The Rule of the Lawless
For NRO, Kevin D. Williamson writes: Deserts always feel like my natural habitat, and I am very fond of them. That being said, I have, for my sins, spent a fair amount of time in Clark County, Nev., and it is not the loveliest stretch of desert in these United States, or even in the top twelve. Protecting the pristine beauty of the sun-baked and dust-caked outskirts of Las Vegas and its charismatic fauna from grazing cattle — which the Bureau of Land Management seems to regard as an Old Testament plague — seems to me to be something less than a critical national priority. At the same time, the federal government’s fundamental responsibility, which is defending the physical security of the country, is handled with remarkable nonchalance: Millions upon millions upon millions of people have crossed our borders illegally and continue to reside within them. Cliven Bundy’s cattle are treated as trespassers, and federal agents have been dispatched to rectify that trespass; at the same time, millions of illegal aliens present within our borders are treated as an inevitability that must be accommodated. In practice, our national borders are a joke, but the borders of that arid haven upon which ambles the merry Mojave desert tortoise are sacrosanct.
[Kevin Williamson's book "The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure" is available at Amazon]
Strangely, many of the same people who insist that Mr. Bundy must be made an example of for the sake of the rule of law protest at the same time that it is not only impossible but positively undesirable for the federal government to deploy federal resources to rectify the federal crime of jumping the federal border. Read the rest of this entry »
“Once you get a taste for shutting people up, it’s hard to stop. Why bother winning the debate when it’s easier to close it down?”
The delightfully dyspeptic Mark Steyn writes: These days, pretty much every story is really the same story:
- In Galway, at the National University of Ireland, a speaker who attempts to argue against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) programme against Israel is shouted down with cries of ‘Fucking Zionist, fucking pricks… Get the fuck off our campus.’
- In California, Mozilla’s chief executive is forced to resign because he once made a political donation in support of the pre-revisionist definition of marriage.
- At Westminster, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee declares that the BBC should seek ‘special clearance’ before it interviews climate sceptics, such as fringe wacko extremists like former Chancellor Nigel Lawson.
- In Massachusetts, Brandeis University withdraws its offer of an honorary degree to a black feminist atheist human rights campaigner from Somalia.
- In London, a multitude of liberal journalists and artists responsible for everything from Monty Python to Downton Abbey sign an open letter in favour of the first state restraints on the British press in three and a quarter centuries.
- And in Canberra the government is planning to repeal Section 18C — whoa, don’t worry, not all of it, just three or four adjectives; or maybe only two, or whatever it’s down to by now, after what Gay Alcorn in the Age described as the ongoing debate about ‘where to strike the balance between free speech in a democracy and protection against racial abuse in a multicultural society’.
I heard a lot of that kind of talk during my battles with the Canadian ‘human rights’ commissions a few years ago: of course, we all believe in free speech, but it’s a question of how you ‘strike the balance’, where you ‘draw the line’… which all sounds terribly reasonable and Canadian, and apparently Australian, too. But in reality the point of free speech is for the stuff that’s over the line, and strikingly unbalanced. If free speech is only for polite persons of mild temperament within government-policed parameters, it isn’t free at all. So screw that.
CNN is irrelevant, and the SPLC should be recognized and branded in polite society as a “Hate group”
I’d like to thank Kevin Williamson for pointing us to perhaps the dumbest column I’ve ever read on CNN – an actual argument that allegedly “right-wing” extremists are more deadly than jihadists. In addition to Mr. Williamson’s spot-on critique, can we also say something else about jihad since 9/11? The death toll in the U.S. may be “only” 21, but the American toll overseas is at least 6,802 with well over 50,000 injuries, including 16,000 serious injuries. Peter Bergen evidently does not think this important enough to explore, but in the aftermath of the actual worst terrorist attack in American history we engaged in direct combat against jihadists in two separate countries, combat that continues in Afghanistan to this day. In that process, these jihadists not only killed thousands of Americans, they inflicted an unholy death toll on allied soldiers and civilians.
