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A Revolt Against Deference

People aren’t rejecting truth – they’re rejecting the values of the elites.

Frank Furedi writes: When political commentators talk of the emergence of a post-truth world, they are really lamenting the end of an era when the truths promoted by the institutions of the state and media were rarely challenged. It’s a lament that’s been coming for a few years now. Each revolt of sections of the public against the values of the elites has been met with the riposte that people are no longer interested in the truth. What the elites really mean is that people don’t care about their version of the truth. So when the French celebrity philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy asserted that people have ‘lost interest in whether politicians tell the truth’, he was venting his frustration at an electorate that no longer shares his values.

Today’s elite angst about so-called post-fact or post-truth public discourse is but the latest version of an historical struggle – a struggle over the question of who possesses moral and intellectual authority. Indeed, the rejection of the values and outlook of the holders of cultural power in many Western societies has long been portrayed as a rejection of truth itself. The reason elite values have been enshrined as ‘the truth’, right from the Ancient Greeks onwards, is because the rulers of society need to secure the deference of the masses. The masses are being encouraged to defer not to the power of the elites, but to the truth of elite values.

That this is not widely understood is due to contemporary society’s reluctance to acknowledge that cultural and political life still relies on the deference of the public – passive or active – to the values and moral authority of the elites. The term ‘deference’ – ‘submission to the acknowledged superior claims, skill, judgement or other qualities of another’, as the OED defines it – suggests a non-coercive act of obedience to authority. Hence it was frequently coupled with terms such as instinct, custom and habit (1). In the 19th century, it was frequently used to imply people’s willingness to accept and bow down before the elites on the basis of their superior wisdom. Deference presumed the intellectual and moral hegemony of the educated middle class, or cultural elite, over the wider public.

In recent decades it has been suggested that the era of deference is over. We are told that people are far too critical to defer to the superior wisdom of others. In this context, the idea of deference has acquired negative connotations, and is often identified with uncritical thinking. However, in practice, deference is still demanded by elites. But it is demanded in the form of calls to respect the authority of the expert, because he speaks the truth. So, in almost every domain of human experience, the expert is presented as the producer not just of facts, but also of the truth. Those who fail to defer to experts risk being denounced as irrational, superstitious or just plain stupid. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] OH YES THEY DID: Reporter Asks Bill Clinton Questions About Juanita Broaddrick, MSNBC Edits Out the Footage

 writes: MSNBC edited out footage of a reporter asking Bill Clinton repeated questions about the reemergence of Juanita Broaddrick, who has long alleged Clinton raped her, Thursday afternoon after airing the exchange in its entirety in an earlier segment.

Clinton was asked by a reporter about Broaddrick on Thursday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after he gave a stump speech there in support of his wife’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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The reporter, according to the Daily Caller, was its own Kerry Picket. In an article entitled “Bill Clinton Avoids Reporter’s Question About Reemergence of Juanita Broaddrick,” the Daily Caller posted the full video of the exchange that played on MSNBC at 2:29 ET.

[Read the full story here, at freebeacon.com and the Daily Caller]

Clinton answered NBC reporter Kristen Welker’s questions, which did not mention Broaddrick, about the effect of his past on his wife’s campaign, but Clinton ignored Picket’s queries regarding Broaddrick. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Melchior: Records Show Feds Kept Mt. Rushmore Closed During Shutdown to ‘Make it Hurt’

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For more on Jillian’s report on the Department of Interior’s decision to keep Mount Rushmore closed, read her latest piece, “Inflicting Pain for Political Gain.”

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Gerard Baker, superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Memorial (Kristina Barker/ Rapid City Journal)

National Review Online


STONEWALL: Shutdown Theater at the National Parks

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For NROJillian Kay Melchior reports:  The shutdown resulted in 7.88 million fewer visitors at national parks, costing the economy $414 million, according to a news release from the Department of Interior that reads more like an accusation than an apology.

“While the Department of the Interior was eager to broadcast the costs to the economy, it’s been much more sheepish about releasing public records regarding its shutdown behavior…”

Though you wouldn’t know it from the news release, the National Park Service made the shutdown vastly more painful than it needed to be. For example, in South Dakota, the federal government not only blocked the entrance to Mount Rushmore but also cordoned off roadside spots that might have offered tourists a nice view. It closed the World War II memorial to even visiting veterans. And the Park Service demanded state-run sites on federal lands close their doors to the public.

