[BOOKS] The Silencers 

The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech, by Kimberly Strassel (Twelve Press, 396 pp., $30)

I Find that Offensive!, by Claire Fox (Biteback Publishing, 179 pp., $14.95)

Fred Siegel writes: 

…Strassel’s chapters on the politicization of the IRS in Obama’s hands make for a striking summary of Chicago skullduggery. In 2012, an election year, the IRS, led by liberal operative Lois Lerner, systematically sidelined conservative (often Tea Party) organizations. The broadest and deepest scandal in IRS history is more than three years old, but there is little chance that Obama’s Chicago-ized Justice Department will hold anyone accountable. Strassel also discusses the attempts led by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Dick Durbin of Illinois to criminalize criticism of the standard-issue UN position on Unknownclimate change. The senators insist that manmade climate change is a matter of “settled science.” But climate is always changing, and science is never settled.

[Order Kimberly Strassel’s book  “The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech from Amazon.com]

In late 2008, after Democrats took control of all three branches of government, the Left realized, writes Strassel, that it could use the federal bureaucracy to deploy campaign finance laws selectively against its opponents. The Left could also call upon “the extraordinary new power of the Internet and social media” to convince “a credulous public” that its assaults on opposition political activity “were aimed at ‘cleaner’ and ‘more open’ elections.” This dynamic constitutes what Strassel calls “the modern intimidation game” that “now defines American politics.”

[Read the full review here, at City Journal]

In Wisconsin, Democrats enraged by Governor Scott Walker’s successful effort to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees played the intimidation game even while out of power. The state’s Progressive-era laws, designed to ensure fair elections, and its unique Government Accountability Board were turned against conservative activists who supported Walker. Democratic Party county prosecutors pressed an array of lawsuits and used armed sheriffs’ deputies to stage early-morning raids, guns drawn, on the homes of conservative activists suspected of having marginally violated state campaign finance laws—in this case, the heinous crime of having outside committees coordinate campaign expenditures with Governor Walker’s cover_9781849549813electoral efforts. Further, the accused were forbidden by state law of telling anyone, except their lawyers, about the raids. Most of this, as Strassel accurately notes, was “simple harassment.”

[Order Claire Fox’s bookI Find that Offensive!from Amazon.com]

As for real wrongdoing, the Obama administration, as Strassel explains, has slow-walked documents required for the investigation into the IRS scandals and the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious fiasco, in which the federal government inadvertently armed Mexican drug cartels. Moreover, the House committee examining the Benghazi debacle still doesn’t have tens of thousands of Hillary Clinton emails. But the investigation did inadvertently expose the former secretary of state’s home-brewed email server. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘Sex, Drugs, & Robots’: Reason’s Katherine Mangu-Ward on the Future of the Magazine

Reason‘s new editor in chief Katherine Mangu-Ward sat down with former Reason editor and author Virginia Postrel (now a columnist at Bloomberg View) at Reason’s Los Angeles headquarters to talk about the future of the magazine as it nears its 50th anniversary.

Nick Gillespie—and to some extent Matt Welch—their version of Reason was sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Mine is more like sex, drugs, and robots,” says Mangu-Ward.

« The News Mausoleum Commentary Magazine

You may know Mangu-Ward’s work already as Reason’s managing editor or from her insightful cover stories covering everything from defending plastic bags to why your vote doesn’t count.

Approximately 48 minutes.

boys-magazine Read the rest of this entry »


Antlers Hunter S Thompson Stole from Hemingway’s Home Returned to Family

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The late gonzo journalist ‘got caught up in the moment’ on a visit to his idol’s home, his widow explained, and had long planned to return them.

 reports: A set of antlers stolen by the late Hunter S Thompson from the home of Ernest Hemingway has been returned to the Nobel laureate’s family by the gonzo journalist’s widow.

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Anita Thompson told the website BroBible that Thompson took the elk antlers from Hemingway’s home in Ketchum, Idaho, in 1964. Hemingway shot himself in the home in 1961. Thompson visited three years later, to write an essay about his visit, What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum?, exploring “just what it was about this outback little Idaho village that struck such a responsive chord in America’s most famous writer”.

Ernest Hemingway's home near Havana, Cuba, is expected to soon receive an infusion of badly needed building supplies from the United States. An American foundation restoring the legendary writer's home in Cuba on Saturday, June 20, 2015, signed an agreement with the Cuban government to -- for the first time -- import construction materials directly from the United States to aid the preservation efforts. (CNN)

Ernest Hemingway’s home near Havana, Cuba, is expected to soon receive an infusion of badly needed building supplies from the United States. An American foundation restoring the legendary writer’s home in Cuba on Saturday, June 20, 2015, signed an agreement with the Cuban government to — for the first time — import construction materials directly from the United States to aid the preservation efforts. (CNN)

The young man who would go on to write Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and to invent gonzo journalism also, according to his widow Anita Thompson, “got caught up in the moment” and stole the antlers, going on to hang them in his own garage. In his essay, Thompson refers to “a big pair of elk horns over the front door” in Hemingway’s “comfortable-looking chalet”.