Are these American lives any less precious or important because they were lost overseas? Does the fact that jihadists have proven capable of killing thousands of the best-equipped and best-trained soldiers in the world tell him anything about the destructive potential of jihad compared to the allegedly “right-wing” Klan? (read more)
Unmentioned in some of these critiques of the discredited CNN column: Since when is a KKK member a “right wing” figure? Except in the imagination of dishonest journalists and political propagandists? The Klan was the military-terror arm of the Democratic party in the south, this is not exactly news. The accusation that the KKK is connected to conservative or right-wing ideology is pure fantasy. The famous white supremacist, anti-Semitic murderer Frazier Glenn Miller, ran for public office as a Democrat.
On the other hand, Miller ran for office as both a Democrat and a Republican, making any effort to use his ideological profile to score political points a useless exercise, as the Daily Caller‘s Neil Munro reports:
The gunman who murdered three people in Kansas on Sunday was defeated in primary races in the Democratic and the Republican parties, which could complicate any partisan effort to associate either party with the unusual anti-Semitic attack.
Frazier Glenn Miller was reportedly arrested after the attacks in Kansas, which killed one Jewish woman, and two non-Jews, a grandfather and his 14 year-old grandson.
How the once-transgressive left tries to criminalize fun
For Reason.com, Matt Welch writes: When I first started hearing people on the political left describe themselves with some frequency as progressive back in the 1990s, the term did not seem tethered to the epoch-defining, early-20th-century spasm of moral crusading and government centralization that helped give us everything from trust busting to Prohibition to the Federal Reserve. As articulated by champions like Ralph Nader and Molly Ivins, the progressive label was both a way to get out from under the generation-old baggage of liberal-a term Ronald Reagan and others had turned into an epithet-and to differentiate lefties from seemingly apologetic triangulators like Bill Clinton and that now-vanished tribe known as the New Democrats.
From a libertarian perspective, ’90s progressives were good on issues the New Democrats stunk up (particularly criminal justice and the drug war) and bad on those that made the Clintonites worthwhile, such as lowering trade barriers and restraining federal budget growth. At their best, such as at the “shadow conventions” organized by Arianna Huffington in 2000, progressives of the era challenged both parties to address long-neglected issues and reverse government policies that actively damaged people’s lives.
Since many of the people who self-identified that way came of political age in the ’60s and ’70s, progressives on the whole clearly belonged to the longhaired side of the culture war. They were the ones mocking the squares, pushing the envelope on free expression, and taking up arms in the sexual revolution. The more progressive the publication, the kinkier the sex classifieds in the back.
Wayne Dupree writes: Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman are heros. Their strength and conviction to free blacks from slavery are a testament to what happens when individuals think more of their community than themselves and are willing to risk everything for a cause greater than themselves.
In comparison, modern black “leaders” like Jesse Jackson Jr. and Al Sharpton are tiny and self-serving. They don’t serve black Americans or champion freedom and liberty for all. They champion liberal politics and ideology, and that’s odd; liberals want to see blacks tucked neatly into the roles of their design.
Liberals can’t abide a black person who leaves the black plantation of poverty and handouts to stand on his own two feet; they treat with contempt a black man who turns his back on their free money to work hard to make a good life for himself and his family. How dare these dissidents show the black community what they can do with their lives if they walk away from poverty and work to better themselves?
Too many liberals think they have the black race all sewed up, and it just paralyzes them to hear of black conservatives.
Defending the right to sell and trade arms
David B. Kopel writes: The First Amendment protects both book buyers and booksellers. Does the Second Amendment protect only people who buy guns, or does it also protect people who sell guns? Though this question has divided the federal courts, the answer is quite clear: operating a business that provides Second Amendment services is protected by the Second Amendment. District of Columbia v. Heller1 teaches that regulation of how firearms are commercially sold enjoys a presumption of constitutionality, which does not extend to prohibitions of firearms sales.