“…it would be extremely embarrassing if the Department of Interior were forced to admit it purposefully made things worse…”

Read the rest of this entry »


Beware That College Brochure: Colleges Use Photoshop to Paint Faux Diversity

NPRA Campus More Colorful Than Reality: Beware That College Brochure:

wisconsin-uPaul Caron‘s TaxProf Blog turns up this, from NPR:  Diallo Shabazz was a student at the University of Wisconsin in 2000 when he stopped by the admissions office. “One of the admissions counselors walked up to me, and said, ‘Diallo, did you see yourself in the admissions booklet? Actually, you’re on the cover this year,’ ” Shabazz says.

The photo was a shot of students at a football game — but Shabazz had never been to a football game. “So I flipped back, and that’s when I saw my head cut off and kind of pasted onto the front cover of the admissions booklet,” he says.

This Photoshopped image went viral and became a classic example of how colleges miss the mark on diversity. Wisconsin stressed that it was just one person’s bad choice, but Shabazz sees it as part of a bigger problem.

Read the rest of this entry »


5 things to know about the Gettysburg Address

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So where was Lincoln, exactly?

Where in Gettysburg, exactly, did Lincoln actually deliver his Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863? A prominent, 1912 monument to the speech by the entrance of the town’s National Cemetery leads casual observers to believe it happened there. But look closely: A nearby, vintage plaque says the speech occurred 300 yards away on the spot of another cemetery monument (to fallen soldiers). Except . . . that’s not right, either, modern research has found. The true spot, according to research backed by the National Park Service, lies along the crest of a hill just outside the gates of the cemetery, on the grounds of an older, private cemetery.

Lincoln wasn’t the keynote speaker

The dignitary who spoke before Lincoln, Edward Everett, delivered what was scheduled as the main speech of the day. The former Massachusetts governor and onetime Secretary of State took two hours navigating its 13,607 words.

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The speech was really, really short

Lincoln’s speech, a mere 271 words if you use the version that’s attributed to Lincoln, took only two minutes. The New York Times reported of the Gettysburg Address: “It was delivered (or rather read from a sheet of paper which the speaker held in his hand) in a very deliberate manner, with strong emphasis, and with a most business-like air.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Presidential Irony Alert: ‘Professional Activist who Profits from Conflict’

IRONY ALERT: 'Professional Activist who Profits from Conflict'

RULE 12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.


It’s Time To Let Somebody Competent Run National Parks (Hint: Private Enterprise)

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J.D.Tuccille writes: The federal government has demonstrated the astounding ability to deal with its budget crunch by closing profitable operations like national parks, and thereby drown itself in red ink on its “money-saving” efforts. That’s right, closing the national parks cost about $450,000 in lost entrance fees and rentals, every day. That’s watching the bottom line, government-style. But even at the best of times, the federal government has proven itself a good steward of the national parks only when it lets somebody else do the work. Given the track record of government management of parks, and of parks managed by private contractors, maybe it’s time to relieve the feds of a burden to which they’ve proven themselves inadequate. Read the rest of this entry »


Why are intellectuals, sometimes the most intelligent among us, so dumb?

The Intellectual Elite’s Doomed Romance with Barack Obama

4831728106_obama_snob_xlargeWesley Pruden writes: This is the question that confounds everyone; some intellectuals most of all. The late William F. Buckley Jr., a certified egghead, once said he would rather be governed by the first 50 names in the Boston telephone book than by the professors at Harvard.

Another wit observes that an intellectual is someone who so prefers theory over experience that he would sit down on a red-hot stove, twice. You can be too smart for your own good, and have the blisters on your bottom to prove it.

The intellectual romance with the clever Barack Obama continues. Having invested so much in candy and flowers, they must ignore all the evidence of being dumped.

His cultivated demeanor and carefully applied patina of synthetic sophistication, fraudulent as it may be, is what attracted the adoration of intellectuals from across the political spectrum in 2008, says Charles Murray, the social scientist and an intellectual with impressive books, studies and learned papers. He admits that he’s a dumpee.

“It’s kind of embarrassing to admit it,” he tells an interviewer for the website Daily Caller, “but I responded in part to his rhetoric because he talks just like me.”

“It’s his whole way of presentation of self … of a little self-deprecation in the argument and picking out a nuance here, which is all the ways that we overeducated people have been socialized in the same way. It’s the way we carry on discourse. Along with [seeing] what was a very engaging personality, I kind of ignored things which … a lot of working-class people glommed onto right away.”

