Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

08/01/2012 (2:03 pm)

I Had Help Building That. So?

Whenever President Obama gets too far away from the teleprompter, he says something he genuinely means. That’s a disaster for him, because what he genuinely means is usually something odious to the average American.

Back in 2008, in a candid observation to a plumber named Joe, it was a raw expression of the rationale behind income redistribution, which many Americans properly regard as theft. Respect for private property is the cornerstone of American liberty, and one of the principle reasons government exists is to protect it. For the government to steal property and give it to others who have not earned it negates the reason for government the same way policemen ignoring the law negate the reason for policemen. What candidate Obama said to Joe the Plumber made it clear that the Democrats’ candidate for President embraced at least some ideas from within Marxist thought.

This time around, it is a raw expression of Marxist collectivism — only the Left wants us to think that it was something thoughtful and harmless.

Here is what the President said:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

“Give something back.” As though providing wanted goods and services at an acceptable price, providing jobs for the community, and paying taxes as required by law do not give something valuable to the community on their own.

The Left has been adamant that the furor over this statement is because Obama was misunderstood. “He is not dismissing entrepreneurship,” they cry. “You’re taking him out of context.” Michael Smerconish, a moderate talk show host from my former hometown, Philadelphia, speaks calmly for the Left from the Huffington Post:

…the context of Obama’s two sentences was a far cry from an assault on American entrepreneurship. He was arguing that, while he was willing to cut government waste, he would not gut investments that grow the economy or give tax breaks to the likes of himself or Romney…lost in a squabble over “you didn’t build that” was the opportunity for a more serious conversation about social contracts.

To illustrate the more subtle point about social contracts, Smerconish brings up an earlier speech from Harvard professor and US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (she of the false “native American” claim,) running against Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts, which has gotten fame and notice all over the Internet. Ms. Warren, in an off-the-cuff talk in Andover, MA (a bastion of posh leftists like herself, as it happens,) expressed the same idea as President Obama in more eloquent fashion:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

“The rest of us paid for…” Oh, my God, the arrogance…

What is astounding is that Smerconish and the rest of the Left think we on the right object to these sentiments because we do not understand them. They are incorrect. We understand them perfectly, and reject them. They arise from a system of thought on the basis of which a third of the world was subjugated under brutal tyranny in the 20th century, and hundreds of millions of citizens were murdered by their own governments. We would like to avoid those results if we could, thanks.

These statements from the President and Ms. Warren presuppose that a business exists solely to benefit itself, and nobody else. That particular form of ignorance has its roots in Marxian thought, namely, the notion that the bourgeois make their wealth on the backs of the poor while providing nothing in return, like vampires.

Nothing could be further from the economic truth. The truth is that the primary aim of every successful business is to benefit the consumer, and it only makes profit if it succeeds in benefiting the consumer. This benefits the entire community by providing desired goods and services at an acceptable price.

You don’t think so? Wait ’till you hear how people whine about the loss if it’s forced out of business. Remember how they declared that Catholic hospitals had no right to go out of business, because they provide a unique public good? Remember how they wailed about Wal-Mart putting smaller retailers out of business?

Additionally, the successful business pays taxes. The amount it pays in taxes is fixed by the legislature. The laws passed by the legislature define, for the sake of the community, what the business’ fair share is. By definition in a free republic, if the business has paid its taxes according to law, it has paid its fair share. It is not benefiting from roads “the rest of us” paid for; it is benefiting from roads it helped pay for itself, by paying taxes.

And finally, the business provides jobs in the community, and pays its employees for performing those jobs. The employees also pay taxes, which fund the roads and bridges about which Ms. Warren is so concerned.

So for every successful business that is moral and legal, the social contract has already been fulfilled. The businessman owes nothing more than he has already provided. He is entitled to keep all the profit that is left over, not just “a big hunk of it.” He has already paid back to the community, and owes nothing more.

The entire conversation about the social contract is already encompassed by the US Constitution, and by the body of laws formed under it. The terms of the social contract are defined by the law of the land. When an individual or a business has met the obligations set out in the duly constituted laws, that individual or business has met the terms of the social contract — and owes nothing else. The same is true of people “paying their fair share;” it is completely defined by the law. When a person has met the obligations of the law, they have paid their fair share — and owe nothing else.

If progressives want to reopen that discussion, it signals their intent to revise the basic social contract reflected in the Constitution. (Will they admit that? Never.) They have flooded the nation with their calls for a redefinition of “fair share,” and their notion that somehow, legitimate businesses need to “give back” more than they have already given under the existing social contract.

Have they told us how they intend to redefine those things? Not really, but the structure of ObamaCare gives us a clue: almost the entire “law” consists of the creation of a series of unaccountable bureaucrats, each of which will decide on their own how medical practitioners will meet the standards they produce. There is no recourse for changing the standard produced by the bureau. There is no oversight for the bureau.

They seem to want to be able to define “fair share” and “giving back” themselves, and to modify them at whim. That way, they can create a permanent debt, one that can never be fully repaid. This gives them permanent control over the populace, without any possible appeal or recourse.

This is the language of control. Individuals with control issues do something similar: they create a permanent, interpersonal debt that somehow never gets fully repaid, so you remain under their control. Loan sharks do the same: whatever you pay goes against interest, but somehow the principle never gets repaid and you remain under their control. Political controllers create the idea of a debt that you owe the collective that can never be repaid; that way, you will always be under the control of the collective.