[Related: Find John Lott's essential book: More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition (Studies in Law and Economics) at Amazon]
In the lower federal courts, there is a developing split about whether firearms sellers have Second Amendment rights which the courts are bound to respect. Seventh Circuit courts view firearms sellers like booksellers — as holders of constitutional rights. While gun sellers are subject to much stricter regulation than are booksellers, they are both protected by the Bill of Rights. Conversely, in the courts of the Fourth Circuit, gun sellers have no Second Amendment rights.
Brown v. Board of Education was not exactly a popular decision among some state and local governments, and among some lower court judges. The same is true of Heller. One form of resistance to Heller has been to read the opinion in the narrowest possible way, excluding from Second Amendment protection many normal activities involving firearms. One such form of resistance is the claim that the Second Amendment does not apply to gun sales.
A Glimpse into the Political Future: Jonathan Chait’s Advance Apologia for the Democrats’ Defeat in NovemberPosted: April 15, 2014
Fred Siegel writes: Jonathan Chait has written a thoughtful, if debatable, 6,000-word article on race in the Obama years that has stirred a good deal of discussion. It can be read as an advance apologia for the Democrats’ defeat in the 2014 elections. Chait’s thesis, as he sums it up in an online surrebuttal, is that “American politics in the age of Obama has become balkanized not along racial lines, but by how people think about race.” In other words, Chait argues, “the Obama era has produced a cleavage along ideological rather than racial lines,” so that neither black conservatives who support the Tea Party nor the far more numerous white liberals who nod in agreement with Al Sharpton’s preachings on MSNBC are as anomalous as partisans assert. “Liberals,” Chait writes, “dwell in a world of paranoia of a white racism that has seeped out of American history in the Obama years and lurks everywhere, mostly undetectable.” Similarly, he goes on, “Conservatives dwell in a paranoia of their own, in which racism is used as a cudgel to delegitimize their core beliefs. And the horrible thing is that both of these forms of paranoia are right.”
“Parts of the public, not necessarily on the right, have caught on to Obama’s double game, in which his administration has been rhetorically egalitarian and operationally elitist.”
One can commend Chait for his evenhandedness—which has stirred a hornet’s nest of opposition from liberals—without accepting the equivalence he draws between these two views. But the real problem with his essay comes when he steps out of the realm of ideology and into the world of practical outcomes. Six years into the Obama presidency, Americans have ample grounds, independent of race, to dislike him.
[Check out Fred Siegel's book: The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class at Amazon]
Brandeis sides with a spawn of Hamas over a champion of women’s rights.
Author’s Note: This week, capitulating to Islamic-supremacist agitation led by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Brandeis University reneged on its announced plan to present an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the heroic human-rights activist. In my 2010 book, The Grand Jihad, I devoted a chapter to the origins and purposes of CAIR, its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Hamas-support network, and its aim to silence critics of Islamic supremacism. In light of the continuing success of this campaign — despite a federal terrorism-financing prosecution that exposed CAIR’s unsavory background — it is worth revisiting that history. What follows is an adapted excerpt from that chapter.
Andrew C. McCarthy writes: In January 1993, a new, left-leaning U.S. administration, inclined to be more sympathetic to the Islamist clause, came to power. But before he could bat an eye, President Bill Clinton was confronted by the murder and depraved mutilation of American soldiers in Somalia. A few weeks later, on February 26, jihadists bombed the World Trade Center. The public was angry and appeasing Islamists would have to wait.
Yasser Arafat, however, sensed opportunity. The terrorist intifada launched at the end of 1987 had been a successful gambit for the Palestine Liberation Organization chief. Within a year, even as the body count mounted, the weak-kneed “international community” was granting the PLO the right to participate (though not to vote) in U.N. General Assembly sessions. And when Arafat made the usual show of “renouncing” terrorism — even as he was orchestrating terrorist attacks in conjunction with Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other Islamist factions — the United States recognized him as the Palestinians’ legitimate leader, just as the Europeans had done. Arafat blundered in 1991, throwing in his lot with Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War, and that seemed to bury him with the Bush 41 administration. But Clinton’s election was a new lease on life. Read the rest of this entry »
Charles Krauthammer writes: Two months ago, a petition bearing more than 110,000 signatures was delivered to the Washington Post demanding a ban on any article questioning global warming. The petition arrived the day before publication of my column, which consisted of precisely that heresy.
