Something you feel, like encroaching numbness

My intention remains to vote down-ballot only.  I don’t know how to explain my vote to my daughters.

The democrat was such a threat to the Constitutional order that I voted for a vulgar imbecile.”

The republican was such a threat to the Constitutional order that I voted to put a crime boss in the Oval.”

I thought (and still might) Libertarian, but this year their candidate isn’t really that much of a Libertarian.  McMullin isn’t on the ballot in my state.  The Greens are too misanthropic for me (I have other objections too) so they’re not an option.

While I’m not (yet?) convinced by this author’s argument, I think he describes the current mood perfectly.  Yale professor David Gelernter writes Trump and the Emasculated Voter in today’s WSJ:

Mr. Trump’s candidacy is a message from the voters. He is the empty gin bottle they have chosen to toss through the window. The message begins with the fact that voters hear what the leaders and pundits don’t: the profound contempt for America and Americans that Mrs. Clinton and President Obama share and their frightening lack of emotional connection to this nation and its people.

Mr. Obama is arch, patronizing, so magnificently weary of having to explain it all, again and again, to the dummies surrounding him. Mrs. Clinton has told us proudly how thoroughly she prepared for the first debate and has prepared to be president. For her, it is all a matter of learning your lines. Her whole life has been memorized in advance. Mr. Obama is at least sincere. Mrs. Clinton is as phony as a three-dollar bill, as a Clinton Global Initiative.

Mr. Obama has governed like a third-rate tyrant. He’s been a stern baby sitter to an American public that is increasingly getting on his nerves. ObamaCare and the Iran treaty are his big achievements. That the public has always disliked them, and hates them worse as it knows them better, strikes him as so unspeakably irrelevant; he doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Do you ask 6-year-olds if they like going to school? Luckily, a few grown-ups have been set over the public to keep it in line.

Mrs. Clinton couldn’t agree more. Policy is for smart people, who are people of the left by definition—leftists having scored all those big successes over the years in foreign policy, race relations, policing, restarting wounded economies, making unsecured loans, running school systems and so on. On topics from Keystone to Guantanamo, Mr. Obama has made it clear that he doesn’t give a damn what people think—he no longer even tries to explain to the citizenry. Do your homework! Understand?

Yes, leadership sometimes requires that you take an unpopular position and make it popular. We are told that Mr. Obama is working on his “legacy” instead, as if that makes him farsighted instead of irresponsible and insanely vain. Presidents are supposed to run the country, not worry about their reputation in coming centuries.

Trump voters have noticed that, not just over Mr. Obama’s term but in recent decades, their own opinions have grown increasingly irrelevant. It’s something you feel, like encroaching numbness. Since when has the American public endorsed affirmative action? Yet it’s a major factor in the lives of every student and many workers. Since when did we decide that men and women are interchangeable in hand-to-hand combat on the front lines? Why do we insist on women in combat but not in the NFL? Because we take football seriously. That’s no joke; it’s the sad truth.

Did we invite the federal bureaucracy to take charge of school bathrooms? I guess I missed that meeting. The schools are corrupt and the universities rotten to the core, and everyone has known it since the 1980s. But the Democrats are owned by the teachers unions, and Republicans have made only small-scale corrections to a system that needs to be ripped out and carefully disposed of, like poison ivy.

The Emasculated Voter to whom no one pays any attention is the story of modern democracy. Instead of putting voters in charge, we tell them they’re in charge, and it’s just as good. That’s the Establishment’s great discovery in the Lois Lerner Age.




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Complexity is a subsidy

More from this week’s G-file, this time on the subject of our crumbling faith in our institutions:

Complexity is a subsidy. The more complex you make the rules, the more you reward people with the cognitive, material, or social resources necessary to get around them. Big corporations tend not to object to more burdensome regulations because they can afford to comply with them…

But you’ve been hearing this stuff from me for years. Let’s get back to the arrogance thing. It seems to me a big part of the problem with progressive elites these days is that they lack self-awareness. That elites arrange affairs for their own self-interest is an insight that was already ancient when Robert Michels penned his Iron Law of Oligarchy. But ever since the progressives concocted their theories of “disinterestedness,” they’ve convinced themselves that they are not in fact a self-serving elite. Give feudal aristocrats their due: They were a self-dealing crop of rent-seekers and exploiters, but at least they were open about the fact that they believed they had a divine right to sit atop the social pyramid. Today’s progressive aristocracy is largely blind to the fact that their cult of expertise isn’t really about expertise; it’s about organizing society in a way that reinforces their status and power.

