Joel Kotkin explains that California has fallen into the hands of the rich and spoiled and ideologically deluded who are determined to embrace a pious environmentalist agenda which will preclude the maintenance or new development of the kinds of infrastructure needed by the rest of the population.
California has met the future, and it really doesnâ€™t work. As the mounting panic surrounding the drought suggests, the Golden State, once renowned for meeting human and geographic challenges, is losing its ability to cope with crises. As a result, the great American land of opportunity is devolving into something that resembles feudalism, a society dominated by rich and poor, with little opportunity for upward mobility for the stateâ€™s middle- and working classes.
The water situation reflects this breakdown in the starkest way. Everyone who follows California knew it was inevitable we would suffer a long-term drought. Most of the stateâ€”including the Bay Area as well as greater Los Angelesâ€”is semi-arid, and could barely support more than a tiny fraction of its current population. Californiaâ€™s response to aridity has always been primarily an engineering one that followed the old Roman model of siphoning water from the high country to service cities and farms.
But since the 1970s, Californiaâ€™s water system has become the prisoner of politics and posturing. The great aqueducts connecting the population centers with the great Sierra snowpack are all products of an earlier eraâ€”the Los Angeles aqueduct (1913), Hetch-Hetchy (1923), the Central Valley Project (1937), and the California Aqueduct (1974). The primary opposition to expansion has been the green left, which rejects water storage projects as irrelevant.
Jonathan V. Last notes just how much of the politics of members of the contemporary community of fashion consists of nothing more than signals affirming loyalty and group membership.
Why do reporters ask politicians what they think about evolution? Practically speaking, no one really cares what a senator or a congressman-or even a president-thinks about evolution. But what a politician says about evolution is a handy signal to certain types of voters telling them what they’re supposed to think. So if you’re a nice, well-educated cog in the Goldman Sachs machine who thinks that, generally speaking, public-sector unions are harmful, that the federal government is operating in a suboptimal manner, and that the mullahs of Iran probably shouldn’t be allowed to have nuclear weapons, you might consider voting for someone like that tough, can-do governor from Wisconsin.
But then someone asks the governor whether or not he “believes in evolution” and he doesn’t answer by jumping up and down chanting and “Darwin! Darwin! Darwin!” And suddenly you understand: This guy isn’t really like you. Better to let Iran have nukes.
You got the signal loud and clear.
President Obama has always been skilled at sending out very precise, targeted signals, whether it’s to mainstream swing voters or to his liberal base. But the group Obama works hardest at signaling to is the young, Millennial hipsters who were so vital to his 2008 victory over Hillary Clinton.
As a substantive matter, Obama’s presidency has been terrible for these people. High unemployment numbers for recent graduates. No bending of the curve on college tuition prices. An entitlement system that gets less solvent by the day. And a new healthcare regime that’s an explicit transfer of wealth from younger, healthier workers to older folks and the unemployed.
Yet Obama has made sure to signal that, despite everything, he’s really on their side. We see these signals in the big show he makes each year of filling out his NCAA bracket. (It’s not like there’s a war on or anything.) We see it in his choice of bffs. And above all, we see it in his TV habits, where Obama goes out of his way to let it be known that he’s a huge fan of HBO and Millennial darling shows such as Game of Thrones and True Detective.
Kevin Williamson argues that the real issue in the battle between left and right in America is about intellectual and political coercion.
The Leftâ€™s last big idea was Communism. When Lenin turned out to be the god who failed, the Left undertook wide exploration for another grand unifying idea: environmentalism, multiculturalism, economic inequality, atheism, feminism, etc. What it ended up with was an enemiesâ€™ list.
That and a taste for brute force.
The enthusiasm for coercion and the substitution of enemies for ideas â€” Christians, white men, Israel, â€œthe 1 percent,â€ the Koch brothers, take your pick â€” together form the basis for understanding the Leftâ€™s current convulsions. The call to imprison people with unapproved ideas about global warming, the Senate Democratsâ€™ vote to repeal the First Amendment, the Ferguson-inspired riots, the picayune political correctness and thought-policing that annoys Jonathan Chait, the IRSâ€™s persecution of conservative political groups, Barack Obamaâ€™s White House enemiesâ€™ list, the casual violence against conservatives on college campuses and the Leftâ€™s instinctive defense of that violence â€” these are not separate phenomena but part of a single phenomenon.