By contrast to this, the US Constitution guarantees that the definition of “fair share” will be determined by properly selected representatives of the people. No person will be held to an arbitrary standard created by some tyrant’s whim, nor will the standard vary by the individual’s race, religion, or national origin, nor may it be changed except by due process of law. Those are the terms of the social contract designed to protect our liberties — the contract that Progressives now want us to reexamine.

Oleg Atbashian, at the PJMedia blog, captured the collectivist spirit of Obama’s remarks perfectly today, and explained in detail where we’ve seen those ideas before. (Note: free registration might be required.) He observed, among other things, that Obama’s intent to pin the success of businesses on the collective encompasses the same spirit by which the left blames its failures on anything but its own ideas. None of us are responsible for our failures, nor for our successes; we all belong to a collective consciousness, and our destiny comes to us from beyond our control:

In the erstwhile USSR, the government redistributed not only the nation’s dwindling wealth; it redistributed successes and failures. All achievements were credited to the Party and its leaders, as well as to a centrally appointed regiment of “Heroes of Socialist Labor” who conspicuously “sacrificed for the common good.” The failures were blamed on foreign aggressors, Western imperialism, enemies of the people, kulaks, saboteurs, corrupt bureaucracy, irresponsible middle management, selfish greed, and lack of proletariat consciousness, as well as on natural disasters and bad weather. Sound familiar?

Yes, we are all dependent on each other, and yes, we are all part of each other. Like so much of that about which the Left lectures, it is annoying, not because it is false, but because it is trivial. We are interdependent; and we cannot build a tree house before God has first created trees. What of it? Every adult knows that he or she has to function as part of an interdependent society to survive: and those of us who have grown up know that when one has lived a moral and virtuous life, one has fulfilled one’s obligation to society. The interdependence of everything is not something liberals grasp and conservatives don’t; it’s something liberals think is new revelation, like teenagers discovering “world peace” for the first time, and conservatives understand is already encompassed in the way we do things. No, the grocer did not build his grocery by himself; and by the same token, I did not fill my refrigerator without the grocer. I thank him by paying his price and honoring the rules of his store. He thanks me by providing fresh vegetables and employing my neighbors. We all get along fine. Beyond that, we owe each other nothing more than decent treatment.

But none of that negates the crucial fact that we are responsible for our failures, and we are responsible for our successes. The businessman really does deserve credit for building his successful business, and President Obama really did insult him when he said that he was no smarter and worked no harder than anyone else. Maybe he didn’t mean it that way, but that’s what he said.

We all get the same benefit from government: we drive on the same roads, and the same firemen put out our neighbors’ fires. So, why aren’t we all equally successful? Because, despite the prating of America’s Marx-influenced political left, individual effort really does make a difference.

President Obama wants us to give him leave to redefine at will how much we all must contribute to the collective in order to fulfill the social contract. The world has already seen where that leads; that’s why we object. We think the social contract under which we currently operate works just fine, thank you very much. We did not misunderstand him at all.

08/06/2009 (4:29 pm)

Look Who's Manufacturing Images Now

The White House strategy for overcoming the true grassroots uprising on health care has been to ridicule the opposition, characterizing it as an organized, paid effort by the insurance industry, staffed with a small number of extreme right-wingers. Comment number one, I have never seen a President deliberately set out to ridicule citizens of the United States for participating in government, and I think it’s repulsive; this alone should be grounds for impeachment. I am not kidding.

Comment number two, I will continue to call the entire “tea party” movement a true grassroots movement until I see strong, consistent evidence to the contrary. I have not seen “strong” evidence that it is organized and paid for yet; in fact, I have seen no evidence whatsoever, not a single shred. I have seen a great deal of personal animation from friends and acquaintances over the snow job President Obama and the Democrats have been pulling on the nation for the past 6 months. I’ve seen well-meaning folks turn out for tea party events in Boston and Hyannis. And I’ve seen the Obama White House lying many, many times already in the past 6 months. So I know who to believe on this.

Unlike the tea party movement, however, the response from the opposition is organized and paid for. RedState has posted links to the organizing memo sent out by Health Care for America Now (HCAN), a group that encompasses more than 1,000 progressive sub-groups, with at least 8 different unions represented on its steering committee, along with MoveOn.org, La Raza, ACORN, and a dozen or so of the progressives’ favorite donation fronts. And yet, with all that professional organizational and fund-raising muscle, it calls itself “grassroots.” Their definition of “grassroots” seems… odd. Cue Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Here’s the memo in .pdf format, if you want to read it. The parts I like are these:

