Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The left never stops pushing. There's always a new cause that must be pushed, and the ratchet only turns one way. That's how gay rights became transgender rights. That's how access to abortion became free abortions. John Stossel has noticed to, and he points out that some people have finally had enough.

Rule-makers always want more. At first, they just asked for bans on TV's cigarette ads. Then they demanded no-smoking sections in restaurants. Then bans in airplanes, schools, workplaces, entire restaurants. Then bars, too. Now sometimes even apartments and outdoor spaces.

Can't smokers have some places?

So far, smokers just ... take it. But maybe that's changing. The town of Westminster, Massachusetts, recently held hearings on whether to ban the sale of tobacco products altogether, and 500 angry people showed up.

Joseph Bottum notes that Jon Gruber (the economist who created Obamacare) and Matt Taylor (the rocket scientist who landed a robot on a comet) essentially committed the same faux pas:

Gruber and Taylor - Jonathan and Matt. They're blood brothers, in their way, joined by their place in the current news cycle. Joined by more than that, in fact, for they both made the same mistake. They both thoughtlessly assumed that behaviors that were risk-free in their small social groups would be risk-free in the larger culture. They both mistook the manners of the tribe for the manners of the nation. [. . .]

They both took behavior that is thought acceptable and even admirably daring within their particular subgroups and found that it doesn't play so well on a larger public stage. In Taylor's case, that's the geeky world of rocket scientists and science-fiction devotees, where it's hip - among those not typically known for their hipness - to make knowing references back to the bullet-breasted heroines in tight costumes who graced the covers of 1950s sci-fi pulp. Taylor's shirt is the kind that would have gotten a cheer at the monthly programmers' club meeting in Palo Alto.

In Gruber's case, the subgroup is powerful professors. Professors, that is to say, who've been let in on some important business or government project and return home to tell their fellow academics all about it. Watch any of the Gruber videos, and you'll see it right away. What the man is trying to tell his audiences in these mostly college settings is that he's an insider. He's seen how the sausage is made, and he's returned home to confirm his friends' suspicions about how comic, duplicitous, and bizarre are the inner workings of government. Of course, he's also seeking the admiration of his fellow academics. The subtext of his performances is that, just as we scholars always suspected, the American political system can be gamed and beaten by us smart professors (especially admirable, cynical me). Gruber is a hipster, among those not typically known for their hipness, and he wowed 'em at the faculty club.

Charles C.W. Cooke visits Canada's oil sands production facilities, and he is impressed by the operation. But not so much by the protestors:

In the hotel's bar on my final evening, I meet two environmentalist girls who are having dinner with the NBC TV crew. We strike up a conversation. Their lexicon is replete with insistent and earnest calls for "renewable energy" and for doing "something different." We must have a "conversation," they say. The "public must get involved!" One of them repeatedly insists that there needs to be a "compromise." I suggest that this "compromise" is precisely what has happened here: The province of Alberta allows private companies to operate within very strict guidelines and, if they break the rules, they lose their license to manufacture. She doesn't push back against this directly, but she is "worried" that oil production still has its "drawbacks." I agree in principle. After all, what doesn't? But I'm struck by the thought that she's striving for an impossible perfection and has chosen the wrong target.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dispatch From the Religion of Peace

We haven't had one of these dispatches in quite some time. Not because the Religion of Peace has slowed down, rather quite the opposite. The violence in the name of the RoP is so unrelenting, dispatches would simply be a reiteration of the daily news. Beheadings, bombings and general mayhem in the name of Islam are simply a matter of course these days. Still, this story seemed worthy of note:

Four Israelis were killed and eight more wounded in a frenzied assault by two Palestinian men on Jewish worshippers praying at a Jerusalem synagogue in the most lethal incident in the city in years.

The two assailants who launched their attack with meat cleavers and a gun during early morning prayers were then killed by police officers in the ensuing gun battle at the scene of the attack.

Meat cleavers. Meat cleavers! In a synagogue. CNN's report had it this way: "DEADLY ATTACK ON JERUSALEM MOSQUE." Meanwhile, the good people of Gaza reacted with predictable outrage at their co-religionists:

Gazan revelers in Rafah handed out sweets and brandished axes and posters of the said perpetrators in praise of the deadly attack.

David French: Modern feminism is appalling stupidity backed by hysterical rage.