The difference between Elizabeth Warrenâ€™s partisans and the Tontons Macoutes is very little more than testosterone and time.
Sam: -Everybody has a limit. l spent some time in interrogation… once.
Spence: – They make it hard on you ?
Sam: – They don’t make it easy.
– Yeah, it was unpleasant. l held out as long as l could.
– All the stuff they tried.
– You just can’t hold out for ever.
Spence: – How’d they finally get to you ?
Sam: – They gave me a grasshopper.
Spence: – What’s a grasshopper ?
Sam: -Let’s see… That’s two part gin, two part brandy, one part crÃ¨me de menthe…
What Sam mockingly tells the pretender Spence in “Ronin” (1998) is a truth generally recognized by all adults in the military & the intelligence community: Nobody can resist all forms of coercive interrogation indefinitely.
There is, however, serious dissent on this obvious truth from the left-wing democrat party establishment, and particularly from prominent portions of the Gay commentariat.
Democrats, having just lost control of the Senate, are leaving power in the manner of dead skunk, leaving a terrible odor behind them, with today’s cynical publication of a totally partisan official intelligence report, concluding that enhanced interrogation (not even the trained attack caterpillar!) never worked, the CIA allegedly misinformed the rest of the government about the results of enhanced interrogation, the CIA roughed up some of the prisoners in manners and forms displeasing to the sensibilities of Senate democrats, confinement conditions were bleak, and the CIA was generally naughty, misleading, evasive, and destructive both to good government and the standing of the US in the world(!).
It is a total hatchet job, and it will be interesting to watch over time what the CIA does to democrats, particularly to Nancy Pelosi, in response.
Jose A. Rodriquez Jr. ran the CIA Interrogation Program, and he responded, back in April, to what was obviously coming.
On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify and release hundreds of pages of its report on U.S. terrorist interrogation practices. Certain senators have proclaimed how devastating the findings are, saying the CIAâ€™s program was unproductive, badly managed and misleadingly sold. Unlike the committeeâ€™s staff, I donâ€™t have to examine the program through a rearview mirror. I was responsible for administering it, and I know that it produced critical intelligence that helped decimate al-Qaeda and save American lives.
The committeeâ€™s staff members started with a conclusion in 2009 and have chased supportive evidence ever since. They never spoke to me or other top CIA leaders involved in the program, or let us see the report.
In other words, that report is just a partisan crock.
Walter Russell Mead has intelligent things to say about immigration and American history and predicts that Barack Obama’s shameless ploy to capture Hispanics as a permanent democrat constituency is based on flawed and grossly oversimplified thinking. All this, he contends, is going to backfire on democrats and Barack Obama is carving out a place for himself in presidential history below Jimmy Carter’s.
President Obamaâ€™s new initiative is unlikely to succeed politicallyâ€”in part because Democrats are overconfident that rising Hispanic immigration will deliver them a permanent, left-leaning majority.
Frank Fukuyama, no howling partisan, has tagged President Obamaâ€™s decision to circumvent Congress on immigration as a â€œbad call,â€ and while the Presidentâ€™s limited offer of a three-year temporary work authorization for people in the country illegally was not the worst or the most radical step he could have taken, Frank is right. This was the wrong step at the wrong time. At the very minimum, the President should have given the new Congress ninety days to act before going it alone. Failing to do so isnâ€™t just a slap in the face of his Republican opponents; it is a slap in the face of the voters who no longer trust the President and his party on the big issues of national life.