  • “You must bring enough people to drown them out and to cover all our bases so as to marginalize their disruptive tactics.”
  • “We need to stack our folks in the front to create a wall around the Member [of Congress], and we need to stake out the best spots for visibility and signs.”
  • “Make sure you have people holding signs in every place where a TV camera is likely to be and that next to every right wing sign, there’s one of your signs with your message.”
  • “Remember, this is a communications strategy that the right wing is using and our goal is to stop them from hijacking and changing the message and tone of these events. Assign 3-5 people to speak with the reporters who attend and make sure the reporters understand the scope and message of the event… Don’t wait for the reporter to approach you. You must approach the reporters and be assertive in shaping the narrative that they write.”
  • “Line up a number of people who feel comfortable interrupting and prepare them with statements like:
    • ‘Excuse me, I came today to listen to Representative XXX explain how this bill is going to make health care more affordable for me and my family. We’re being gouged by insurance companies that just want to make more profits while we struggle to keep up with premiums and co-pays. Representative, how are you going to fix that?’
    • ‘I’m retired and can’t afford my prescription drugs because I’m on a fixed income. Representative, how is this bill going to affect me?’
    • ‘I want to hear the Representative speak. He’s the one voting on the bill. Representative, how will this bill help people who already have insurance at work?’”
  • “We should demonstrate that we are the majority by chanting: When the other side gets too loud, we should shut them down with chants that counter their message like “Health Care Can’t Wait!” and “Health Care Delayed is Health Care Denied” and prep people to chant at key points when the other side gets most disruptive.”

So… organized demonstrations. Prepared questions. Hand-picked volunteers intending to interrupt. Focus on media representatives. Controlled meetings.

This is what Progressives call “grassroots activism.” But there’s something improper about concerned citizens coming to meetings insisting that their concerns be heard. Uh…right. Sure thing.

Notice the inversion going on: Democrats imagine that they’re the victim of a paid, organized attack. They’re delusional, but they use the delusion as a justification for their own very real, very well-paid organized attack. This is not the first time Democrats have resorted to real crimes in response to imagined ones. By this sort of delusion coupled with rationalization, thuggery has become the norm for the Democratic party; they’ve imagined demons, and then become the demons they imagined. Scary.

Oh, and by the way — the AFL-CIO is going to be bringing its union goons to intimidate the conservatives at the town hall meetings. And the DNC is calling Republican representatives’ offices to find out when to demonstrate in front of them. The DNC, not some grass-roots organization. The Party.

Aren’t you relieved that Hope and Change have invaded America, creating an atmosphere of cooperation and good will?

It’s Krystalnacht, folks. They’ve drummed up the organized mobs to silence the voice of the people. Do. Not. Back. Down.

RedState also posted a fascinating video of an organized AARP meeting that the members took over and ran themselves. Pay attention to the arrogance of the AARP rep, who is clearly not over 55; listen to the Marxist claptrap from their organized speaker, who I swear must be one of those paid union organizers like John Steinbeck wrote about in In Dubious Battle. Watch the young people leave with the AARP rep as the members simply refuse to be cowed into their pre-arranged Obama cheer-leading coffee klatch. This is what’s really going on in America, not the lying crap coming from Progressive and union organizers. Watch:

08/05/2009 (5:43 pm)

What Happens When the Left Tastes Its Own Medicine

Citizens all over the country have risen up and confronted their elected representatives over the charade that is ObamaCare, and the Democrats in power have responded to the voice of the people… by attempting to paint them as mobs of extremists organized by cynical political fixers, who can’t possibly be sincere because they’re too well dressed. Seriously.

Michelle Malkin takes the left to task today for its utterly predictable, utterly disingenuous reaction to legitimate voter anger over having national health care jammed down their throats. Read:

The same Democrat Masters of Astroturf who encouraged their followers to use “in your face” tactics during the campaign season now balk at vocal opposition from their fiscally conservative neighbors and co-workers. Obama’s architects of Kabuki town halls have packed public forums with partisan plants. Now, they accuse opponents gathering at impromptu rallies against the massive health care takeover legislation (which no one has read) of orchestrating “manufactured anger.”

Unaccustomed to pushback, the wealthy, astro-turfed ground troops for Obamacare – underwritten by unions, liberal philanthropists, the AARP, ACORN, and your tax dollars — have resorted to projection. As I’ve reported previously, the single-payer lobby boasts a $40 million budget and a stable of seasoned political operatives based at 1825 K Street in Washington, D.C. Now, that cabal is accusing the broad coalition of taxpayer activists, libertarians, independents, talk radio loyalists, bloggers, and first-time protesters against socialized medicine of being, yes, wealthy and astroturfed.

In a comical missive issued Tuesday afternoon, Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse complained: “The Republicans and their allied groups — desperate after losing two consecutive elections and every major policy fight on Capitol Hill — are inciting angry mobs of a small number of rabid right wing extremists funded by K Street Lobbyists to disrupt thoughtful discussions about the future of health care in America taking place in Congressional Districts across the country.”

The DNC definition of “thoughtful:” Sitting silent about the lack of transparency, deliberation, truth in numbers, and reciprocity on the Obamacare plan. The DNC definition of incitement: Asking out loud, “How can you manage health care when you can’t manage Cash For Clunkers?”

Of course, most of this is not organized, though it would be perfectly legal and appropriate even if it were. The truth is that the majority of Americans do not want the government taking over health care, particularly if it will add to the deficit. The likelihood of that — adding to the deficit — is 100%.

“President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress appear to be losing the public relations war over their plan to revamp the nation’s health care system,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

And since they’re losing, they start hurling lies. How… classy.

There’s no sense getting angry about the left’s reaction. What we’re seeing from some of the unconnected Democrats (like Boxer’s comment about them being well-dressed) is just a confused, wounded reaction to learning that the public does not love the Master that feeds it. However, what’s coming from the White House is pure, Soviet-style disinformation. It turns out that the completely manufactured sound bites we got used to hearing from the Soviets were not something particularly Russian, but something particularly Marxist — the Alinsky-style tactic of simply lying about your opposition. It’s what they do. They’ll continue to make such noise even as they go down in flames, and when the voters throw them out in 2010, we’ll have had a “tantrum,” or worse — we’ll be “vigilantes.”