“It’s kind of embarrassing to admit it, but I responded in part to his rhetoric because he talks just like me.”

Working-class stiffs, the people an earlier generation of political scientists called “Joe Sixpack,” having earned their blisters and calluses by heavy lifting, are too smart to take a seat on the red-hot stove even once.

Having been to some big towns and heard some big talk, they were too smart by miles to be taken in by a smooth-talking butter and egg man from Chicago.

(Stop the presses: Butter and egg man? What? I had to look this up. “Big Butter and Egg Man” is “a free spender or wealthy investor , a naive prosperous businessman”. Okay.  But the source is a 1926 jazz song written by Percy Venable. Venable was a record producer at the Sunset Cafe and wrote the song for Louis Armstrong and singer May Alix. The song is often played by Dixieland bands, and is considered a jazz standard. Why Wesley Pruden chose this obscure reference, who knows. Either I’m not as culturally hip as I’d like to think I am–and this phrase is commonly known–or Wesley Pruden is intentionally screwing with us. I am inclined to believe the latter. It prompted me to visit the song on YouTube, listen here. It swings, baby, I recommend it! “Butter and egg man“? Go figure. Okay, back to Pruden‘s rant…)

“It’s not that I think he is not a patriot,” says Mr. Murray, “but remember the line, he said, ‘You didn’t build that.’ No American is going to think you can say that, no matter what your political views are, because it’s just disastrous to say that. He is clueless about this country in some profoundly disturbing ways.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Shutdown Experience Shows Cutting Government Would Be Pretty Painless

We should slash government budgets to deal with debt.
Does this mean I get less candy? But...I like candy. Can't we have candy forever?

Does this mean I get less candy? But…I like candy. Can’t we have candy forever?

While Washington, and the press, have been in an uproar over the government shutdown and the debt-limit negotiations, the debt itself has continued to climb. And that inexorable tide is going to cost us, eventually. As economist Herbert Stein once observed, something that can’t go on forever, won’t. And this can’t go on forever. From this there are two lessons.

How bad has it gotten? In the past two years, the debt limit has grown twice as much as the economy. Can that go on forever? I doubt it very much.

As Niall Ferguson notes, while politicians crow that the deficit has dropped — from super-enormous to merely really, really gigantic — every year that we’re in deficit adds to the debt. And the long-term trends are bad: “A very striking feature of the latest Congressional Budget Office report is how much worse it is than last year’s. A year ago, the CBO’s extended baseline series for the federal debt in public hands projected a figure of 52% of GDP by 2038. That figure has very nearly doubled to 100%. A year ago the debt was supposed to glide down to zero by the 2070s. This year’s long-run projection for 2076 is above 200%. In this devastating reassessment, a crucial role is played here by the more realistic growth assumptions used this year.”

Ah, yes. Growth. We’ve been pretty short of that over the last several years, as businesses — even pro-Obama enterprises such as Google and Apple — park increasing amounts of money overseas, unwilling to be subject not only to high U.S. taxes but, even worse, to the high levels of regulation of which Obamacare is only the most famous.

Read the rest of this entry »


Our Partisan Bureaucracy and the End of the Civil Service

The utopian goal of the civil service was to create something like a professional class of public servants, individuals dedicated to the public good regardless of the party in power — a final break from the spoils system and its attendant rampant corruption and cronyism.

The utopian goal of the civil service was to create something like a professional class of public servants, individuals dedicated to the public good regardless of the party in power — a final break from the spoils system and its attendant rampant corruption and cronyism.

David French writes: It had to happen eventually. The party of government and the government itself would start to merge into one seamless whole — capable of acting on their respective desires without even the necessity of explicit instructions. Kevin Williamson, Michael Walsh, and others sounded this alarm as the IRS scandal unfolded, and we were faced with two unsettling possibilities: Either the political branches of government were so craven they ordered a tea-party crackdown or the bureaucracy was so corrupt it cracked down on its own accord.

Read the rest of this entry »


‘Battle of Yorktown’: Private Restaurant Owner Takes a Stand, Reopens in Defiance of Shutdown Order

The shutdown of Washington has now become the battle of Yorktown.

In the same place where America fought its final battle of independence, one American businessman is refusing to bow to pressure to close up shop during the shutdown.