If the new Congress proved unable or unwilling to act, the Presidentâ€™s step would have had at least an element of political legitimacy to it. As it is, this half-hearted, hobbled amnesty will likely join President Obamaâ€™s flawed health care law as a toxic legacy that will haunt the Democratic Party for years to come. Just as the Presidentâ€™s poor reputation was a millstone around the neck of many Democratic candidates in 2014, future Democratic candidates are going to run away from Obamaâ€™s memory, and their opponents will work to tag them with the heavy burden of a presidency that most Americans will want to forget. As a political brand, the name â€œBarack Obamaâ€ now risks drifting into Jimmy Carter territory and becoming a label that blights the prospects of the Democratic party and its candidates for years.
Moreover, as with the health care law, the Presidentâ€™s immigration policy doesnâ€™t solve the underlying problems it addresses and makes the task of real reform more difficult.
At Richochet, Sabrdance views the American political future in the light of the Jacksonian Tradition. He even manages to place Abraham Lincoln (perhaps the ultimate anti-Jacksonian) directly in the Jacksonian Tradition (!).
In this weekâ€™s G-File, Jonah Goldberg elaborates on his Special Report rant that there is a populist revolt brewing in response to the misbehavior of the government, specifically, the revelations regarding Jonathan Gruber. Jacksonians expect government to be corrupt, but they require that it not be perverse; it may line its pockets, but it may not harm the people to do so. If it does, Meade is sanguine: the Jacksonians will revolt and elect a hero, as they did previously with Jackson himself, both Roosevelts, and Ronald Reagan.
I am less sure. The Jacksonian response to corruption has historically been to withdraw, first to the frontier, then into their churches and towns. Their antagonists follow until their train of insults culminates in harm, at which point the Jacksonians become bloodyminded. Meade skips over it in his discussion of Jacksonian heroes, but Lincoln can also be seen as of that mold, elected to punish the Southern states for insulting their Northern brethren by forcing the Fugitive Slave Act on them, violating both the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850, as well as the implicit the agreement of the Founding to contain slavery and allow it to die (all brought about by the Louisiana Purchase, itself a dubiously legal executive act).
Jacksonians are honorable people. They will put up with much, and will withdraw into their enclaves rather than get sucked into a vendetta. Executive encroachments, legislative flimflam, judicial arroganceâ€¦ the Jacksonians wonâ€™t respond to any of it. Until they do.
Their predecessors in England launched both the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution.
Dan Greenfield (brilliantly as usual) analyses the new political system, which Aristotle somehow managed to overlook.
The Victimocracy is a lot like any other tyranny. In an aristocracy, power belongs to the nobles, in a theocracy, power belongs to the clergy, in a meritocracy, to anyone with skill and a work ethic.
But in a Victimocracy the biggest and angriest whiner wins.
In a Victimocracy, suffering is the exclusive privilege of the elites. No one else is allowed to suffer except them. No one else has ever been oppressed, has felt pain, been insulted, abused, degraded, enslaved and ground down into the dirt except the very people who are grinding you into the dirt now.
Victimhood is what entitles them to special privileges, itâ€™s what ennobles them as a superior class of people and gives them the right to rule over you. They are the victims. What they say goes.
Victimization is the currency of their power. They have 1/16 Cherokee blood and high cheekbones. They are â€˜triggeredâ€™ by loud noises and differing opinions. They spent their twenties â€œcoming to termsâ€ with something because of the lack of sitcom role models for their favorite sexual preferences or skin color. They are all survivors of something or other. They were activists and someone once said mean things to them. And if all else fails, they are deeply passionate about the plight of the oppressed. Like, seriously.
Now stop oppressing them and educate yourself by recognizing their right to oppress you. …
Victimocrats donâ€™t win arguments. They convince others that they are entitled to avoid the argument. In the Victimocracy the illusion of weakness is power. The weak are entitled to disproportionate power to protect themselves from the rest of us. The weaker they are, the more power they need. And the more power they get, the weaker they grow until we live under a tyranny of the absolutely powerless who wield absolute power.
Jim Treacher reports that thanks to Matthew Colbert: “Now You Can Bring The Stifling Joylessness Of Modern Political Life To The Grocery Store.”
Are you worried that at some point in your day, you might unknowingly make a personal decision untainted by any political considerations whatsoever? Afraid that a single penny of your hard-earned money* might go toward someone who doesnâ€™t share your views of the world?
