Its first editor was Herbert Croly, whose 1909 book “The Promise of American Life” — Theodore Roosevelt read it, rapturously, during his post-presidential travels — is progressivism’s primer: “The average American individual is morally and intellectually inadequate to a serious and consistent conception of his responsibilities as a democrat,” so national life should be a “school.” “The exigencies of such schooling frequently demand severe coercive measures, but what schooling does not?” And “a people are saved many costly perversions” if “the official schoolmasters are wise, and the pupils neither truant nor insubordinate.”
“That’s got to change to serve the president better, because right now the communications shop is ill-serving him.”
Disclosure: I had a phone conversation with Lanny Davis during the Clinton years. He was interested in a portrait I’d done of him in the New Republic, and sweet-talked me into giving it to him for next to nothing. I found Mr. Davis to be a disarming, self-deprecating, gently persuasive operator. Davis was viewed by the press at that time, as a ‘master of spin’. He’s well-positioned to make these observations, and I’m sure it gives him no pleasure to see a Democrat in the oval office being ill-served by communications director Dan Pfeiffer.
“It’s the cynical spin that I hear from the White House communications shop rather than constructive, outreach, high-level the way the way the president deserves.”
The strategy of the White House communications wing of “always demonizing the opposition” is not only damaging to the national discourse, but ultimately for President Obama as well, says Democratic adviser and strategist Lanny Davis…(read more)
Liberals are increasingly religious about their own liberalism, treating it like a comprehensive view of reality and the human good
Before we begin, a little housekeeping is in order. Acting on judgement that defies logic, Damon Linker elects to insert “Paul Krugman” as the seventh and eighth words in the following essay–and then, stranger still, leaves them there, thinking it’s a good way to open his article, having bypassed what I assume were multiple chances to change his mind in the editing process. Revealing that he thinks Krugman is relevant, for some reason. Almost killing any chance a non-New-York-Times-reading liberal reader will want to proceed any further.
Or if they do make it to the second paragraph, taking anything in the article seriously. If Linker had buried that digression in the middle of the essay, it might have been easer to charitably overlook.
Funny how that works. By trying to avoid “sounding like Paul Krugman”, Linker succeeds in planting a poisoned seed right at the beginning–and he succeeds in doing what he claimed he wanted to avoid—sounding like Paul Krugman. Is this a good thing? I think not!
On the other hand, it might work as a test of his material. It reminds me of a method comedian Louis C.K. described for making sure his material is good. If the audience is in a good mood, giving away laughter too early, too easy, he starts the show by insulting the audience, making them unhappy, right off the bat. Bam. Discomfort. Uncertainty. Then, he knows that if they laugh at his jokes after that, the material must be good. As Louis C.K. concludes, “Okay, now we can get to work”.
So, if you can make it past words seven and eight (or the multitude of times you had to read Krugman’s name in my own annoyingly-long prologue, then you’re medically inoculated!) because the title sounded promising, you’ll find it’s actually a very good article. And it was worth making it past that lapse in judgement, and my unseemly introduction. Read on!
At the risk of sounding like Paul Krugman — who returns to a handful of cherished topics over and over again in his New York Times column — I want to revisit one of my hobby horses, which I most recently raised in my discussion of Hobby Lobby.
My own cherished topic is this: Liberalism’s decline from a political philosophy of pluralism into a rigidly intolerant dogma.
The decline is especially pronounced on a range of issues wrapped up with religion and sex. For a time, electoral self-interest kept these intolerant tendencies in check, since the strongly liberal position on social issues was clearly a minority view. But the cultural shift during the Obama years that has led a majority of Americans to support gay marriage seems to have opened the floodgates to an ugly triumphalism on the left.
The result is a dogmatic form of liberalism that threatens to poison American civic life for the foreseeable future. Conservative Reihan Salam describes it, only somewhat hyperbolically, as a form of “weaponized secularism.”
The rise of dogmatic liberalism is the American left-wing expression of the broader trend that Mark Lilla identified in a recent blockbuster essay for The New Republic. The reigning dogma of our time, according to Lilla, is libertarianism — by which he means far more than the anti-tax, anti-regulation ideology that Americans identify with the post-Reagan Republican Party, and that the rest of the world calls “neoliberalism.”
At its deepest level, libertarianism is “a mentality, a mood, a presumption… a prejudice” in favor of the liberation of the autonomous individual from all constraints originating from received habits, traditions, authorities, or institutions. Libertarianism in this sense fuels the American right’s anti-government furies, but it also animates the left’s push for same-sex marriage — and has prepared the way for its stunningly rapid acceptance — in countries throughout the West. Read the rest of this entry »
“Cognitive dissonance or not, Das Kapital has so thoroughly permeated our understanding of capitalism that we’re seldom even aware that we are citing it. It’s become a kind of cultural white noise – always present, but rarely acknowledged.”