Well, most of them are blind to it. Occasionally the mask slips. Jonathan Gruber, one of the chief architects and financial beneficiaries of the health-care “reform,” told audiences that Obamacare was designed “in a tortured way” to hide the fact that “healthy people pay in and sick people get money.” They had to do it this way to get around the inconvenient “stupidity of the American voter.” A feudal lord who talked this way about his serfs wouldn’t get any grief for it. But in America such honesty gets you rendered an un-person.


This is a much larger phenomenon than health-care policy. It manifests itself throughout the media and the New Class generally…

I’ve written about the media’s cry-wolf problem before. The relevance here is that I don’t think most of the reporters and editors who carried water for every Democratic presidential candidate for the last 50 years believe that’s what they were doing. They convinced themselves that they were being objective or “disinterested.” They served as praetorian guards for the progressive elite without understanding just how many buckets of water they schlepped up from the river bank. This is why I shed so few tears for the dying of the myth of the “objective media.” Partisan newspapers are as old as newspapers. What was new — and now dying — is this warmed over Lippmannesque B.S. that there’s some kind of science to journalism that immunizes it from partisanship. At least 19th-century newspapers were honest with their readers about where they were coming from. Newspapers like the New York Times suffer from the same delusions that blind the progressive elites generally. They think they’re just telling the hard truths, when in fact they are telling the truths (and occasional lies) that support their own self-serving narrative.

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They had to be heroes and their opponents villains

From this week’s G-File, The Consequences of Overpromising on Obamacare:

It’s difficult to exaggerate how arrogant supporters of Obamacare were back in 2009–10. Imagine trying to exaggerate the heat of the sun to the point where people would say, “Look, I know the sun is hot. But come on, it’s not that hot.” It’s the same thing with the arrogance of Obamacare pushers. The English language simply doesn’t provide the adjectives required to overstate the smugness of the Smart Set during the fights over the Affordable Care Act. It wasn’t just that they knew they were right, they acted as if critics were flat-earthers, birthers, know-nothings, cranks, weirdos, and maroons. This was necessary because the “reformers” were the protagonists in our MacGuffinized political discourse. They had to be heroes and their opponents villains.

Obamacare was going to extend life-expectancies, save money, wildly expand the number of people getting insurance coverage, improve health care generally, lower premium costs, help small business become more competitive, bring back Firefly, restore Shoeless Joe Jackson’s reputation, transform pizza and beer into carb-free fare, and make Bill Clinton’s mysterious cold sore disappear. Okay, I made up those last few. But they were just as unlikely to come to pass.

I will admit, I was premature in my Obamacare grave dance in 2013 when I wrote this, uh, rhetorically excessive gloat-o-rama. I read too much into the fact that President Obama had hired the finest computer programmers the Amish community has ever produced to design the Obamacare website. It turned out that the lethal internal contradictions of Obamacare needed more time to play themselves out, like a man stabbed with a Strontium-90 tipped umbrella or a victim of the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique

But at least those obstreperous elderly nuns will have to pay for birth control!

No, Obamacare will not collapse imminently — or maybe not even ever. But that is not because it is “working” as a public policy. Countries around the world have carried the husk of their far more socialized health-care systems for generations. Rent control, the minimum wage, and countless other economically ridiculous policies endure because they satisfy the political needs of politicians, bureaucrats, and a whole phylum of remora-like rent-seekers. That’s why Milton Friedman said, “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” He should know, given how it was basically his idea to implement tax-withholding from paychecks as a wartime measure

You might say that these programs also help real people too. And that is true. But wealth distribution efforts always help someone. And those someones become vested interests who demand perpetuation of the status quo. If the federal government implemented a program to give every left-handed person in the country $20,000 a year free and clear (no doubt to compensate for the fact that such people are witches), you can be sure the Left Handed Association of America would work assiduously to protect their entitlement.

The VA health-care system is a moral outrage, but it resists actual reform because the interests of the VA bureaucracy and their associated allies are more important than the interests of vets in need of quality health care.

So it may be with Obamacare. For political and psychological reasons, liberals are invested in the idea that Obamacare is working. To the extent they are willing to concede it has problems, they are problems that can only be remedied by giving the government more power and control. Indeed, for many supporters, like Barney Frank, Obamacare was always supposed to be a stepping stone to single-payer health care. This is the essence of modern progressivism, the ratchet can only turn in one direction — towards more power and control for the people in charge.

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Obamacare delenda est

h/t Ramesh Ponnuru in The Public Option: An Obamacare Fix That Won’t Fix Anything

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Echoes of Woodrow Wilson’s failures

It is said that the League of Nations and the “14 points” were undone by the president’s priggish stubbornness and condescension.

Charles Krauthammer writes that with just four months left in the Obama administration, “His signature domestic legislation and his foreign policy of preening disengagement are both coming apart at the seams.”

As predicted by just about every objective observer at the time: the Obamacare death spiral.