Enter Matthew Colbert, a former campaign and Hill staffer, who has built a new app for smartphones that allows users to scan the barcode of products in the grocery store and immediately find out what political party the company and its employees supportâ€¦
The app, based on data from Center for Responsive Politics, the Sunlight Foundation and the Institute for State Money in Politics, is the first rollout from Colbertâ€™s new company, â€œSpend consciously.â€ Itâ€™s [sic] tagline: â€œWouldnâ€™t it be great if you could spend how you believed?â€
The goal of the company, he said, is make â€œevery day Election Dayâ€ through â€œspending choices.â€
It’s not strictly fair. I responded to Chris’s previous comments before, but his arguments are representative of that school of thought, and this comment just came in and provokes rejoinder.
[L]ets dissect those three arguments:
Law breaking: SO because there are really two sides to the law breaking issue (employers and illegals) we should just give it a mulligan? C’mon. That’s not addressing the issue. That’s ignoring it. What would you say to the immigrant from Taiwan that has stood in line and waited for an available immigration slot? Too bad, you don’t swim as well? How is it Conservative, how is it JUST or fair to those that followed the rules? Put it in terms of jumping the line at Disneyland. If we just sayscrew it, there won’t be a queue…it’ll simply look like anarchy.
Actually, I have responded to the law-and-order and the (Michelle Malkin) standing-in-line arguments repeatedly and at length. See the malum-in-se versus malum-prohibitum discussion in some earlier posts.
Our immigration laws do not, in fact, embody any real principle of Natural Law or American political philosophy. Neither do they reflect any kind of substantive consensus resulting from a national debate. They are mere semi-random regulations evolved over time from earlier regulatory schemes modified by reflexive kinds of political compromise within the legislature.
Our immigration regs are ill-conceived. They fail to reflect our traditions, our values, or to respond to our economic needs, and they get produced by occult political processes remote from the views of real American voters on either side of the issue.
Breaking these kinds of rules is a victimless crime. If some Mexican laborer crosses the border, comes here and goes out and picks strawberries for Farmer Jones, he is not doing anybody any harm at all. I’ll happily go along with you guys on the other side in supporting deportation of illegal immigrants who do commit crimes or who try signing up for welfare.
As to standing-in-line, we have currently a dysfunctional system. There is no line for the poor Mexican who wants a better life to stand in. The quotas have no room for him at all. Michelle Malkin is a pretty girl and she is a ferocious little fighter for the conservative side. I’m happy that she came to America, but personally I don’t care a plug nickel how she did it. Michelle’s filling out the proper forms and standing in the proper lines benefited me not in the slightest. On the other hand, I have frequently benefited from affordable labor services from Hispanic gentlemen who did my yard work in California, repaired the roof on my Virginia house, painted my lawn furniture, and bussed my table and washed my dishes in restaurants all over America.
Economic impact: They tackle jobs most Americans won’t. Try to understand this, if you give them amnesty, guess what, they won’t take those jobs either!!! The reason they take them is because the jobs paying $20 an hour actually check their legal status. If they are legal, they have no incentive to cut lawns, pick fruit or do any of the other stuff you insist that they should do. So who’s going to cut your lawn? Well the flood of mexicans that will follow…. because remember, you STILL HAVE NOT GOT CONTROL OF YOUR BORDER.
That’s an inventive argument. I think legalizing the status of illegal immigrants will very likely gradually move them out of the off-the-books black market economy and eventually make nearly all of them formally-employed tax-payers, but I don’t think that that means they will suddenly be displacing people with better skills, grander educational credentials, and more extensive indigenous connections. The process of upward mobility only in rare cases favors the first generation arrivee. The general rule is that the second or the third generation become fully assimilated and moves up and out of the immigrant neighborhood and the laboring classes. When they do, decades down the road, yes, we will be needing more immigrants. Trading citizenship and a better life for one’s descendants by doing the rotten jobs at low pay has always been the American way.
And you are never going to have control of thousands and thousands of miles of sea coast and wilderness border without paying some immense army to stand there 24-hours-a-day. It will never be economically feasible to really control the border.