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Anita Thompson told Brandon Wenerd at BroBible that her late husband, who killed himself in 2005, “had so much respect for Hemingway” and “was actually very embarrassed” by his actions. Read the rest of this entry »


Venezuela’s Road to Literal Serfdom

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Friedrich Hayek’s classic book The Road to Serfdom describes the popular delusions that have led to the breakdown of civil society in Venezuela.

Barry Brownstein writes: In his classic 1841 book on financial bubbles, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Charles Mackay observed, “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

“In societies turning to socialism, there is no appreciation of scarcity. There is no appreciation that ‘things cannot all be done at the same time, that anyone of them can be achieved only at the sacrifice of others.’”

Mackay covered religious and political delusions, too. “We see one nation suddenly seized, from its highest to its lowest members, with a fierce desire of military glory; another as suddenly becoming crazed upon a religious scruple,” he recounts, “and serfdomneither of them recovering its senses until it has shed rivers of blood and sowed a harvest of groans and tears, to be reaped by its posterity.”

[Order Friedrich Hayek’s classic “The Road to Serfdom” from Amazon.com]

Venezuela is sowing its harvest of “groans and tears.” Due to the breakdown of civil society in the country, even war-plagued Syrians feel more safe in their homes than do Venezuelans. Venezuelans are so hungry that they cried at the sight of food in Columbia. Recently the hungry broke into a zoo to kill a horse for its meat. Literally, they have become serfs that may be required to work 60 days or more in agricultural fields.

“The hard to give up delusion of socialists is that there are coercive plans that will benefit all. Venezuelans have seen the means of production nationalized in the name of the common good and with every intervention their standard of living fell further.”

Venezuela has the world’s worst rate of economic growth, and the worst inflation rate. It has become like “a gangster state that doesn’t know how to do anything other than sell drugs and steal money for itself.” Socialism has virtually destroyed civilization in Venezuela making it seem like a “hurricane [has] swept things away.”

[Read the full text here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

When the history of this tragic period in Venezuela is written, the population will have plenty of “culprits” to blame. In blaming many will eschew their own responsibility. Some will blame Chavez; others will blame Maduro. Some will follow their beloved leaders and continue to blame the “elite” and the capitalists. The true believers will continue to insist there is no inherent flaw in socialism; they will simply say mistakes were made that will not be made again.

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“Believing that the “coercive or arbitrary intervention of authority,” can coordinate and adjust our individual activities is delusional. With this delusion comes disbelief that a market economy can solve problems and advance society. Those who cherish such delusions may find themselves hungry.”

We are not the victims of the world we see. Our delusions, our beliefs have consequences. The fact that our delusions are often invisible to us does not make them any less powerful or any less consequential. Again, Mackay observed that a population subject to delusions “only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

The new idea of freedom “gave the socialists another word in common with the liberals and they exploited it to the full.

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Venezuelans have not yet recovered their “senses.”  Caracas radio host Glen Martinez stubbornly insists that the “reforms” that Chavez instituted will never be reversed. “We are not the same people we were before 1999,” Martinez said. Many share Martinez’s sentiments; daily the true believers still march and  promise to spill their blood in support of the government.

“The fact that our delusions are often invisible to us does not make them any less powerful or any less consequential.”

There is no better book than Friedrich Hayek’s classic The Road to Serfdom to explain the popular delusions that helped to virtually eliminate the market economy and civil society in Venezuela. Writing during the depths of World War II, Hayek intended his book as a warning “to the socialists of all parties.” What happened in Venezuela can happen wherever a critical mass of the population begins to hold certain delusionary beliefs.

Popular Delusion 1: Freedom Means Freedom from Necessity

Hayek points out that freedom in Western countries traditionally meant “freedom from coercion, freedom from the arbitrary power of other men.”

Socialists point to a “new freedom” which is “freedom from necessity” which releases us “from the compulsion of the circumstances which inevitably limit the range of choice of all of us.”

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Hayek adds, “the demand for the new freedom was thus only another name for the old demand for an equal distribution of wealth.”

Believing that these two types of freedom can be combined is delusional. Hayek points out that the new idea of freedom “gave the socialists another word in common with the liberals and they exploited it to the full….Few people noticed [that the word freedom was being used differently] and still fewer asked themselves whether the two kinds of freedom promised really could be combined.”

Popular Delusion 2. Only Coercive Planning Can Coordinate Activity

Almost every individual and organization plans. Writes Hayek, there is no “dispute about whether we ought to employ foresight and systematic thinking and planning our common affairs.”

Hayek thought that to plan or not to plan is not “the real question.” Instead, we should ask if “the holder of coercive power should confine himself in general to creating conditions under which the knowledge and initiative of individuals is given the best scope so that they can plan most successfully; or whether a rational utilization of our resources requires central direction and organization of all our activities according to some consciously constructed ‘blueprint.’”

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Those who cherish such delusions may find themselves hungry.