While I had numerous brushes with extremist feminists in law school - women who declared that all (heterosexual) sex was rape and often responded with literal screams to classroom speech they didn't like - it all felt fashionably fake. Surely no one took that level of extremism into the real world, did they? Then my wife encountered a lesbian couple in Ithaca, N.Y., who was raising their child to be "genderless." They refused to call him a boy or girl, allowing him to "choose his gender" identity during his teenage years. And, apparently, they are not alone.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

With this Gruber character (can we please stop calling him an "architect"?) running around extolling the lies he perpetrated on the "stupid" American populace in pursuit of his health insurance law, David French adds a little perspective.

Obamacare was so expansive, so unpopular, and so outside the perceived will of the voters, that Gruber and his administration allies felt that they had to intentionally confuse and deceive the American people to pass health care reform through a Democrat-dominated Congress. [. . .]

They knew that if they wrote a law in plain English that even their Democratic allies in Congress would reject it. They knew that if they explained the true effects of the law - including the existence of very real trade-offs - that not even a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate could save them. [. . .]

Mr. French goes on to note that a lot of smaller reforms could have been achieved in a bi-partisan fashion, because Republicans had just been squashed in the election and were looking for opportunities to compromise. But the President was far more ambitious:

(A)id for the poor and near-poor wasn't enough. It had to increase access to abortion. It had to turn employee health plans into the next front of the culture war. It had to give the IRS an even greater degree of access to Americans' private lives. It had to increase regulatory authority over myriad aspects of American health care. It had to engage in stealth redistribution of wealth.

While the truly partisan pundits are unfazed by Gruber's compulsive truth-telling, will the allegedly more mainstream media revise its own history of the Obama presidency? Is the problem with Obamacare truly Republican "obstructionism," or is it administration deception - featuring a willingness to deliberately make the provision of American health care needlessly complex to accomplish hyper-partisan ideological goals?

How bad was Obamacare? So bad it couldn't even pass through a Democratic supermajority on its own merits.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Daniel Greenfield says there is a Democratic Party civil war getting ready to erupt. The two factions are the old-time traditional corruptocrats and the progressive true-believer leftists.

Sometimes the two Democratic parties blend together really well. Bill Clinton combined the good ol' boy corruption and radical leftist politics of both parties into one package. The secret to his success was that he understood that most Democrats, voters or politicians, didn't care about his politics, they wanted more practical things. He made sure that his leftist radicalism played second fiddle to their corruption.

Bill Clinton convinced old Dems that he was their man first. Obama stopped pretending to be anything but a hard core progressive.

The 2014 election was a collision course between the two Democratic parties. The aides and staffers spilling dirt into the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post and Politico reveal that the crackup had been coming for some time now. Now the two Democratic parties are coming apart.

It seems the family of "Gentle Giant" Michael Brown is getting a little contentious out there in Ferguson, Missouri. This snit is over the sale of commemorative merchandise:

Police in Ferguson, Mo., are investigating a fight between members of the family of Michael Brown which allegedly erupted over the sale of merchandise last month.

Pearlie Gordon, Michael Brown Sr.'s mother-in-law, told police that she was selling "Justice for Mike Brown" items in a parking lot Oct. 18 when a group of about 20 to 30 people rushed toward her, according to an incident report. Gordon said that Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, told her that she couldn't sell the merchandise.

Gordon then told McSpadden that "unless McSpadden could produce documentation stating she had a patent on her son's name, she (Gordon) was going to continue to sell her merchandise," the report states.

That's when McSpadden's mother started to rip down items from the booth. Gordon told police she was hit on the head and knocked to the ground. She said McSpadden punched her during the incident, in which more than $1,500 in merchandise and at least $400 in cash was stolen.

900 vintage video games are online at The Internet Arcade.
Newly inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame: Green Army Men. Who even knew there was a "toy hall of fame?"