The way to control the border with respect to illegal immigration is to arrange to have our labor needs met domestically by allowing enough legal immigration to meet them.
Threat to American Culture: Assimilation preserves American values… That’s a great platitude, one that we all like to think is true, but the reality is, Hispanic immigrants ARE NOT ASSIMILATING. PERIOD. One only has to live in the Southwest to understand this. You might think that this is some Darwinian process, and to a certain extent it is… But your advocating cultural suicide as a conservative value? How is that Conservative?
As I’ve jocularly noted, a few conspicuous cases of non-assimilation (the Amish) go back to colonial times and work out tolerably enough when they do.
The American Southwest is a peculiar case, and one not affecting most of us (who don’t live there) directly. The Mexicans, one is obliged to note, were actually there first. There have always been Spanish-speaking Mexican communities in the Southwest. You also have some Indians, living on reservations and not completely assimilating. It’s that kind of stuff, beyond the cactuses, gila monsters, and rattlesnakes, that gives your part of the country its special regional flavor, its local color. Take away the cactuses, the Indians, and the Mexicans, and Tucson could be Harrisburg.
The truth is that we have a long record of successfully digesting and assimilating all sorts of exotic undesirables, including types who make today’s Mexicans seem harmless. I believe the Mexicans and other Hispanics will assimilate. It’s true that in LA and other urban barrios, you are going to have politically poisonous radicals and gangsters. All waves of immigration inevitably include a certain percentage of drunks, whores, political agitators, and criminals. They used to publish Socialist newspapers in Polish and Lithuanian back where I grew up during the immigration era. The grandchildren of their readers cannot read Polish or Lithuanian, don’t live there anymore, and commonly vote Republican.
Today’s Hispanic immigrants typically work hard, save their money, and live lives of sacrifice to better their family’s future. I feel quite certain that they feel about taxes and welfare exactly the way I do. People who work hard and have family values are natural born Republican voters. We just need to make it clear that there are lots of Republicans, like myself, who sympathize with their efforts and who admire their sacrifices. If they could be persuaded that not all Republicans hate their guts, we could get plenty of their votes.
You want an end to lawlessness? Get rid of the number system. Go back to the law of 1906. Erect Ellis Airport and Bus Station. Anybody capable of self-support, and not a criminal, diseased, or Islamic, or otherwise subscribing to a noxious ideology favoring war against Capitalism and/or Western society should be free to come there, stand in line, fill out the forms, get examined by a doctor, and enter the US provisionally. After several years of satisfactory residence, he can start applying for naturalization.
The Politico reports that, in the State of Maine, one candidate’s World of Warcraft gaming hobby has become a campaign issue.
In an unusual press release issued Thursday, the Maine GOP attacked Lachowicz for a â€œbizarre double lifeâ€ in which sheâ€™s a devotee of the hugely popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft. In the game, sheâ€™s â€œSantiaga,â€ an “orc assassination rogue” with green skin, fangs, a Mohawk and pointy ears.
Lachowicz is a Democrat running against incumbent state Sen. Tom Martin in south-central Maine, a heavily Democratic district of about 80,000 people. Martin, elected in 2010, is the first Republican to hold the seat since the 1960s, and his seat is one Democrats are eager to flip back.
Lachowicz has blogged under her own name about her World of Warcraft achievements as well as left-wing politics in a dedicated section of the liberal DailyKos.Com. The Maine GOP excerpted several provocative lines form her posts including one on tax policy that concludes, â€œNow if youâ€™ll excuse me, I may have to go and hunt down Grover Norquist and drown him in my bathtub.â€
Other postings use curse words and make to the joy of â€œstab[bing] things,â€ joke about â€œbeing in a Socialist guildâ€ and admit to â€œseriously slacking off at work.â€
Actually, I think the Maine Republican Party has a point there.
I don’t personally see anything wrong with on-line fantasy gaming, but residents of that senatorial district ought to ask themselves: Do I want for my state senator the kind of person who chooses the identity of an Orc? Orcs are green-colored, unintelligent, primitives affiliated with the Horde, “a ravenous war machine fueled by demonic energy,” which is to say, the really, really bad guys.