The humanitarian disaster in Venezuela has been a long time in the making. In 2010, the hungry waited while “2,340 shipping containers with more than 120,000 tons of rotting food (estimated to feed 17 million people for one month)” sat at the government run port of Puerto Cabello. Read the rest of this entry »


Pulp Fiction: ‘The Avenger’, September 1939 Issue, Cover Art by H.W. Scott

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September 1939 issue

Cover art by H.W. Scott

Seattle Mystery Bookshop


[VIDEO] Charles C.W. Cooke on Brexit, #NeverTrump, and the Future of National Review 


Super Science and Fantastic Stories: ‘Lord of Death: The Last Secret of a Dead Planet’

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Pulp Cover: ‘Castaway from Space’

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[VIDEO] Watch Democrats Try to Convince a Libertarian to Vote for Hillary

With the growing dissatisfaction of the two-party system, more and more Americans are ditching their party identification and turning independent. A 2015 Gallup Governance survey found that 27 percent of the electorate can be characterized as libertarian—outnumbering conservatives (26 percent) and liberals (23 percent).

This makes them a highly coveted voting bloc, and one that Hillary Clinton needs to win over in order to prevent a Donald Trump presidency.

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Reason editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie found delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA to see if they could convince him why libertarians should vote for Clinton in November or if they’re better off with a third option.

Approximately 3 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »


Happy Birthday Ernest Hemingway

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The great author Ernest Hemingway was born on this day, July 21, 1899. Pictured here in 1952, Cuba. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

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Ernest Hemingway and Carlos Gutierrez aboard Hemingway's boat, the Pilar, 1934. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Ernest Hemingway and Carlos Gutierrez aboard Hemingway’s boat, the Pilar, 1934. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.


[VIDEO] Jonah Goldberg with Bill Kristol: Trump’s Candidacy, Conservative Exile, and ‘Liberal Fascism’ Revisited

editor-commen-desk‘The Newsletterist of Our Time’. My favorite part appears at 1:16:03 – 1:32:20, where Jonah discusses some important books and essays that have influenced his writing. Spoiler: Goldberg, a bonafide scholar and ‘deep diver’ as an adult (the recommended readings discussed here include some of the most influential texts of 20th century conservative thought) was an ardent fan of science fiction and comics as a young man. Jonah’s absurdist flourishes and madcap pop-culture riffing are a happy result of this early influence. I’ve often thought Goldberg could easily ended up as a screenwriter, or sitcom/variety show writer, but accidentally became a professional conservative instead.

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Also revealed: Both Goldberg and Kristol grew up in Manhattan. Their familiarity with the local media climate liberal-fascismthat gave rise to Donald Trump’s public persona is briefly explored here.

[Order Jonah Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning”  from Amazon]

Exit question: Is American conservatism preparing to go into exile? As the two leading presidential candidates offer competing versions of statism? Watch the whole thing.

Published on Jul 17, 2016

The National Review senior editor on Donald Trump’s candidacy. Click “Show more” to view all chapters. For more conversations, visit conversationswithbillkristol.org
Chapter 1 (00:15 – 41:02): On Trump and Conservatism
Chapter 2 (41:02 – 57:38): Liberal Fascism Revisited
Chapter 3 (57:38 – 1:16:03): Liberalism, Conservatism, and 2016
Chapter 4 (1:16:03 – 1:32:20): Suggested Reading Read the rest of this entry »


Noted Anti-Capitalist Man of the People Sanders Inks Book Deal 

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“The reason it’s impossible to respect American progressives is that they are ALL too stupid to realize that the people they look up to are more than happy to make all the money they can, and become power brokers in the ‘rigged’ system while doing so.”

— Stephen Kruiser

The Associated press reports:

Just days after ending his campaign and endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders is preparing to take his message to the printed page.

Thomas Dunne Books told The Associated Press on Thursday it will publish Sanders’ “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In.” The book is scheduled to come out Nov. 15, a week after election day. It will include both his policy ideas for the future and reflections on his surprisingly strong run in the primaries.

The 74-year-old Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, attracted millions of voters with his blunt rhetoric and progressive agenda of raising taxes on the rich, overhauling campaign financing and providing universal health care and free college education…(read more)

Stephen Kruiser writes:

…Sanders just endorsed the woman he’s spent months saying is part of the corrupt big money Wall St. system he rails against for his kiddie hordes, and now he’s got a book advance that he’s too coy to share. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Chinese Agents Acted Like Triads’, says Bookseller in Abduction Row

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An outspoken Hong Kong bookseller who has become a symbol of opposition to China’s authoritarian government has accused Chinese security agents of behaving like the notorious triad gangs in a bid to silence the publishers of provocative books about the country’s leaders.

Lam Wing-kee shot to prominence in June when he revealed how he had been spirited into secret detention in eastern China by a mysterious group of agents supposedly acting on the orders of the Communist party leadership.

Writing in the Diplomat, Amnesty International’s China researcher William Nee said Lam’s testimony had provided “a blow-by-blow account of the abusive tools that have become Chinese authorities’ modus operandi to silence critics since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012”.  Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND 2006: Christopher Hitchens on Thomas Jefferson


Comics: ‘Human Insect Diary’

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Pulp Fiction: ‘Lady, That’s My Skull’

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Source: 


‘Temptation and Shame in the Swampland’

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[PHOTO] of the Day: ‘New Teen Fantasy & Adventure’

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