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Kevin Williamson thinks increasing energy production is the way to get our economy back on track:

The energy industry itself is a generator of enormous wealth, and it pays very good wages for everybody from Ph.D.s to truck drivers. But it is the ripple effect that makes it so important: More abundant energy means that everything that moves by road, rail, or air - i.e., basically everything - is a bit less expensive, that all of our factories are a bit more efficient, that everything made with plastics and petrochemicals - i.e., basically all manufactured goods - is a little more affordable. Those marginal changes can add up to something dramatic in an economy as complex and globally integrated as ours, because it makes the entire economy more efficient. And even with the stepped-up production of the past several years, petroleum imports alone still amount to more than half of the U.S. trade deficit - not Korean electronics and cheap plastic toys from China, but stuff we have in the ground in Pennsylvania and Texas and New York and California. Basically, we're standing knee-deep in a pile of money, waiting for government's permission to pick it up. You might not change Andrew Cuomo's mind about that - or Jerry Brown's, speaking of 1970s flashbacks - but when it comes to the millions of Americans who are not much enjoying the relative growth rates of their paychecks and their utility bills, Republicans have a pretty solid argument to make for energy abundance.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Here's an interesting piece on the nature of today's "Feminism" and how truly unserious it is:

Modern feminism is defined by talking non-stop about the things that don't matter to avoid talking about the things that do. It long ago stopped being a movement and became a series of distractions. When feminists actually hit on a relevant issue they quickly scramble to avoid talking about it. That's what happened with the viral Hollaback video of a woman walking around New York City and being harassed by minority men. The video quickly went from a hit to an embarrassment as feminists realized that they had unintentionally documented something that they could not talk about. [. . .]

Professional feminists don't want to fight rape; they want to fight an intangible "rape culture". They don't want to help women. Instead they want to exploit the problems facing women to advance their own agendas and careers. They are part of a movement cut off from ordinary people and rooted in academia. Few women want to identify as feminists, because feminism doesn't identify with them.

Feminism can't talk about the problems facing women because it is a prisoner of the left. It's a fundraising gimmick, an election turnout gimmick and a way to sell pricey shirts.

The whole thing is worth a read.

Jay Nordlinger reports on Gary Kasparov's speech at the Oslo Freedom Forum:

Garry Kasparov, the chess great and democracy activist, is onstage. He is a physically robust and quick-moving fellow. You think the mind is quick, too?

Kasparov says, "Putin has engaged with and co-opted the West." Also, "we have more leverage than we think." "We"? Kasparov means democrats and well-wishers to democracy.

He says that Russia exports more than 80 percent of its oil and gas to the EU. And just a third of the EU's oil and gas comes from Russia. So who has the leverage? "Sellers need buyers," notes Kasparov.

He further says, "The Free World must break all forms of dependency on dictatorships. Engagement has failed." The Free World "holds many winning cards in this game of global poker." Yet "we fold our hands when Putin bluffs."

Kasparov wants people to wake up, it seems to me.

He cites this frequent caution: "Putin is too dangerous to challenge." Then he points out that, when President Truman launched the Berlin airlift, Stalin was in the Kremlin! He also brings up the Cuban Missile Crisis and KAL 007.

"It's all about us," he says. "Do we have the political will? The courage? Too many of us have forgotten how to fight dictatorships."

He gives a stirring speech, Kasparov does.

I wish Mr. Kasparov could give that talk in the Oval Office. Continuing with another post from the effusive Mr. Nordlinger, this time on Arkansas Senator-Elect Tom Cotton:

He was expected to win in Arkansas. But that should not dim the joy of it, for the likes of me: He is one of the most impressive people in American politics. He is an officer and a gentleman, and an intellectual. He also turns out to be an adept politician. He should be a superb representative of Reagan-style Republicanism for years to come.

Covering his race for the House two years ago, I met a woman at a Cotton luncheon. She said to me, "He's perfect." I later related this to Cotton's mother - who said, "No, he isn't."

He is still awfully good, and his election to the Senate is wonderful.

Finally, Nordlinger yet again:

In Maine, Governor Paul LePage was reelected. He may be the most interesting politician in America. He may also be the most unusual. He is fantastically blunt. He is almost anti-political, in his bluntness, his political incorrectness. He was born in the mill town of Lewiston in 1948. His family was Franco-American. Paul did not really speak English until he was in college. He was the first of 18 children. His father was a mill worker and a drunk. A violent drunk. He beat Paul so bad, the boy left home at the age of eleven. He lived in the streets for two years - seeking shelter here and there. He saw everything, at that tender age. Finally, a couple of families sort of looked after him. And he rose. He became a success in business and politics. He and his wife adopted a black kid from Jamaica.

Ladies and gentlemen, if Paul LePage were a liberal Democrat, he'd be celebrated across the country. He would be on the covers of magazines, and there would be movies about him. His story would be sung in folk songs. But he's a conservative Republican. So . . .