Mob rule is when the mob takes the law into its own hands and forces other citizens to conform to its will. When a crowd of angry citizens confronts the government representative and demands action consistent with their advocacy, it’s not called mob rule, it’s called petitioning the government, an activity favored by our founders and explicitly protected in the US Constitution. If you want to see what real mob rule tactics look like, Malkin has good videos of tactics being carried out by leftist activists, here, or you can recall this mob activism launched against a Los Angeles restauranteur in the wake of the Prop 8 vote, or this flood of filth aimed at getting a Miss USA contestant to stop violating the mob’s sentiments, or even this threat from the President of mob activism against bankers, or these from the campaign trail. They’ve been doing it for years.

Do something legal but heated in return, and you’re a “teabagger” and a “thug.” But at least they seem to like our clothes.

A caller on Michael Graham’s talk show this morning (WTKK, 96.9 FM, Boston) who had attended one of the town hall meetings, related what the shouting was about at the meeting she had attended. The organizers passed out note cards on which the citizens were to write their questions, saying that the Representatives would read the questions and respond. The citizens did not like this — most of them, apparently, were not favorable to the government’s health care plan — and liked it even less when the Representatives started reading the questions, and every one of the questions that were read were favorable to the government’s plan. Realizing that they were being deliberately ignored, they started shouting their questions and demanding responses.

Who’s the mob, and who’s the victim? Who’s strong-arming whom, here?

But, as I said, this is who they are. We need to consider — is it possible for a republic to remain free when one of the two major parties does not actually intend to abide by the rules of the republic, but will assert dictatorial rule by whatever means necessary? If not, why should anybody not of this party consent to participate with them? Even if we manage to get the government out of the hands of these thugs, how long will it be before they manage to lie their way back into power again? We need to consider what it means to provide new guards for our future security; continuing to participate with incipient tyrants makes no sense. I say, partition the nation, and let the Progressives have their own land to ruin as they see fit — but let’s get them the hell out of ours.

The cake of the day goes to the craven Democratic Representative who lacked the courage to cancel his town hall meeting, but also lacked the courage to face an angry public. His solution? Announce the time of the meeting incorrectly, to minimize the crowd (a lot of them are doing this), and hold the town hall meeting… wait for it… at a children’s hospital.

It’s who they are.

humanshield004

Graphic from Michelle Malkin.

07/20/2009 (9:04 am)

Bork Weighs In on Borking

BORK CONFIRMATIONS HEARINGS 1987After I observed about a week ago that the Bork hearings in 1987 had changed the judicial selection process into a blood sport, I found an interview with Judge Robert Bork concerning the Sotomayor hearings. I was intrigued to discover that he does not entirely agree with me concerning the reason for the change. He blames the political nature of confirmation hearings on the growing activism of the Supreme Court itself.

Here’s Judge Bork’s version:

Newsmax.TV’s Ashley Martella observed that Bork’s “savaging by the left” forever changed the way judges are confirmed, with politics and demographics becoming more important than competence and qualifications.

“That’s entirely true,” said Bork, whose latest book is “A Time to Speak — Selected Writings and Arguments.”

“But the Supreme Court has only itself to blame for that. The Supreme Court made itself, starting in the 1950s, into an increasingly political institution, and once you’re a political institution with that kind of power, people are going to fight to control the institution any way they can.

This sounds right to me, and I stand corrected. The real shift is the result of judicial activism — the Court inserting itself into current politics and making law, whereas its constitutional role limits it simply to deciding constitutional issues regarding existing law. As soon as the Court asserted itself as a maker of federal policy, judicial confirmations became political events.

Bork actually does not roll the clock back far enough; I’m thinking that the real damage was done by Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s, when Roosevelt was prevented from turning the United States into a socialist paradise by that oh-so-inconvenient Constitution, and tried to circumvent it by packing the Court. As with so many other things in recent American history, the real deterioration traces back to the insertions of Marx and his stepchildren into modern politics. The judicial activism of the 1950s was certainly the work of Marx-influenced judges flocking to the courts in the 1930s to “change the world.”

In case you’re wondering, Judge Bork does not consider Judge Sotomayor qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, and says he does not take her seriously when she says she’s governed by law.

Bork called confirmation hearings such as Sotomayor’s “something of a dance. The opposition asks tough questions, the nominee gives a soft and evasive answer and assures everybody that fidelity to the law is the only thing that matters.

“Then having gotten past that, when they’re on the bench they go back to their prior practice of deciding politically. I don’t take Sotomayor’s protestations that she’s entirely governed by law seriously. I think the statements she’s made and the rulings she’s made show that she’s not governed entirely by law.”

06/17/2009 (12:42 pm)

The Second Alinsky President

Jim Geraghty of the National Review has apparently become our unofficial chronicler of President Obama’s Alinsky tactics.

He began a month ago by describing the current administration as “the Alinsky Administration,” explaining that in obedience to his training under Alinsky, Obama’s first obedience is to obtaining power:

Moderates thought they were electing a moderate; liberals thought they were electing a liberal. Both camps were wrong. Ideology does not have the final say in Obama’s decision-making; an Alinskyite’s core principle is to take any action that expands his power and to avoid any action that risks his power.

