Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Truly Great Phony

Thomas Sowell

Many years ago, I was a member of a committee that was recommending to whom grant money should be awarded. Since I knew one of the applicants, I asked if this meant that I should recuse myself from voting on his application.  "No," the chairman said. "I know him too -- and he is one of the truly great phonies of our time."

The man was indeed a very talented phony. He could convince almost anybody of almost anything -- provided that they were not already knowledgeable about the subject.

He had once spoken to me very authoritatively about Marxian economics, apparently unaware that I was one of the few people who had read all three volumes of Marx's "Capital," and had published articles on Marxian economics in scholarly journals.

What our glib talker was saying might have seemed impressive to someone who had never read "Capital," as most people have not. But it was complete nonsense to me.

Incidentally, he did not get the grant he applied for.

This episode came back to me recently, as I read an incisive column by Charles Krauthammer, citing some of the many gaffes in public statements by the President of the United States.

One presidential gaffe in particular gives the flavor, and suggests the reason, for many others. It involved the Falkland Islands.

Argentina has recently been demanding that Britain return the Falkland Islands, which have been occupied by Britons for nearly two centuries. In 1982, Argentina seized these islands by force, only to have British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher take the islands back by force.

With Argentina today beset by domestic problems, demanding the return of the Falklands is once again a way for Argentina's government to distract the Argentine public's attention from the country's economic and other woes.

Because the Argentines call these islands "the Malvinas," rather than "the Falklands," Barack Obama decided to use the Argentine term. But he referred to them as "the Maldives."

It so happens that the Maldives are thousands of miles away from the Malvinas. The former are in the Indian Ocean, while the latter are in the South Atlantic.

Nor is this the only gross misstatement that President Obama has gotten away with, thanks to the mainstream media, which sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil when it comes to Obama.

The presidential gaffe that struck me when I heard it was Barack Obama's reference to a military corps as a military "corpse." He is obviously a man who is used to sounding off about things he has paid little or no attention to in the past. His mispronunciation of a common military term was especially revealing to someone who was once in the Marine Corps, not Marine "corpse."

Like other truly talented phonies, Barack Obama concentrates his skills on the effect of his words on other people -- most of whom do not have the time to become knowledgeable about the things he is talking about. Whether what he says bears any relationship to the facts is politically irrelevant.

A talented con man, or a slick politician, does not waste his time trying to convince knowledgeable skeptics. His job is to keep the true believers believing. He is not going to convince the others anyway.

Back during Barack Obama's first year in office, he kept repeating, with great apparent earnestness, that there were "shovel-ready" projects that would quickly provide many much-needed jobs, if only his spending plans were approved by Congress.

He seemed very convincing -- if you didn't know how long it can take for any construction project to get started, after going through a bureaucratic maze of environmental impact studies, zoning commission rulings and other procedures that can delay even the smallest and simplest project for years.

Only about a year or so after his big spending programs were approved by Congress, Barack Obama himself laughed at how slowly everything was going on his supposedly "shovel-ready" projects.

One wonders how he will laugh when all his golden promises about ObamaCare turn out to be false and a medical disaster. Or when his foreign policy fiascoes in the Middle East are climaxed by a nuclear Iran.



15 Moronic Things Liberals Call Racism Since Obama Was Elected

Bizarrely, racism in America is no longer mainly about race. Sure, race is involved in a peripheral manner, but racism has mainly become an excuse, a dodge, a way to escape responsibility.

When a black liberal is criticized, he cries racism. When liberalism fails, liberals cry racism. When the Democrat Party gets in trouble, liberals cry racism. It has become the ever present background noise of politics, like birds chirping in the forest.

Racism does still exist and always will, but once the Democrat Party joined the GOP in being opposed to racist policies, appealing to racism became a dead dog political loser in this country. The very fact that we've become so hypersensitive about it as a country is evidence of how far it has been pushed to the fringes.

Keep in mind that we live in a nation with a black President and a black Attorney General. Furthermore, the government is legally allowed to discriminate against white Americans based on the color of their skin and it happily does so; yet you can't go a day in this country without hearing liberals howling about what a racist country they live in. It has almost become a circular, faith-based argument. America is racist because so many liberals say it's racist because they've heard other liberals say the country is racist.

Well, if our country is so racist, why is it that the Left has to reach so far to find examples of racism? People didn’t have to do any reaching to find examples of racism in the fifties and sixties, did they? So, if racism is such an all powerful force in America today, how is it that liberals have gotten so desperate to see race in every issue that they've had to latch on to pitiful issues like these to support their claims?

    1) Criticizing the IRS: "Republicans are using [the IRS scandal] as their latest weapon in the war against the black man. ‘IRS’ is the new 'N****r.'" -- Martin Bashir

    2) Having a Republican National Convention during a hurricane: "They are happy to have a party with black people drowning." -- Yahoo News Washington bureau chief David Chalian on the Republican National Convention, which was going on at the same time as Hurricane Isaac.

