kind of banana-republic plebiscite that grants caudillo-like authority to remake everything in one’s own image.

Accordingly, Obama unveiled his plans for a grand makeover of the American system, animating that vision by enacting measure after measure that greatly enlarged state power, government spending and national debt. Not surprisingly, these measures engendered powerful popular skepticism that burst into tea-party town-hall resistance.

Obama’s reaction to that resistance made things worse. …

Read the whole thing.

24 Jul 2009

Obama Puts His Foot In It

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Power Line’s John Hinderaker aptly identifies Barack Obama’s potentially fatal flaw.

Obama… continues to overestimate his verbal skills. All his life, he has been rewarded for assuming a certain pose and offering up platitudes in a reasonably glib fashion. These are minor talents at best, but they got Obama elected President, notwithstanding his lack of original insight into any issue of public policy. Now that he is President, however, these limitations are starting to haunt him. Obama’s foolish and entirely needless assertion that Cambridge policeman James Crowley “acted stupidly” when he arrested Harvard professor Henry Gates is beginning to turn into a political issue that will hurt Obama with broad sectors of the electorate.

This is one more in a series of self-inflicted wounds that have contributed to Obama’s steadily declining standing with Americans.

Hat tip to the News Junkie.

26 Oct 2008

Why Even Vote?

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Obama is so confident of victory that he’s already selected the color of the new drapes and upholstery in the Oval Office, and his chief retainers are busy fighting over the best offices in the West Wing. As the New York Times reports: “(Leon) Podesta (head of Obama’s transition team)… has already written a draft Inaugural Address for Mr. Obama.”

Washington Wire describes McCain’s response:

John McCain slammed Barack Obama Saturday for being overconfident about his lead in the polls and predicted election night would feature a Dewey-Truman scenario.

“What America needs now is someone who will finish the race before starting the victory lap,” McCain said to the crowd of several thousand at a rally here. “Someone who will fight to the end, not for himself but for his country.”

In remarks dripping with sarcasm and disdain, the Republican presidential candidate said brought up a story from the New York Times that said former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta has already penned a copy of Obama’s inaugural address.

“I’m not making it up,” McCain said. “An awful lot of voters are still undecided but he’s decided for them that well, why wait, it’s time to move forward with his first inaugural address.”

Obama spokesman Bill Burton quickly refuted the attack. “While this charge is completely false and there is no draft of an inaugural address for Senator Obama, the last thing we need is a candidate like John McCain who just plans on re-reading George Bush’s,” he said.

But McCain had more zingers, fresh off the presses—with his own kind of startling confidence: “When I pull this thing off, I have a request for my opponent, I want him to save that manuscript of his inaugural address and donate it to the Smithsonian so they can put it right next to the Chicago paper that says ‘ Dewey defeats Truman’!”

The reference was to the 1948 presidential race, where Thomas Dewey ran against Harry Truman. The Chicago Daily Tribune–now known as the Chicago Tribune–ran a banner headline proclaiming Dewey’s victory. Several hundred copies were printed before the mistake was realized.

But McCain didn’t stop there. “There’s 10 days left in this election, maybe Barack Obama will even have his first state of the union address ready before you head to the polls,” McCain quipped. “You know, but I guess I’m a little old fashioned about these things. I’d prefer to let the voters weigh in before presuming the outcome.”

27 Aug 2008

Obama to Speak from Greek Temple

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Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s big speech on Thursday night will be delivered from an elaborate columned stage resembling a miniature Greek temple.

The stage, similar to structures used for rock concerts, has been set up at the 50-yard-line, the midpoint of Invesco Field, the stadium where the Denver Broncos’ National Football League team plays.

Some 80,000 supporters will see Obama appear from between plywood columns painted off-white, reminiscent of Washington’s Capitol building or even the White House, to accept the party’s nomination for president.

He will stride out to a raised platform to a podium that can be raised from beneath the floor.

The show should provide a striking image for the millions of Americans watching on television as Obama delivers a speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination.