Young people, refusing to pay disproportionately to subsidize older and sicker patients, are not signing up. As the risk pool becomes increasingly unbalanced, the death spiral accelerates. And the only way to save the system is with massive infusions of tax money. What to do? The Democrats will eventually push to junk Obamacare for a full-fledged, government-run, single-payer system. Republicans will seek to junk it for a more market-based pre-Obamacare-like alternative. Either way, the singular domestic achievement of this presidency dies.

Also predicted, to those who urged we retire the Pax Americana and empower inept & corrupt global institutions.

“What is Aleppo?” famously asked Gary Johnson. Answer: the burial ground of the Obama fantasy of benign disengagement.

The Nobel committee should be especially proud.

One question that lingers seven years later: What did the Nobel Committee imagine would follow when America assumed an unexceptional role on the world stage? In the U.S., some thought American retrenchment might spur Europeans to finally take responsibility for securing the Continent’s peripheries. This wasn’t an unreasonable assumption, but it proved wrong. Europeans remain as parochial as ever.

The Nobel Committee, and the intellectual class whose preferences it reflected, had loftier ideas. In 2009 they thought that, without U.S. “unilateralism,” the world could settle enmity and evil the same way the EU resolves disputes over agricultural subsidies. This was when EU boosters like the historian Tony Judt still wrote of the 21st century as a European century—when the rest of the world would embrace the European way of dialogue.

Seven years later the Europeans can barely solve their subsidy disputes, and the Continent has had quite enough of the philosopher-president.

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Slaves to narrative are fugitives from reason

Andrew C. McCarthy writes

The supplanting of fact by “narrative” — in race relations, in our politics, in our assessment of national-security threats, in our foreign policy — has become such a fad that we are at the mindless point of skipping past what it portends.

It is all well and good — even necessary — to find thematic ways to express truth, to teach its lessons. “All that glitters is not gold,” for example, is a theme, not a narrative. It is a transcendent bit of fact-based wisdom that allows us to navigate the world as we actually experience it.

A narrative, to the contrary, is an excuse for avoiding reality and acting against our best interests.

It is this way with every totalitarian ideology. We’d be foolish to assume it can’t happen to us. Slaves to narrative are fugitives from reason. Their societies die.

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How to get away with privilege

VDH explains how to get away with privilege:

In our atheistic and agnostic society, inexpensive, loud, and public virtue-mongering has replaced church penance — with Black Lives Matter, La Raza, Al Sharpton, network anchor people, NPR, the New York Times, and such acting as the new bishops who can dispense exemptions. The wealthy, the influential, the intelligentsia, and the cultural elite all broadcast their virtues — usually at a cut-rate rhetorical price — to offset their own sense of sin (as defined by feelings of guilt), or in fear that their own lives are antithetical to the ideologies they espouse, or sometimes simply as a wise career move. Sin these days is mostly defined as race/class/gender thought crimes.

Wearing a mask of virtue is done not to save one’s soul for eternity but to still feel good about enjoying privilege. The sneakers, jeans, and T-shirts or mafia-black outfits of Silicon Valley billionaires can compensate for their robber-baron sins of outsourcing, offshoring, and tax avoidance or simply their preference for apartheid existence with the fellow rich; for George Soros (currency manipulator and European financial outlaw), it is funding leftists who hate capitalists and rank financial speculators like him. All that beats lashings and haircloth.

What enrages the public about virtue-mongering is that, according to the laws of their own value system, the elite sin and then fob such failings off on others to find resolution. Kaepernick makes more in a month than most Americans whom he insults will make in a lifetime; and most Americans have never used the N-word to slur someone of color. Most Americans do not get rich off overseas coal plants like the green Tom Steyer did, or dump worthless cable channels to the Islamist and anti-Semitic Al Jazeera in order to get rich from carbon-exporting Qatar, in the fashion of the global-sermonizing Al Gore. None of us in the manner of the Clintons have boarded a Lolita Express jet or tried to peddle diplomatic passports to the wealthy and connected. I have never met an American who bought up all the homes surrounding his own to redefine his neighborhood as did Mark Zuckerberg, who derides walls and border enforcement for others. And yet we are lectured about our social-awareness failings ad nauseam by these masters of the progressive universe.

The Reformation — and Counter Reformation — mostly ended the selling of penances. Only something similar will end our pathetic version, perhaps when the public tunes out at the tired boilerplate of “racist,” “sexist,” and “nativist”; or when we quit sending money to the “safe space,” “trigger warning,” “micro-aggression” Ivy League; or we flip the channel when NFL gladiators playact as robed philosophers; or we laugh off celebrity activists as the new John D. Rockefellers tossing out a few of their shiny new dimes.

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