    3) Wanting to own a gun to prevent break-ins: "I am loathe to bring up what is in our head because we don’t like to talk about it so much. But on this particular day, on Martin Luther King Day, I think this needs to be said. That imaginary person that’s going to break into your home and kill you, who does that person look like? You know, it’s not freckle-faced Jimmy down the street, is it really? I mean, that’s not what really, that’s not what really people, we never really want to talk about the racial or the class part of this, in terms of how it’s the poor or it’s people of color that we imagine that we’re afraid of. Why are we afraid? What is that, and it’s been a fear that has existed for a very, very long time." -- Michael Moore

    4) Mentioning the "Constitution" or "respect for the Founding Fathers:" "The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message,” Williams wrote. “References to a lack of respect for the ‘Founding Fathers’ and the ‘Constitution’ also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core ‘old-fashioned American values.’" -- Juan Williams

    5) Calling Obama "angry:" "That really bothered me. You notice (Romney) said anger twice. He’s really trying to use racial coding and access some really deep stereotypes about the angry black man. This is part of the playbook against Obama, the ‘otherization,’ he’s not like us. I know it’s a heavy thing, I don’t say it lightly, but this is ‘n*ggerization.’" -- Touré

    6) Saying that Barack Obama lies: "Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t. But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!" -- Maureen Dowd

    7) Noting that Obama is privileged: "Spotlighting his elite education is tantamount to racial bigotry because it insinuates that 'he took the place of someone else through affirmative action, that someone else being someone white.'" -- Jonathan Capehart

    8) Saying that unions boss Obama around: "The Republican Party is saying that the President of the United States has bosses, that the union bosses this President around, the unions boss him around. Does that sound to you like they are trying to consciously or subconsciously deliver the racist message that, of course, of course a black man can’t be the real boss?" -- Lawrence O’Donnell

    9) Supporting voter ID: “If you go back to the year 2000, when we had an obvious disaster and – and saw that our voting process needed refinement, and we did that in the America Votes Act and made sure that we could iron out those kinks, now you have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally – and very transparently – block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote Democratic candidates than Republican candidates. And it’s nothing short of that blatant.” -- Debbie Wasserman Schultz

    10) Saying "I want my country back:" "Do you remember tea baggers? It was just so much easier when we could just call them racists. I just don’t know why we can’t call them racists, or functionally retarded adults. The functionally retarded adults, the racists – with their cries of, ‘I want my country back. You know what they’re really saying is, ‘I want my white guy back.’ They apparently had no problem at all for the last eight years of habeas corpus being suspended, the Constitution being [expletive] on, illegal surveillance, lied to on a war or two, two stolen elections – yes, the John Kerry one was stolen too. That’s not tin-foil hat time. ” -- Janeane Garofalo

    11) Being fans of Herman Cain: "One of the things about Herman Cain is, I think that he makes that white Republican base of the party feel okay, feel like they are not racist because they can like this guy. I think he(he’s) giving that base a free pass. And I think they like him because they think he’s a black man who knows his place. I know that’s harsh, but that’s how it sure seems to me." -- Karen Finney

    12) Fighting for the 2nd Amendment: "I believe the NRA is the new KKK. And that the arming of so many black youths, uh, and loading up our community with drugs, and then just having an open shooting gallery, is the work of people who obviously don’t have our best interests [at heart]." -- Jason Whitlock

    13) Republicans trying to keep Obama from being reelected: "Look at, look, the Tea Partiers, who are controlling the Republican Party….Their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term. What’s, what does that, what underlines that? ‘Screw the country. We’re going to (do) whatever we (can) do to get this black man, we can, we’re going to do whatever we can to get this black man outta here.’… It is a racist thing." -- Morgan Freeman

    14) Disliking the fact that Obama is President: "They can’t stand the idea that he’s president, and a piece of it is racism. Not that somebody in one racial group doesn’t like somebody in another racial group, so what? It’s the sense that the white race must rule, that’s what racism is, and they can’t stand the idea that a man who’s not white is president. That is real, that sense of racial superiority and rule is in the hearts of some people in this country." -- Chris Matthews

    15) Disliking Barack Obama: "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African-American." -- Jimmy Carter



North Korea Shows The Pervasive Evil of Communism…and the Moral Bankruptcy of Communist Apologists

I spoke earlier today at the 2013 Liberty Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. But I don’t think anybody is going to remember my speech about the collapse of the welfare state, even though I presented lots of powerful data from the BIS, OECD, and IMF, and also shared a very funny cartoon showing what happens when there’s nothing left for interest groups to steal.

At a normal conference, my remarks may have resonated, but I freely admit that I was completely overshadowed by the presentation of Shin Dong-Hyuk, who is the only person to have successfully escaped from the North Korean gulag.

In the future, if I ever get discouraged and think the fight for freedom is too difficult, I will watch this video and realize that nothing in my life will ever compare to the horror of living under communism. It’s not nearly as powerful as today’s first-person presentation, but the video will give you some sense of the utter barbarity of the North Korean government.

Keep in mind, by the way, that North Korea is an awful and repressive country even for the people who aren’t in the gulags. Malnutrition is such a problem, for instance, that children are stunted and the North Korean army had to lower its requirements to allow soldiers as short as 4’8?.

So perhaps now you understand why I get so upset when people in the west glorify communist thugs such as Che Guevara, or use the Soviet hammer and sickle as a cutesy marketing gimmick.

I hope nobody would ever think to wear a Hermann Göring t-shirt or use the swastika in a value-neutral fashion, so why should it be okay to whitewash and/or rehabilitate communists?



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