His story is just one example of what many view as the Obama administration’s widespread overreach during the government gridlock. Read the rest of this entry »


Through the Looking Glass: The Park Police, and the Walls of October

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Ed Driscoll  writes: “The conduct of the National Park Service over the last week might be the biggest scandal of the Obama administration,” Jonathan Last writes at the Weekly Standard, in editorial that begins with President Reagan’s statement that “We are a nation that has a government — not the other way around,” a notion that seems to be receding further into the rearview mirror every day:

The conduct of the National Park Service over the last week might be the biggest scandal of the Obama administration. This is an expansive claim, of course. Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS, the NSA, the HHS mandate​—​this is an administration that has not lacked for appalling abuses of power. And we still have three years to go.

Even so, consider the actions of the National Park Service since the government shutdown began. People first noticed what the NPS was up to when the World War II Memorial on the National Mall was “closed.” Just to be clear, the memorial is an open plaza. There is nothing to operate. Sometimes there might be a ranger standing around. But he’s not collecting tickets or opening gates. Putting up barricades and posting guards to “close” the World War II Memorial takes more resources and manpower than “keeping it open.”

Read the rest of this entry »


President Barack O’Cranky McMeany

It’s within his power to avoid the ludicrous scenes of this “shutdown.”

Unify, lead, and govern a great nation? Or express hatred, burn bridges, plot revenge, settle scores, waste money, and preside over epic national decline?

Unify, lead, and govern a great nation? Or express hatred, burn bridges, plot revenge, settle scores, waste money, and preside over epic national decline? Decline isn’t so bad, as long as Democrats can concentrate more power. 

Charles C. W. Cooke writes: Distilling a theretofore-untamed talking point into a single sentence, The Atlantic’s Abby Olheiser complained somewhat tenuously on Monday that the National Park Service, which has recently been running around the country doing all sorts of unconscionable things in the name of the federal shutdown, “wouldn’t have to become the next iteration of the Benghazi mantra if a bill — which is sitting in the House of Representatives and would fund the government at sequester levels — were brought up for a vote and passed, ensuring that the government, and the parks, would reopen as soon as possible.” This, suffice it to say, is rather obviously true.

It is also wholly irrelevant. Of course the executive branch would be not be playing these games if the shutdown had not happened. In that case, the government octopus would be swimming inexorably forward as it usually does, all of its tentacles intact. The more important point to grasp here is not that the various heavy-handed antics in which the Park Service has seen fit to indulge itself since last Monday are unimaginable absent a shutdown, but that almost none of them had to happen because of the shutdown. The offending behavior has, in other words, been a choice — a deliberate ploy contrived and prosecuted by a man seeking to make a public point. Read the rest of this entry »


PRIORITIES: Feds Try to Close the OCEAN Because of Shutdown

"Okay boys, Ocean duty. If you see any violators, show no mercy"

“Okay boys, Ocean duty. If you see any violators, show no mercy”

MIKE FLYNN reports: Just before the weekend, the National Park Service informed charter boat captains in Florida that the Florida Bay was “closed” due to the shutdown. Until government funding is restored, the fishing boats are prohibited from taking anglers into 1,100 square-miles of open ocean. Fishing is also prohibited at Biscayne National Park during the shutdown.

The Park Service will also have rangers on duty to police the ban… of access to an ocean. The government will probably use more personnel and spend more resources to attempt to close the ocean, than it would in its normal course of business.

This is governing by temper-tantrum. It is on par with the government’s ham-fisted attempts to close the DC WWII Memorial, an open-air public monument that is normally accessible 24 hours a day. By accessible I mean, you walk up to it. When you have finished reflecting, you then walk away from it. Read the rest of this entry »


Just because it’s a phony crisis doesn’t mean it can’t be made even phonier

smugThe always dyspeptic Mark Steyn writes: Way back in January, when it emerged that Beyoncé had treated us to the first ever lip-synched national anthem at a presidential inauguration, I suggested in this space that this strange pseudo-performance embodied the decay of America’s political institutions from the real thing into mere simulacrum. But that applies to government “crises,” too — such as the Obamacare “rollout,” the debt “ceiling,” and the federal “shutdown,” to name only the three current railroad tracks to which the virtuous damsel of Big Government has been simultaneously tied by evil mustache-twirling Republicans.