Politicians in past elections have typically spoken from the convention site itself, but the Obama campaign liked the idea of having their man speak to a larger, stadium-sized crowd not far from where the Democratic National Convention is being held, at the Denver pro basketball arena.

Maybe he’s running for emperor.

Photocommentary here. Heh.

Pejman: Will Zeus be the next Democratic nominee?

30 Jul 2008

Premature Inauguration

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Paul Weyrich reacts to the liberal media’s treatment of Barack Obama as “designated President,” and notes that going over to Europe and playing president has not really done his poll numbers a lot of good.

Not yet elected president, hell, he hasn’t even been nominated yet. And since he lost the democrat party popular vote to Hillary, absent universal media support and some peculiar manuevers by that democrat rules committee, he wouldn’t even be being nominated.

It was an unusually warm January day in Washington as President-elect Barack Hussein Obama took the oath of office administered by longtime Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Stevens already had administered the oath of office to Vice President-elect Evan Bayh, of Indiana, who had been picked by Obama because he was perceived to be a middle-of-the-road man. Recent reporting has revealed that Bayh shares most of Obama’s radical views on issues. The packed Capitol Plaza waited with eager anticipation as now President Obama was about to deliver a rhetorical masterpiece, for which he had become famous.

Have trouble recalling how Obama had bested Senator John Sidney McCain, III? Was it the Electoral College which elected Obama or the popular vote or both? No one seems to remember.

No one seems to remember because there was no election. It began with the presumptive nominee’s trip to the Middle East and Europe. The Obama campaign began referring to the candidate as if he already were President. That, while politically risky, is certainly understandable. What is not understandable is how many in the media went along with what the campaign fed them. They began to treat the Senator from Illinois as if he already had been elected President. These are media types who believe that perception is reality. If they can convince the electorate that Senator Obama already is President the election will become a mere formality. In fact, the election is a sort of tolerated nuisance in their eyes.

It might have worked but for the contempt the electorate has for the media. I saw at least half a dozen interviews on cables over the air networks. In every case voters said, “He is behaving as if he were already elected.” Most said, “That isn’t right.” What shocked the reporters, who were stuck hanging around with McCain as he campaigned in small-town America while their anchors reported live from Obama’s trip, was how the voters got it. A number identified themselves as Democrats. One even said he was an Obama supporter. The tracking polls confirmed what these voters told the reporters. The campaign believed this trip would give Obama a big bump, putting Senator Obama permanently ahead in what has been up to now a surprisingly tight race with Senator McCain. It didn’t turn out that way. In every tracking poll Senator Obama actually lost support. He had opened a six-point lead at the beginning of the trip. Depending on which tracking poll one prefers, Obama’s lead decreased to either four, three or two points. Individual states were even more dramatic. In no state did his support increase. In some states where he had gone ahead substantially his support either reversed the trend or is now behind. They include Colorado, Minnesota and Michigan, among others.

There are lessons here for both campaigns and the media. Campaigns must be respectful of the America voter. Campaigns which put their candidate ahead of the candidate’s actual position run the risk of appearing arrogant. It would take something cataclysmic for both Obama and McCain not to receive their party’s nomination. Yet the voters want to see that it really happens.

25 Jul 2008

Maybe Appointing His Transition Team Was a Little Premature

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Hey! wait a minute. What do you know? It’s not actually over.

The LA Times reports that Obama’s poll numbers are not rising, Clinton supporters are not rallying to elect him, a majority of Americans find him elitist or exotic.

Can it be that he’s in trouble?

Even as his turn on the global stage hit an emotional peak Thursday with a speech before a cheering crowd of more than 200,000 in Germany, Barack Obama faced new evidence of stubborn election challenges back home.

Fresh polls show that he has been unable to convert weeks of extensive media coverage into a widened lead. And some prominent Democrats whose support could boost his campaign are still not enthusiastic about his candidacy.

Several new surveys show that Obama is in a tight race or even losing ground to Republican John McCain, both nationally and in two important swing states, Colorado and Minnesota. One new poll offered a possible explanation for his troubles: A minority of voters see Obama as a familiar figure with whom they can identify.