As conservatives size up their new foe, they ought to remember: It’s not about liberalism. It’s about power. Obama will jettison anything that costs him power, and do anything that enhances it — including invite Rick Warren to give the benediction at his inauguration, dine with conservative columnists, and dismiss an appointee at the White House Military Office to ensure the perception of accountability.

Yesterday he provided another account, this time identifying a troubling tactical pattern arising from the Obama administration: that of attacking the enemy of the moment: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Geraghty correctly notes that this tactic was applied against Jim Cramer, an excitable, boisterous financial prognosticator who attracted derisive and dismissive editorials from the likes of the New York Times, Jon Stewart, and Media Matters — but only so long as he was criticizing the Obama administration’s measures. Once he’d moved on to other topics, they left him alone.

Geraghty notes that we’re seeing the same pattern with the American Medical Association, which is suddenly receiving a flood of vicious attacks from Daily Kos, the Times, Media Matters, and other Progressive groups, painting the AMA as a Washington lobbyist group, a major contributor to the rising costs of medical care, and a relic from the days of the buggy whip.

Why? Simply because the AMA opposes Obama’s national health care proposal.

There are a couple of disturbing elements in this. One is that the resident of the White House, being the President of everybody, traditionally does not assault individual American groups, citizens, or institutions. There have been times when particular critics get addressed directly, as part of an ongoing debate over some topic or other; if that’s what we were seeing, it would be fair enough. It’s not. What we’re seeing, instead, is an attempt at demolishing a reputation in the public’s eyes. This is not debate, although it’s tiresomely typical of leftist speech; it’s character assassination. The President should not engage in it, no matter how badly he wants his agenda implemented.

The second troubling element is the coordination with allegedly independent elements. It’s increasingly obvious that what we’re watching is not legitimate debate from independent commentators, but carefully coordinated propaganda messages emanating from conscious shills of the White House. Media Matters, Daily Kos, Jon Stewart — they all seem to be lending their public positions explicitly to instructions from the White House. If this is not a violation of the law, it ought to be; it’s the stuff of fascist tyrants, and has no place in a free society. Contrary to the childish prating of leftists, there was seldom anything remotely like this from previous Republican administrations, and certainly nothing of the sort of character assassination we’re seeing here.

We have, however, seen this before. Barack Obama is not the first Alinskyite President, he’s the second. The first was William Clinton, who, like Obama, launched character assassination attacks against political opponents through shills. Clinton seldom tried merely to win debates, although he at least maintained an appearance of debating in the public eye. Almost invariably, he simultaneously engaged in character assassination, successfully turning well-meaning patriots like Henry Hyde and Ken Starr into slavering demons in the public eye. Nobody who opposed the Clinton administration escaped with their reputation intact. To this day, Newt Gingrich, arguably the best thinker in the Republican party and one of the most effective Speakers of the House in American history, has trouble being taken seriously as a contender for President because his approval rating was below 20% when he left office, a victim of the Clinton Slime Factory.

We saw plenty of instances of the same approach during the Democratic primary season, from Hillary Clinton (see here, here, and here for starters.) Her supporters now complain of having been the victim of corrupt, hard-ball political thuggery, and they seem to have a case. However, she arguably was simply “hoist with her own petard.”(1) It’s hard to imagine Frau Hillary as an innocent victim in a political sludge match.

We thought it was a reflection of the Clintons’ character. It turns out, instead, to be a reflection of the growing influence of Saul Alinsky among the strategists of the Democratic party. Thanks to Mr. Alinsky, who may be, I fear, experiencing the hospitality of the demonic majesty he once admitted to imitating (he thought he was joking), we are about to learn just how unsafe is the average American citizen, when faced with a chief executive who considers himself unconstrained by Constitutional limits on his power, and who is primarily committed to the expansion and retention of his power. We’re all perfectly safe, just so long as we’re no threat to the President’s personal power. Stand in his way, and we become targets of a great deal more than just the White House. If this doesn’t remind us of something ominous that’s been seen in other countries, we need to think a bit harder.

(1) From Hamlet, by William Shakespeare: “For tis the sport to have the enginer Hoist with his owne petar”. A petard, or petar, was simply a box filled with gunpowder, used to blow open a gate. To have an engineer “hoist with his owne petar” is what happens when he doesn’t scoot away from the lit bomb quickly enough. Oops.

03/26/2009 (5:23 pm)

Oppression

Everybody needs to read this. This is a letter of resignation from one Jake DeSantis, who worked for AIG. He is the recipient of one of those retention bonuses, and he explains why he feels the need to resign, and also to donate the proceeds of his labor to families suffering from the economic downturn. Most emphatically, his reason is not that the bonus was not earned. Quite the contrary; it was earned, but he wants very badly to make sure that none of the politicians who are so cynically abusing his good faith efforts benefits even the slightest from the income he has earned. I don’t disagree with a single word of this.

I’ve excerpted what I consider the meat of the letter, but please visit the Times and read the whole thing.

DEAR Mr. Liddy,

It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G. Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter. Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down…

I have the utmost respect for the civic duty that you are now performing at A.I.G. You are as blameless for these credit default swap losses as I am. You answered your country’s call and you are taking a tremendous beating for it.