“Long a staple of academia, the totalitarian impulse is spreading.”
The column ran as usual. But I was gratified by the show of intolerance because it perfectly illustrated my argument that the Left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition.
The proper word for that attitude is totalitarian. It declares certain controversies over and visits serious consequences — from social ostracism to vocational defenestration — upon those who refuse to be silenced.
“There is no logic. What’s at play is sheer ideological prejudice — and the enforcement of the new totalitarian norm that declares, unilaterally, certain issues to be closed.”
Sometimes the word comes from on high, as when the president of the United States declares the science of global warming to be “settled.” Anyone who disagrees is then branded “anti-science.” And better still, a “denier” — a brilliantly chosen calumny meant to impute to the climate skeptic the opprobrium normally reserved for the hatemongers and crackpots who deny the Holocaust.
For Ricochet, Jon Gabriel writes: The Ouroboros is an ancient image showing a large serpent consuming its own tail. Venerated by Greeks, Egyptians and Norsemen of yore, it serves as an apt metaphor for modern American liberalism.
The Democratic coalition was largely built on grievance politics. For decades, progressive leaders divided Americans into subgroups based on race, gender, class, age and sexual orientation. Political leaders were the first to stoke this fire, but educators soon joined in, as did the media, NGOs, big business and popular culture.
This coordinated strategy finally bore fruit with the arrival of the Obama era. Democrats had finally convinced the majority of American voters that Republicans are rich, old, white males who couldn’t possibly care about the poor, the young, women or non-whites.
As President Obama assumed power, his Alinskyite past served as the template for a renewed politics of envy, personal grievance and payback. The One Percent must be punished for their wealth. Traditional marriage supporters are hateful bigots on the wrong side of history. Mitt Romney gave old women cancer and locked the younger ones in binders. “The Cambridge police acted stupidly” and “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
As one blogger notes, “Barack Obama thinks his job is to lead the mob, not the country.”
“Yes, of course it’s not true. Yes…I know. It’s fiction. It’s complete bullshit, I know. It’s a wedge issue. It’s all we got. Give it time. If we keep repeating the lie, it will….yes, exactly…It’s perfect…”
The wage gap myth, most recently used by President Obama during the State of the Union Address, states that women make only 77 cents to every dollar that men earn. AEI resident scholar Christina Hoff Sommers debunks the bogus statistic…
The Liberal Gulag
Kevin D. Williamson writes: The word “liberal” has taken a beating over the last few days: A Mozilla executive was hounded out of his position at the firm he co-founded by left-wing campaigners resolved to punish him for having made a donation to a successful California ballot initiative that defined marriage in traditional terms; Adam Weinstein, whose downwardly mobile credibility has taken him from ABC toGawker, called for literally imprisoning people with the wrong views about global warming, writing, “Those malcontents must be punished and stopped”; Mr. Weinstein himself was simply forwarding a dumbed-down-enough-for-Gawkerversion of the arguments of philosophy professor Lawrence Torcello; Katherine Timpf, a reporter for Campus Reform, faced a human barricade to keep her from asking questions of those attending a feminist leadership conference, whose organizers informed her that the group was “inclusive” and therefore she was “not welcome here”; Charles Murray, one of the most important social scientists of his generation, was denounced as a “known white supremacist” by Texas Democrats for holding heterodox views about education policy; national Democrats spent the week arguing for the anti-free-speech side of a landmark First Amendment case and the anti-religious-freedom side of a case involving the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; Lois Lerner, the Left’s best friend at the IRS, faces contempt charges related to her role in the Democrats’ coopting the IRS as a weapon against their political enemies; Harry Reid, a liberal champion of campaign-finance reform, was caught channeling tens of thousands of dollars to his granddaughter while conspicuously omitting her surname, which is also his surname, from official documents, cloaking the transaction, while one of his California colleagues, a liberal champion of gun control, was indicted on charges of running guns to an organized-crime syndicate.