Republicans are moving to exploit this vulnerability, trying to encourage unease among voters by building the impression that Obama’s overseas trip and other actions show he has a sense of entitlement that suggests he believes the White House is already his.

In Ohio on Thursday, McCain hit that theme: “I’d love to give a speech in Germany . . . but I’d much prefer to do it as president of the United States, rather than as a candidate for the office of presidency.”

Obama also faces discontent from some of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most ardent supporters, who are put off by what they describe as a campaign marked by hubris and a style dedicated to televised extravaganzas.

Read the whole thing.

Not to worry, he can always run for president of Europe.

24 Jul 2008

Has He Been Measured For His Crown Yet?

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Barack Obama waves goodbye to the Illinois State Senate

Barack Obama didn’t even win a majority of the votes cast in the democrat party primaries. His party’s convention has yet to occur, and he has yet to be nominated.

Barack Obama has to be most ludicrously underqualified presidential candidate of all time. An insignificant state legislator, representing an inner city minority safe seat from a one party city, with no record of legislative accomplishment whatsoever, he lucked into the US Senate, courtesy of an angry divorce scandal. He then gets to give a token speech at the 2004 democrat convention, proves he can read effectively from a teleprompter, and entirely on that basis becomes a presidential candidate.

Since being elected to the Senate, he’s been running for the presidency, so he has even less of a record of accomplishment in the US Senate than he compiled in the Illinois State Senate where he was remarkable only for the number of occasions he voted “Present:” 129.

But, as Marc Ambinder reports, Barack Obama is so confident of winning that he is already planning for his presidency.

With less than six months to go before he would be sworn in as the nation’s 44th president, Sen. Barack Obama has directed his aides to begin planning for the transition.

“Barack is well aware of the complexity and the organizational challenge involved in the transition process and he has tasked s small group to begin thinking through the process,” a senior campaign adviser said. “Barack has made his expectations clear about what he wants from such a process, how he wants it to move forward, and the establishment and execution of his timeline is proceeding apace.”

Last month, the Post’s Chris Cillizza reported that campaign advisers were sounding out John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and currently the president of the Center for American Progress, for his advice.

An aide confirms that Podesta will probably be asked to head the transition team, which would take over from the campaign if Obama wins in November, and would be tasked with ensuring a smooth handover of power.

08 Jun 2008

So, Democrats…

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Willem-Adolphe Bouguereau, Democrat Who Stabbed Hillary Pursued By the Furies, 1862, Chrysler Museum of Art

Well, here you are. You’ve got a really obscure guy with an exotic and ultra-left background that you’re running for president… because he talks so good. My, oh my. I’m just a Republican myself, and what do I know? But it sure looks like a risky move to me. I mean, what are you democrats going to do if some bad stuff on this virtually unknown guy with no meaningful record of any kind should happen to come out during the course of the months and months and months yet to go until November? Did you really think no one will be looking ?

I find all this kind of surprising. George W. Bush hands you guys an “Elect One President Free” card, and you all go nuts, and do your level best to find some way to blow it. Does your party really have a death wish?

And, btw, tell me democrats, whatever happened to all that “every vote must count” jazz we heard so much about in 2000? Hillary did win the popular vote, you know, by more than 300,000. And your own Rules Committee gave Barack Hussein a bunch of votes from Michigan, a primary in which he never even ran, by pure fiat, voiding the expressed will of the voters of that state. They also halved the votes of Florida (where every dimpled chad, as we all know, is sacred) along with Michigan’s to improve B. Hussein’s margin and to lower Hillary’s count. Was that democratic? So where are David Boies and the rest of the democrat party’s valiant fighters for everybody’s franchise? Is there possibly some inconsistency here?

I don’t mean to pry into your party’s internal operations, but it sure looks to me as if your bosses and backroom operators screwed Hillary over and strong armed her (the wimp!) right out of the race, greasing the skids to benefit Obama.

Watching all this, I feel like the chorus in one of the Greek plays. I feel this overwhelming urge to chant: “You guys are going to so get it in November.And you are so going to deserve it.”

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