This week’s “shutdown” of government, for example, suffers (at least for those of us curious to see it reduced to Somali levels) from the awkward fact that the overwhelming majority of the government is not shut down at all. Indeed, much of it cannot be shut down. Which is the real problem facing America. “Mandatory spending” (Social Security, Medicare, et al.) is authorized in perpetuity — or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congress’s so-called federal budget process. That’s why you’re reading government “shutdown” stories about the PandaCam at the Washington Zoo and the First Lady’s ghost-Tweeters being furloughed. Read the rest of this entry »


VIDEO: McDonald’s Employee Admits Being Paid to Protest WW2 Veterans

Patrick Poole writes: Yesterday I reported from the National World War Two Memorial on several members of Congress crashing the barricades set up by the National Park Service that were keeping out several hundred Honor Flight veterans — many of whom were WW2 veterans — from visiting their own memorial. The Park Service claimed that the memorial and the entire National Mall area had to be closed because of the government shutdown.

The same scene was reenacted again today as two Honor Flights from Missouri and Chicago arrived in prearranged visits. These Honor Flights were met by hundreds of ordinary citizens and about a dozen members of Congress, who once again crashed the barricades to let the veterans into the WW2 Memorial.

After about an hour, about 20 protesters arrived on the scene chanting “Boehner, get us back to work” and claiming they were federal employees furloughed because of the shutdown.

In the video below these protesters were marching towards the press gaggle and I was asking them to show their federal IDs to prove they were in fact federal workers. No one wore their federal ID and none would provide it to prove their claim.

Then, remarkably, a guy carrying a sign passed by wearing a McDonald’s employee shirt, which I noted. I then began asking them how much they had been paid to protest, at which point the guy wearing the McDonald’s shirt came back and admitted he had been paid $15. Read the rest of this entry »


Shameless: MLK Memorial Also Barricaded

via Twitter

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American Banana Republic

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The decay of a free society doesn’t happen overnight, but we’re getting there. 

Mark Steyn writes: ‘This is the United States of America,” declared President Obama to the burghers of Liberty, Mo., on Friday. “We’re not some banana republic.”

He was talking about the Annual Raising of the Debt Ceiling, which glorious American tradition seems to come round earlier every year. “This is not a deadbeat nation,” President Obama continued. “We don’t run out on our tab.” True. But we don’t pay it off either. We just keep running it up, ever higher. And every time the bartender says, “Mebbe you’ve had enough, pal,” we protest, “Jush another couple trillion for the road. Set ’em up, Joe.” And he gives you that look that kinda says he wishes you’d run out on your tab back when it was $23.68.

Still, Obama is right. We’re not a banana republic, if only because the debt of banana republics is denominated in a currency other than their own — i.e., the U.S. dollar. When you’re the guys who print the global currency, you can run up debts undreamt of by your average generalissimo. As Obama explained in another of his recent speeches, “Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt.” I won’t even pretend to know what he and his speechwriters meant by that one, but the fact that raising the debt ceiling “has been done over a hundred times” does suggest that spending more than it takes in is now a permanent feature of American government. And no one has plans to do anything about it. Which is certainly banana republic-esque. Read the rest of this entry »


D.C. 9-11 Muslim rally VASTLY outnumbered by Bikers

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Meredith Somers writes: A few dozen demonstrators attending a rally on the Mall once billed as the Million Muslim March were vastly outnumbered Wednesday by a Christian group objecting to their event and a counterprotest consisting of motorcycle riders honoring Sept. 11 victims. Read the rest of this entry »


2 Million Bikers to DC: Motorcycle Riders Roll into Washington

Jacob Davidson writes: A group called the 2 Million Bikers to DC is leading a parade of motorcycles through the nation’s capital today to commemorate 9/11 victims and military veterans. “We’re here for 9-11,” the national ride coordinator Belinda Bee told the Washington Times. Since Tuesday, riders from around the country have been tweeting photos of their journey to Washington (hashtag #2MBikers), with early pictures and videos showing thousands of bikes overflowing out of rest stops and parking lots on their way to the event. A Facebook page devoted to the ride is also being updated with highlights.

If this sounds like the type of event that would never receive approval from the city, you’d be correct. U.S. News reports that the group initially asked for a permit to demonstrate around the National Mall. However, the National Park Service denied the request, saying that such a large gathering of motorcycles would cause “a severe disruption of traffic” and more police than D.C. could provide. Read the rest of this entry »


VIDEO: Bikers entering D.C. to honor 9/11, protest Muslim rally

Thousands of bikers from around the country roared into the D.C. area on Wednesday in a show of support for Sept. 11 victims and in solidarity against a controversial Muslim rally on the Mall. Read the rest of this entry »