[Order Jonah Goldberg's book "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning" from Amazon]
The convocation of clowns on the left screeched with one semi-literate and inchoate voice when my colleague Jonah Goldberg, borrowing the precise words of one of their own, titled a book Liberal Fascism. Most of them didn’t read it, but the ones who did apparently took what was intended as criticism and read it as a blueprint for political action.
Welcome to the Liberal Gulag.
This article is from 2008, but even more relevant now. I had a flashback today, to a book I read a long, long time ago, “Ecotopia,” that had an influence on my thinking. It was a popular counterculture book at the time (during the post-Watergate Ford/Carter era, I was a typical know-nothing dreamy liberal, barely out of high school) and today I discovered Ecotopia‘s influence was wider than I realized. A quick search turned up this NYT article, exactly what I was looking for.
It confirmed my suspicion, that Ernest Callenbach‘s futuristic book did, in fact, accurately predict trends that are flourishing today. Not just in the Pacific Northwest (where the novel takes place) but in other parts of America, too. If you’ve seen Portlandia, and know this semi-obscure cult book, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Sometimes a book, or an idea, can be obscure and widely influential at the same time. That’s the case with “Ecotopia,” a 1970s cult novel, originally self-published by its author, Ernest Callenbach, that has seeped into the American groundwater without becoming well known.
The novel, now being rediscovered, speaks to our ecological present: in the flush of a financial crisis, the Pacific Northwest secedes from the United States, and its citizens establish a sustainable economy, a cross between Scandinavian socialism and Northern California back-to-the-landism, with the custom — years before the environmental writer Michael Pollan began his campaign — to eat local.
White bicycles sit in public places, to be borrowed at will. A creek runs down Market Street in San Francisco. Strange receptacles called “recycle bins” sit on trains, along with “hanging ferns and small plants.” A female president, more Hillary Clinton than Sarah Palin, rules this nation, from Northern California up through Oregon and Washington.
“ ‘Ecotopia’ became almost immediately absorbed into the popular culture,” said Scott Slovic, a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and a pioneer of the growing literature-and-the-environment movement. “You hear people talking about the idea of Ecotopia, or about the Northwest as Ecotopia. But a lot of them don’t know where the term came from.”
In the ’70s, the book, with a blurb from Ralph Nader, was a hit, selling 400,000 or so copies in the United States, and more worldwide. But by the raging ’80s, the novel, along with the Whole Earth Catalog, seemed like a good candidate for a ’70s time capsule — a dusty curio without much lasting impact.
Jim Geraghty writes: In recent weeks, we examined the Obama administration’s willingness to reverse positions that it had once proudly proclaimed — on whether an individual mandate is necessary, whether the individual mandate is a tax, whether it is important that you can keep your plan or doctor, whether lobbyists should work in a president’s administration, whether a donor should be appointed U.S. ambassador, and so on. Then we noted environmentalists who said they would not criticize or attack lawmakers who supported the Keystone Pipeline, as long as they were Democrats.
“What kind of a country do you get when political leaders are driven by a desire to feel that they are more enlightened, noble, tolerant, wise, sensitive, conscious, and smart than most other people?”
Last week, we expanded the discussion to progressives’ wide-ranging willingness to contradict their own professed principles: gun-control proponents who travel with armed bodyguards, voucher opponents who send their kids to private schools, and minimum-wage-hike advocates who pay their staff less than the minimum wage, among others.
So what do progressives really want? If, as I suspect, the currency of progressivism isn’t policies or results, but emotions, what does that approach build? What kind of a country do you get when political leaders are driven by a desire to feel that they are more enlightened, noble, tolerant, wise, sensitive, conscious, and smart than most other people?