Thursday, August 12, 2010
The Obama presidency increasingly resembles a modern-day Ancien Régime: extravagant and out of touch with the American people
What the great French historian Alexis de Tocqueville would make of today’s Obama administration were he alive today is anyone’s guess. But I would wager that the author of L’Ancien Régime and Democracy in America would be less than impressed with the extravagance and arrogance on display among the White House elites that rule America as though they had been handed some divine right to govern with impunity.
It is the kind of impunity that has been highlighted on the world stage this week by Michelle Obama’s hugely costly trip to Spain, which has prompted a New York Post columnist Andrea Tantaros to dub the First Lady a contemporary Marie Antoinette. As The Telegraph reports, while the Obamas are covering their own vacation expenses such as accommodation, the trip may cost US taxpayers as much as $375,000 in terms of secret service security and flight costs on Air Force Two.
The timing of this lavish European vacation could not have come at a worse moment, when unemployment in America stands at 10 percent, and large numbers of Americans are fighting to survive financially in the wake of the global economic downturn. It sends a message of indifference, even contempt, for the millions of Americans who are struggling just to feed their families on a daily basis and pay the mortgage, while the size of the national debt balloons to Greek-style proportions.
While the liberal-dominated US mainstream media have largely ignored the story, it is all over the blogosphere and talk radio, and will undoubtedly add to the President’s free falling poll ratings. As much as the media establishment turn a blind eye to stories like this, which are major news in the international media, the American public is increasingly turning to alternative news sources, including the British press, which has a far less deferential approach towards the White House.
The First Lady’s ill-conceived trip to Marbella and the complete disregard for public opinion and concerns over excessive government spending is symbolic of a far wider problem with the Obama presidency – the overarching disdain for the principles of limited government, individual liberty and free enterprise that have built the United States over the course of nearly two and a half centuries into the most powerful and free nation on earth.
It is epitomised above all by the President’s relentless drive towards big government against the will of the American people, and the dramatic increases in government spending and borrowing, which threaten to leave the US hugely in debt for generations. It is also showcased by Barack Obama’s drive towards a socialised health care system, which, as I’ve noted before, is “a thinly disguised vanity project for a president who is committed to transforming the United States from the world’s most successful large-scale free enterprise economy, to a highly interventionist society with a massive role for centralized government.”
There is however a political revolution fast approaching Washington that is driven not by mob rule but by the power of ideas and principles, based upon the ideals of the Founding Fathers and the US Constitution. It is a distinctly conservative revolution that is sweeping America and is reflected in almost every poll ahead of this November’s mid-terms. It is based on a belief in individual liberty, limited government, and above all, political accountability from the ruling elites. The Obama administration’s mantra may well be “let them eat cake”, as it continues to gorge itself on taxpayers’ money, but it will be looking nervously over its shoulder as public unease mounts.
All socialists now?
A foul and dangerous brew is heating up that is composed of: (1) The economic collapse that started in 2008; (2) the radical, "fundamentally transforming" left-wing agenda of the government; and, (3) the thwarting of the public will -- with glee -- by the entrenched, non-elected powers (in the courts, media, colleges and government bureaucracies) as they get into the face and under the skin of the cultural and political majority.
It is insufferable (and will not long be suffered) to be lectured to and imposed upon by a ruling class that loathes our nation's history, values and accomplishments; by those who are not, in fact, our genuine betters. They are neither better educated nor more profoundly morally versed.
In fact, they are our intellectual and moral inferiors -- not superiors. Constantly grinning Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan didn't think the Declaration of Independence's proclamation that human beings "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" should in any way affect her understanding of our constitutional rights -- presumably, if any.
Part of the building danger derives from the fact that Americans now tend to self-select our news, opinion and entertainment sources based on our political beliefs and cultural and religious preferences. As a result, the nation no longer shares a common database of civic reality. Many liberals have no sense of how deep and roiling this no-longer-just-conservative passion is. Or they assume it involves some small, mendacious, ideological faction rather than a broad-based, nonideological, building national majority, which it does.
Just one trivial example of the disconnection between the elites and the nation was the Newsweek headline "We Are All Socialists Now," published last year (before the magazine was sold for $1 to the billionaire husband of a leading Democratic congresswoman).
Two months ago, though, a poll by the Democracy Corps, a polling group run by Democratic operative James Carville and Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, asked how well the term "socialist" fit President Obama. Fifty-five percent of all Americans said "well" or "very well." In that same month, the Gallup poll reported that Americans self-identify themselves as 42 percent conservative (a historic high), 35 percent moderate and 20 percent liberal. That would seem to leave 3 percent for socialists, communists, anarchists, fascists, monarchists, Nazis, ultramontanists, Falangists, klansmen, etc.)
I guess that Newsweek headline's meaning depends on what the definition of "we" is. As military experts would say, the upcoming struggle for America's future between the socialist powers and the rest of us would seem to be "asymmetrical."
Much more profoundly, the gap between the consciousness of "we socialists" and "we the people" can be seen in the assertion by some liberals recently that the president's collapse in the polls is part of this current reaction to events is but a passing thing. If they think that, they understand nothing of the forces they have unleashed by their tragically imprudent effort to fundamentally transform our country.
By Thomas Sowell
A graduating senior at Hunter College High School in New York gave a speech that brought a standing ovation from his teachers and got his picture in the New York Times. I hope it doesn't go to his head, because what he said was so illogical that it was an indictment of the mush that is being taught at even our elite educational institutions.