Professionally, Ms. Lachowicz has chosen to have her avatar pursue the career of an assassination rogue.
WoW decribes the rogue class thusly:
For rogues, the only code is the contract, and their honor is purchased in gold. Free from the constraints of a conscience, these mercenaries rely on brutal and efficient tactics. Lethal assassins and masters of stealth, they will approach their marks from behind, piercing a vital organ and vanishing into the shadows before the victim hits the ground.
So, voters also need to ask themselves, is the kind of person who chooses for her avatar the conspicuously unethical class of rogue likely to be the kind of person we want making fiscal decisions for our state?
On the whole, I think one wants to be voting into public offices of trust and responsibility the kind of people who, when they play Warcraft, make their avatars humans, elves, or pandarens (Yoda types), and who adopt good guy professions like Paladin or Priest, or at least neutral professions like Hunter or Warlock.
Run around electing the kind of person whose avatar is a Level 68 Orc Assassination Rogue and you are going to be getting the likes of Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi.
Democrats in larger numbers are deserting Obama and calling for tax cuts for all Americans.
A.B. Stoddart, at the Hill, observes that you don’t have to wait for November to tell that the tide has turned, the Tea Party has already stopped Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid’s leftist offensive. The war will continue, but the initiative has changed sides.
Even before Christine Oâ€™Donnell handily defeated Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) in an epic upset Tuesday night, the Tea Parties, all of them, had already won. No matter what happens in the midterm elections on Nov. 2, the Tea Party has moved the Democrats to the right and the Republicans even more so, and President Obamaâ€™s agenda is dead. …
As of last week, before the House and Senate even reconvened, it was clear there were enough Senate Democrats joining Republicans seeking an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest earners that the Democrats donâ€™t have the votes to pass President Obamaâ€™s permanent extension of the middle-class tax cuts without passing cuts for the top two tax brackets as well.
When Obama introduced his latest economic proposals earlier this month, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), an ally of the Obama White House, immediately put out a statement not only criticizing Obamaâ€™s newest infrastructure plan but knocking the original stimulus as well. â€œI will not support additional spending in a second stimulus package. Any new transportation initiatives can be funded through the Recovery Act, which still contains unused funds,â€ Bennet said.
Obama wonâ€™t get his infrastructure plan through the Congress, and he knows it. Next year, when he is running for reelection, tax and budget reform will be the only issues he could realistically work on with a GOP majority or a razor-thin Democratic majority. In other words, the Tea Party agenda.
The Tea Party candidates themselves â€” like Oâ€™Donnell, whom Karl Rove called â€œnutty,â€ â€” matter little. Only a few will actually get elected this fall. Yet the Tea Party has won without them. There are no tea leaves left to read. Democrats have been spooked and Republicans threatened, cajoled or cleansed. The results are already in.
“Obama has underestimated the frustration in the country and the power of the Tea Party movement, which gives the prevailing disillusionment a platform and a voice. It is by far the most vibrant political force in America. Obama’s left-of-center coalition, which got young people and intellectuals involved and which appealed to a majority of women, blacks and Latinos, has evaporated into nothing. …
The new right, though, is on the rise. It sets the agenda. America is facing a shift to the right. The Republicans have already marched in this direction of their own accord, regardless how many Tea Party reactionaries get a seat and a voice in Congress in November. The Democrats and the president have been put totally on the defensive. From now on they will only be able to react, rather than act.
Max Fisher, Jesse Klein, and Daniel Dresner debate this burning issue in the Atlantic.
Despite some confusion resulting from George Lucas’s muddled Californian sensibilities, I think it is quite clear in the original Star Wars (1977) that the rebellion was in defense of a senatorial republic overthrown by an evil Emperor, and that the disorders used as an excuse for the tyrant’s seizure of power were occasioned by resistance to government measures being employed to enforce trade guild monopolies upon outlying planets.
Fighting to restore limited government and free trade ought to make the Jedi libertarians. Though I do admit that all that mystical Force talk does make it seem like California is their home planet.