But you also are aware that most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses. And I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us. I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress last Wednesday and from the press over our retention payments, and that you didn’t defend us against the baseless and reckless comments made by the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut…

I think your initial decision to honor the contracts was both ethical and financially astute, but it seems to have been politically unwise. It’s now apparent that you either misunderstood the agreements that you had made — tacit or otherwise — with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, various members of Congress and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York, or were not strong enough to withstand the shifting political winds.

You’ve now asked the current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. to repay these earnings…

As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.

Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.’s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.’s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.

The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to “name and shame,” and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press…

That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need…

I’ll continue over the short term to help make sure no balls are dropped, but after what’s happened this past week I can’t remain much longer — there is too much bad blood. I’m not sure how you will greet my resignation, but at least Attorney General Blumenthal should be relieved that I’ll leave under my own power and will not need to be “shoved out the door.”

Sincerely,

Jake DeSantis

The Obama administration’s war against the “rich” — indeed, the Democratic party’s long-standing, ongoing war against the “rich” — is a hell-inspired thing. People are entitled to the money they’ve earned, whether some useful idiot deceived by Marxists gets jealous of it or not. I had to restrain myself from uttering curses toward those tyrants who are abusing the hard work of men like DeSantis for political advantage, but when their condemnation comes from on high, it will have been deserved. Workmen are entitled to the wages for which they’ve worked, and nothing in the size of the check changes that fact.

And in case anybody reading this has had his or her clear thinking distorted by the lies of hell-inspired Marxists and their willing apologists in the Democratic party, remember — if they can do this to the “rich” simply because they’re rich, they can do it to you for whatever reason they concoct. Either the law is king, or it is not, and if it is not, you are not safe. Ever.

Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts.

James 5:4, The Bible, New Revised Standard Edition

By the bye, Attorneys General Blumenthal and Cuomo are following in the footsteps of the tyrant Eliot Spitzer, about whom I wrote about a year ago. You might want to reacquaint yourselves, as this appears to be the motus operandi of the hard left, and your future if you happen to be one of those who earns a decent wage in America. Remember what I said a few days ago: the same system that permits the ordinary person to prosper, permits the extraordinary person to profit extraordinarily — and you cannot remove the latter without demolishing the former.

03/20/2009 (12:39 pm)

First They Came for AIG…

The text of the US House of Representatives’ reaction to the AIG Wage Rage, HR 1586, is available to the public, and it’s frightening on several levels.

Launched because of envy masquerading as a quest for justice, the law was supposed to confiscate most of the bonuses paid to AIG employees out of funds supplied by Congress to rescue the failing insurer. However, the actual wording of the law gives it far wider applicability. The law targets employees of any company that has received more than $5 billion from the TARP fund, mostly financial giants (GMAC, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, Chase, etc. See here.) It establishes a 90% tax rate for “TARP bonuses.”

Is a bonus just a bonus? No; a TARP bonus, according to this law, includes any adjusted gross income for the family exceeding $250,000 for a married employee, or $125,000 for a single employee.

So basically, if a person works for one of the big US banks or brokerage firms, the gross income for their family has just been capped at $250,000.

Now, I’m not saying that’s it’s difficult to live on $250,000 a year. However, since the confiscation occurs only among very large brokerage houses, and since the skills used by the employees of such firms are useful elsewhere, what we’re going to see in very short order is an exodus of talent from large banks and brokerage firms. The best people will leave and go to work elsewhere, where they can make what the market is willing to pay for their talent. The shortage of labor in the big firms that will be created will be filled with the lesser talent that cannot command higher salaries, or workers that have been hoping for promotion into more responsible positions but have been unable to get there. Thus smaller firms will acquire better talent, and larger firms will be staffed by lesser talent.

In short, the Congress has just consigned large, American financial firms to a slow and painful death by incompetence. In doing so, the Congress has guaranteed the decline of the American financial industry and the rise of large foreign financial entities. Thus, the industry that made New York City the hub of the world is being driven offshore… by Congress.

Knowing the impact, many firms from here on will choose not to participate in TARP funds. This will, in effect, cripple any impact that the federal stimulus might have had, either positive or negative. Firms that refuse to participate in TARP will simply muddle through the economic downturn without capital. This is an instance where the unintended consequences of an overreaching Congressional acts might be positive; by frightening companies away from TARP funds, the negative effect of the bailouts might be reduced.

Congress has been warned of the impact. However, true to the character of American liberals, they are more concerned with displaying the appearance of doing something moral to quell inequality than they are with preserving prosperity, genuine virtue, or anything that works. They will persist in their policy even if it demolishes American business, because, after all, there’s nothing more important for the American people than that liberals can say they are brave and moral.

Historically, demagogues and tyrants begin their tyranny by encouraging outrage against a hated group, and creating precedent in their treatment of that group that later gets applied more widely. Do not be surprised if the US government moves to cap income generally; this is just one aspect of the income redistribution that candidate Obama accidentally let slip in Ohio, and which he later denied. He was lying; anybody familiar with the candidate (and not addled by idol worship) knew it. And the more the government attempts to enforce “justice” (which is actually not justice, but a faux virtue that has more to do with hubris than it has to do with anything decent,) the more talent will leave our shores and enrich foreign nations.

We elected them, and now they’re destroying us. Hope you enjoy the rule of Democrats, America.