Young Justin Hudson, described as "black and Hispanic," opened by saying how much he appreciated reaching his graduation day at this very select public high school. Then he said, "I don't deserve any of this. And neither do you." The reason? He and his classmates were there because of "luck and circumstances."
Since Hunter College High School selects its applicants from the whole city on the basis of their test scores, "luck" seems a strange way to characterize why some students are admitted and many others are not. If you can't tell the difference between luck and performance, what has your education given you, except the rhetoric to conceal your confusion from others and perhaps from yourself?
Young Mr. Hudson's concern, apparently, is about what he referred to as the "demographics" of the school-- 41 percent white and 47 percent Asian, with blacks, Hispanics and others obviously far behind. "I refuse to accept" that "the distribution of intelligence in this city" varies by neighborhood, he said.
Native intelligence may indeed not vary by neighborhood but actual performance-- whether in schools, on the job or elsewhere-- involves far more than native intelligence. Wasted intelligence does nothing for an individual or society.
The reason a surgeon can operate on your heart, while someone of equal intelligence who is not a surgeon cannot, is because of what different people actually did with their intelligence. That has always varied, not only from individual to individual but from group to group-- and not only in this country, but in countries around the world and across the centuries of human history.
One of the biggest fallacies of our time is the notion that, if all groups are not proportionally represented in institutions, professions or income levels, that shows something wrong with society. The very possibility that people make their own choices, and that those choices have consequences-- for themselves and for others-- is ignored. Society is the universal scapegoat.
If "luck" is involved, it is the luck to be born into families and communities whose values and choices turn out to be productive for themselves and for others who benefit from the skills they acquire. Observers who blame tests or other criteria for the demographic imbalances which are the rule-- not the exception-- around the world, are blaming whatever conveys differences for creating those differences. They blame the messenger who brings bad news.
If test scores are not the same for people from different backgrounds, that is no proof that there is something wrong with the tests. Tests do not exist to show what your potential was when you entered the world but to measure what you have actually accomplished since then, as a guide to what you are likely to continue to do in the future. Tests convey a difference that tests did not create. But the messenger gets blamed for the bad news.
Similarly, if prices are higher in high-crime neighborhoods, that is often blamed on those who charge those prices, rather than on those who create the higher costs of higher rates of shoplifting, robbery, vandalism and riots, which are passed on to those who shop in those neighborhoods. The prices convey a reality that the prices did not create. If these prices represent simply "greed" for higher profits, then why do most profit-seeking businesses avoid high-crime neighborhoods like the plague?
It is painful that people with lower incomes often have to pay higher prices, even though most people are not criminals, even in a high-crime neighborhood. But misconstruing the reasons is not going to help anybody, except race hustlers and politicians.
One of the many disservices done to young people by our schools and colleges is giving them the puffed up notion that they are in a position to pass sweeping judgments on a world that they have barely begun to experience. A standing ovation for childish remarks may produce "self-esteem" but promoting presumptuousness is unlikely to benefit either this student or society.
Obama's war on the nutroots: "The White House is sparing no punches to some of its critics on the ‘professional left,’ describing them as insatiable and unrealistic. In an interview with Sam Youngman of The Hill published Tuesday morning, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs unleashed a series of forceful attacks on some unnamed progressive critics of President Barack Obama. ‘I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,’ Gibbs said. ‘I mean, it’s crazy.’ The paper described the president’s spokesman as ’simmering with anger’ and ‘in furious disbelief’ over some of Obama’s liberal detractors, from whom he has faced regular criticism for not pushing a progressive agenda more authoritatively.”
Blood diamonds farce: "State-sanctioned monopolies of any kind inevitably attract armies of bureaucrats, criminals and carpet-baggers. Like the hopelessly ineffective war on drugs, the war on blood diamonds has not only been lost, it is pointless and can never be enforced. Diamonds are small — five carats is equivalent to one gram. You can hide a 20-carat stone in your mouth and walk through pretty much any customs post. Depending on the quality, you can then sell that for perhaps US$50,000 and go home to repeat the cycle. You may not win the Ethics in Business Award, but smugglers don’t play in that league. In reality, bloods diamonds are a giant hoax.”
Haystack: Resistance technology without borders: "Haystack is the baby of Austin Heap, a 20-something hacker who decided — after witnessing the turmoil in Iran following the disputed election — to put his geek skills to work on behalf of that country’s dissident community. Heap was helped enormously in the effort by a disgruntled Iranian government official, who provided considerable technical detail on the functioning of the government’s filtering software. Heap wound up developing desktop software — Haystack — which not only encrypts but disguises connections and outgoing data, so to the government it looks like someone surfing a revolutionary website is visiting some other popular site like The Weather Channel.”
Around the country with overpaid public sector employees: "It’s often a sign that a problem is turning into a crisis when the public outcry over it becomes ubiquitous. That seems to be the case with the stress that government employee compensation is placing on government budgets at all levels, as several news items today indicate.”
The rich now tilt Left: "The wealthy have long occupied an awkward place in liberal politics. Since the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a movement that purports to speak for the common person has occasionally relied on fabulously rich candidates and backers. Yet something new has happened in recent years: The wealthy have become more than episodic allies of the left; they are now central players in progressivism."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 12:20 AM