Considering that The Onion is post-college humor, it’s not surprising in the least, as universities inoculate students with Marxist dogma. It’s as natural to typical college students as term papers, speech codes, censorship, conformist ‘protests’ (of approved targets) spring break customs, cheating on tests, screwing, drinking beer, and nearly worthless degrees that lead to low-paying jobs and moving back in with their parents. The New Republic‘s admiring, fawning, pro-communist praise of the Onion is, for better or worse, fairly accurate.
William Bigelow writes:
Noting pieces such as “Man Briefly Forgets Hotel Staff Are Not Human” as a reminder of “capitalist commodification not just of goods, but of humans’ subjective agency in the form of labor,” “Laid Off Man Finally Achieves Perfect Work-Life Balance” as espousing “the contention that capitalism alienates the proletariat from their species-consciousness by making them participants without control in the economic relations of their culture,” “Majority of Office’s Supplies Used to Apply for Different Job” as a “clear indictment of false consciousness, arising inexorably from bourgeois dogma as it perverts our very understanding of fulfillment, family, and success…”
Comparing professional football to boxing and smoking, President Barack Obama said that if he had a son he would not let him play pro football because of the risk of concussions. Last year, Obama said that he would have to think “long and hard” before he would let his son play football.
“I would not let my son play pro football,” Obama told the New Yorker in a lengthy piece that was published on Sunday. “But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm.”
Obama then compared playing professional football to smoking.
“…the so-called civil war among conservatives is vastly overblown and promoted mostly by liberal and the mainstream media [because] they want to see the divisions exacerbated.”
Today’s Daily Hammer: Politico’s article “Krauthammer on Krauthammer” tells us less–considering its length–than I hoped. But that may only be true for the over-saturated news junkies among us, already exposed to much of this material. What is original here I believe, are the quotes from various players. Confirmed in these quotes: Krauthammer is widely admired and respected, by allies and opponents alike. Almost universally so. (I have my own list of disagreements, but they’re usually minor)
One comical exception stands out (not counting fellow conservatives who have a legitimate beef with Charles, like Limbaugh and Levin) The NYT’s insulated Queen of Clueless, Paul Krugman. Krugman’s quote is juvenile, petulant, condescending. He couldn’t be bothered. It’s an embarrassing comment, unintentionally revealing. I highlighted it. So, from last week’s Politico, enjoy today’s edition of The Daily Hammer:
Charles Krauthammer was surprised when President Barack Obama invited him to the White House last month.
Since Obama took office, the columnist and Fox News contributor has been among the most forceful critics of the president’s policies. Krauthammer’s long been widely read among conservatives, but has recently raised his prominence with unrelenting and searing attacks on the president’s health care plan, proclaiming earlier this month that the “unraveling” of Obamacare, the administration, and the Democratic Senate majority could amount to nothing less than “the collapse of American liberalism.”
With Obama’s approval rating at an all-time low, and the Republican establishment at odds with the conservative base, Krauthammer had become more than “critic in chief.” Blending high-mindedness with strong conservative values, he has commanded respect on both the extreme and moderate sides of the spectrum, becoming the closest thing the factionalized GOP could have to a spokesperson, a de facto opposition leader for the thinking right.
More proof that federal government programs are least effective
As I’ve written here before, there are two Americas: One that works, produces value, and overcomes problems, and one that for the most part doesn’t work, consumes wealth, and produces more problems than it solves.
The America that doesn’t work was very much in evidence this past week, as the Obamacare roll out continued to be — in Democratic Sen. Max Baucus’ memorable phrase — a “train wreck.” Writing in The New Republic, John Judis observed that the Obamacare fiasco should make fans of activist government angry, because it will damage big government’s brand for decades to come. Well, if you support big government because you think that politicians are more competent or honest than the rest of us, yes, it’s a big bummer. Then again, if you really think so highly of politicians, you have more serious problems than that.
But while the biggest big-government project in a generation was stinking up the place last week, the America that works was doing considerably better. Although “energy independence” has been an official government policy for four decades, we’re on the way to achieve that more in spite of, than because of, the federal government. Read the rest of this entry »
Today the magazine, whose birth was partly financed by a progressive heiress, Dorothy Payne Whitney, is owned by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. Warren, a scourge of (other) economic royalists and especially of large financial institutions, is a William Jennings Bryan for our time: She has risen from among Harvard’s downtrodden to proclaim: “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of derivatives.”
Before she sank to a senator’s salary, she was among the 1 percenters, whose annual incomes now begin at $394,000. Hillary Clinton recently made more than that from two speeches, five days apart, for Goldman Sachs, a prowling Wall Street carnivore that Warren presumably wants to domesticate. Between Warren, hot in pursuit of malefactors of great wealth, and Clinton, hot in pursuit of great wealth, which candidate would be more fun for the kind of people who compose the Democrats’ nominating electorate?