Oddly enough, the blogger that’s gotten this right is Josh Marshall at TPM. I don’t recall agreeing with him before, even a little. Have a look.

11/05/2008 (9:40 am)

They Have Buried Us

When I was small, Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union from 1953 – 1964, was famously quoted as declaring to the Free West, “We will bury you.” It was taken as a grave threat in those days. I remember it being played in a commercial on TV. As a young liberal, I was fond of pointing out that Khrushchev was simply talking about the natural outcome of history from the Marxist viewpoint; he explained later, “Of course we will not bury you with a shovel; your own working class will bury you.” It never occurred to me that this was hardly less threatening, especially given the fact that our own working class was getting help from the Soviet Union’s political operative class. I suppose it’s not surprising that the actual work of burying the US was accomplished, not by the working class, but by the intellectuals; this is common for Marxism, which has appeal only to those who are pathologically detached from society.

Last night, the American people elected the equivalent of Hugo Chavez to be President of the United States. He lied about what he stood for, but he was permitted to do so by the press, which is supposed to protect us from such attacks. Even so, his lies were transparent to those of us possessing enough education and independence to do our homework; but there were too few of us, and too far removed from the centers of power.

And so, just over 50 years after Khrushchev uttered his threat, the American voting population announced to the world that we no longer believe in the capitalism that produced more creativity, energy, courage, and wealth than the world thought possible, that we’re going to join the ranks of World Socialism, that we’re going to hand our productive power to the government we once properly distrusted, that we prefer craven dependence to stalwart independence. As we turn the responsibility for our destinies over to Mommy Government, the world’s last, stubborn foil to the tyrannical advance of Marxist domination has just been removed. “Social justice,” the crippling of the effective to satisfy the envy of the ineffective, will commence at a greater pace, and be given the force of arms. The world is in for a very dark time, full of poverty, oppression, and violence.

We allowed it by permitting leftists to infiltrate and distort education, entertainment, law, and news. For at least 80 years, the children of those influenced by their thinking have targeted these arenas, creating protected enclaves into which they refuse to permit any competing ideas. Their control of these areas is nearly complete, and friends of liberty are forming no coherent strategy to break their hold, only the occasional foray into the Dark World. Home schooling chips away at the edges, alternative media permit chatter under the radar, but the centers of control remain in leftist hands, and they don’t believe in fair play or free speech. Expect those holes to be plugged very soon. President Obama (I cringe to type it) and his Democratic minions in Congress will quickly see to it that home schooling is illegal in practice, if not explicitly (probably by requiring teacher certification), that conservative speech is crippled, and that the free exchange of ideas cannot take place without government oversight and intrusion. Be assured that no discussion that has any force that might endanger their domination will be permitted for long.

Oh, and expect to be permitted to worship Christ only so long as it does not impair your cooperation with the Junta’s social agenda. That’s coming soon, too; in fact, it’s been coming for a few decades already, and is now upon us.

Will conservatives get another shot two years from now, in the public’s reaction to two years of Democratic domination? Maybe; probably not. It hardly matters. We have now raised two generations of Americans on a form of public education and a flood of popular film and music that is so thoroughly saturated with statist and world socialist ideals that no general election is going to produce a lasting victory for conservative principles. The masses in America think of capitalism as “greed,” of the robust and free expansion of the economy by individuals as “destroying the planet,” and when they say “we,” they mean “the government.”

The American experiment in self-government is over.

Ultimately, America has not rejected capitalism, it’s rejected Christ. The foundation of liberty is, and has always been, devotion to the living Christ. Liberty entered the world through the ministry of Christ, and is leaving now that we’ve jettisoned Him as our Master. As God told the prophet Samuel when Israel demanded that he appoint them a king like all the other nations had, “They have not rejected you, but they’ve rejected Me from being king over them.” (See I Samuel 8).

Sure, there are Christians among the leftists in America, and a number of them are sincere; but they no longer believe they owe their conscience directly to God, but instead to God through His appointed regents, the State. This is the indirection that America’s founders rejected when they wrote the US Constitution; in their construction, men owed their conscience to God, not to God’s anointed sovereign, the King. It’s no mistake, no accident or coincidence, that America rejected capitalism in favor of a leader who declared with messianic overtones his destiny to rule. In God we no longer trust; instead, we trust in Government. We’ve rejected God from being King over us.

American liberty can be rebuilt, but it must be rebuilt from the ground up. It has to start with the proper education of our children to believe in God, in individual responsibility before God, and in individual achievement as a form of service to God and family. It has to be constructed on a foundation of properly defined morals, and on a world-view that remembers that Man does not serve himself.

I’m not going to retreat from politics; I’m still a citizen of the United States of America, however misguided she may be. My strategy, however, for rebuilding a prosperous, felicitous nation friendly to safe families and appropriate personal achievement is to win converts to Christianity; and not just any Christianity, but a Christianity that encourages sound and sober thinking, that understands man’s place in the universe, that can articulate clearly its purpose for living and its reasons to believe.

We are entering very dark times. America’s economic dominance will end very soon, and her military dominance will not be far behind. Obama plans to make us “good citizens of the world,” meaning that our national choices will become subject to the opinions of tinpot dictators and corrupt, demented representatives from third-world nations. They will plunder us, and we will be stripped bare.

But I know how the story ends, and Christ wins. The rock formed without hands crushes all the mountains, and becomes a mountain that fills the whole earth (Daniel 2). The Son of Man is given dominion, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him, and His dominion is everlasting (Daniel 7). If we proclaim the truth of Christ faithfully, men will experience liberty again. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Spiritual liberty is not unconnected with political liberty; they’re the same thing. One does not exist without the other; and political liberty always results where the Spirit rules.

They have buried us, but we will rise again.

10/09/2008 (7:33 am)

The New Party Story is Back

I reported back in June, drawing on research by Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse and Erick Ericson at RedState, about Obama’s endorsement by the New Party when he sought office in Illinois back in the 1990s. This morning, that story is back, based on reporting by Politically Drunk With Power, which produced documents identifying Barack Obama as a candidate for the New Party and for Democratic Socialists of America.

The most damning thing from where I sit is not so much that Obama shows up on New Party fliers, but that efforts are being made to scrub these bits of evidence from web sites. This is consistent with the Obama campaign’s efforts to bully radio stations into refusing to air interviews with reporters like Stanley Kurtz or David Freddoso, and to dissociate himself with obviously radical friends like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, foreign policy advisor Samantha Power, William Ayers, Islamic fund-raiser Hatem al-Hady, and others. It is not the case that Obama formed ordinary associations along the way that inadvertently sound ominous in retrospect. Rather, it is the case that he knows his past associations will expose something that does not fit his current narrative, and he’s going out of his way to erase them. Methinks he doth protest too much.

Let’s make this clear: it’s not wrong for a Socialist to run for office in the United States, it’s their right. It is morally wrong, however, for a Socialist to run while deliberately pretending to be something other than a Socialist. Representative democracy like ours demands that candidates present themselves fairly and honestly; while we understand that there’s some amount of jockeying for niches among voters, we rely on politicians giving us at least a general idea of where they stand. For a Socialist to represent himself as a centrist Democrat specifically because he knows the public will not vote for a Socialist is not just deeply immoral, it’s a deliberate attempt to take down the system. Obama should be tarred and feathered, and run out of town on a rail.

American Thinker finally said what I’ve been thinking for the better part of a year: Obama was “groomed by an older generation of radical leftists for insertion into the American political process…” He’s a Trojan Horse candidate for the hard left.

Hot Air comes up with how this is likely to play in the media, if it gets any attention at all: it’s all about judgment. Referring to David Brooks’ supercilious honking for The Atlantic at HuffPo this morning about Obama’s intellectual prowess (and Palin’s lack thereof,) Allahpundit wonders how Obama’s alleged acute perception is going to square with his string of protestations about what he didn’t know about his friends.

Truly, except for Ayers’s terrorist background, Wright’s sermons, Pfleger’s race-baiting, and the NP, his awareness of what’s going on around him is laser sharp.

The fact is, though, he knows all about his friends, and he’s been lying about them all along. They’re all hard leftists, and he’s one of them.

10/07/2008 (9:39 am)

Normalization is Nigh

This is useful background information, and 17 minutes well worth spending. This interview is more than 20 years old, but the Soviet defector in the interview describes tactics that appear still to be in play in American society. Understanding these tactics is especially vital in these days of Obama Joy and crises being used as a lever to nationalize huge portions of the economy.

I cannot vouch for the individual in the video, a defector named Yuri Bezmenov who claims to have a big-picture overview of KGB strategy, having been trained by them to work subversively as a journalist in the 1960s. He sounds authentically Russian by his attitudes, accent, and figures of speech, and he seems to be describing accurately a set of strategies that work, but I can find very little information about him online.

The interview was recorded in 1985, during the closing days of the Cold War. It was the product of a filmmaker named G. Edward Griffin, who is arguably a nut case, and came to us by way of the George Wallace campaign. I wouldn’t bother, except it’s not Griffin who’s talking most of the time; Griffin’s role was to find and feature Bezmenov, and I happen to agree that he’s worth hearing out.

If Bezmenov is to be believed, the level of infiltration into American media and education by active KGB operations is astonishing; indeed, Bezmenov says it was astonishing to him. Lots of people will not believe him, which creates a tricky circularity: if he’s telling the truth, the testimonials of guys like Bezmenov get reviled because of activism by guys like Bezmenov. I can provide independent verification only from two sources. First, you can read this review by Rob Hafernik at Roborant; skip over his unbelievably long analysis of one Look Magazine issue, the sum of it is that Bezmenov spoke truly about it. Also, Paul Weyrich noted a couple of years ago a comment by one of Boris Yeltsin’s officials that the KGB’s plants in American media were still there long after the Cold War ended, a comment which I featured in an early blog article in 2006. These make Bezmenov seem believable but don’t fully corroborate his story.

Toward the end, Bezmenov notes that the enemy is not the Soviet Union, but World Socialism. He was correct about this even at the time, and doubly so today. Anybody who thinks Socialism simply vanished when the Soviet Union folded has not thought things through. If you’re curious to know what did happen to all the socialists, the book to read is David Horowitz’s Unholy Alliance. The plan for the advance of World Socialism continues as before, lacking only the official Soviet state sponsorship it once enjoyed.

The role of the American Left is particularly worth noting here. I’ve been saying for years that most of them are dupes, and have no idea what they’re serving. Bezmenov notes that the historical record proves that they’ll mostly be taken out and shot once the government is under the sway of normalized socialism.

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