Free Markets, Free People

Victor Davis Hanson

Let’s dump the Confederate flag. And let’s also dump the “Congressional Black Caucus, La Raza, etc.

Victor Davis Hanson makes the point that what once began as an exceptional experiment in unity and was often dubbed “a melting pot”, has now become a grouping of humorless and easily offended factions always trying to claim the mantle of victimhood:

In the last half-century, Americans have increasingly tended to emphasize race and tribe in promoting “diversity,” rather than seeking to strengthen the more tenuous notion of unity with their fellow citizens. We have forgotten that human nature is fond of division and must work at setting aside superficial tribal affinities to unite on the basis of core values and ideas. Symbols, flags, organizations, and phrases that emphasize racial difference and ethnic pride are no longer just fossilized notions from the 1960s; they are growing fissures in the American mosaic that now threaten to split the country apart — fueling the suspicion of less liberal and more homogeneous nations that the great American experiment will finally unwind as expected.

Symbols, flags, organizations, and phrases that emphasize racial difference and ethnic pride are no longer just fossilized notions from the 1960s; they are growing fissures in the American mosaic that now threaten to split the country apart — fueling the suspicion of less liberal and more homogeneous nations that the great American experiment will finally unwind as expected.

So the answer?  Dump all the symbols and organizations that divide.  Drop the race exclusive organizations like La Raza and the Congressional Black Caucus.  Either that or keep your mouth shut when someone starts the National Association of White People.

You can’t have it both ways.  And remember something that is indeed unique about this land:

In an America that was originally founded by mostly Northern European immigrants, a Juan Lopez from Oaxaca is freely accepted as a U.S. citizen in a way that a white Bob Jones would never fully be embraced as a citizen of Mexico, a country whose constitution still expressly sets out racially chauvinistic guidelines that govern immigration law. Someone who appears African or European would have a hard time fully integrating as a citizen in Chinese, Korean, or Japanese society, in a way not true of Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese in America. The world assumes that in America a president, attorney general, secretary of state, or Supreme Court justice can be black; but it would be as surprised to find whites as high public officials in Zimbabwe as to find a black as prime minister or foreign minister in Sweden or Germany.

We are Americans and we come from all sorts of places and backgrounds, but when we come here we do indeed assimilate into the dominant culture?

Why?  Because it is that culture (which, by the way, is borrowed from some of the best of many different cultures) that has made this country both exceptional and great.  It’s is the “go to” place for those looking for a better life.  Our illegal immigration problem points to that.

But if the left has its way, we’ll all hyphenate our “american” identity, claim victim status and work to divide the polity into bickering hate groups who find everyone else (to include those back through the centuries) at fault for their status.

Were there wrongs committed in history against various races and ethnic groups?  Of course there were.  But we don’t live in that era.   What counts is where we are today.  If those wrongs no longer exist then any progressive worth their salt should be claiming … progress.  If you’re as old as I am, you don’t have to claim it – you’ve seen it up close and personal. But instead of touting the progress, progressives are the ones leading the charge to divide and weaken.  To make us all “victims”.

Quite being victims.  Victimhood is a choice. Grow a backbone and say no to the negativity of that nonsense. Drop the symbols and groups that emphasize race and/or victimhood.  Become Americans.  Work together.

See Charleston for how it is done.

~McQ

The wages of emotional voting and lack of scrutiny? Obama

National Review has published an article by Victor Davis Hanson with three views of the Obama presidency.  One view is that of an Obama partisan and presents his presidency in a positive light.  The second is a decidedly non-partisan look that does precisely the opposite.  However, there’s a third view that I find most appealing and frankly the most honest:

A third view of Obama is neither so rosy as the first nor so melodramatic as the second. Obama may well have been an unapologetic progressive wolf in centrist clothing, but mostly he was a continuation of what he had been in the past: an unimpressive state legislator, a one-term partisan senator without any accomplishments, a lackadaisical executive who in his own words had to worry most about not appearing lazy and distracted. Obama as president simply pushed the right progressive buttons, all the more easily once his own party lost the Congress and he was freed to sign executive orders that enraged his enemies and moved the country leftward. He cares little about the scandals involving the IRS, VA, AP, NSA, GSA, TSA, EPA, Benghazi, and the Secret Service, other than ensuring that they stay far away from his own godhead.

Mostly, President Obama likes the ceremonial perks of his office — the public spotlight to pick sports winners, the regal access to the links in sporty golf attire, the huge plane and entourage, the video clips of his catlike descent down the stairs of Air Force One, and the captive audiences for his often ahistorical and confused ramblings about America’s past and present shortcomings. Rarely has a president entered office so inexperienced and unprepared, yet with such great hopes and expectations among the public. That he squandered such good will through petty spite and inexperience should not be surprising, given his meager qualifications and thin résumé. Most of Obama’s career in community organizing, academia, and the Illinois legislature was predicated on leveraging his race, name, and unique background with the pretensions of liberal America to land opportunities for which he knew in advance that he would never be held accountable.

Make sure you read the other two views, but unlike some who are sure Obama is following some sort of plan to hurt America, I don’t find this man able to purposely do much of anything.

One of the warnings many of us threw out there early on is he’d never “run anything or done anything”.  Think about it – his sole accomplishment before essentially running unopposed for and Illinois Senate seat, had been to write an autobiography.  About what?  Well, himself, of course.  He was all about self-promotion.   He is a first class narcissist as we’ve all discovered.  He loved the campaign but not the work.  He no sooner became an IL state senator, a poor one at best, than he began running for the US Senate.  In the case of both senate seats he came with an extraordinarily thin resume.  But, he was the right color with the right party at a time of two wars and an unpopular US president, and it just opened up for him.  Once ensconced in the US Senate he almost immediately began running for President on an even thinner resume (heck, with the US Senate run, he could at least claim “experience” at a state level).

I find Hanson’s point about Obama liking the “ceremonial perks” of office over the work to be dead on.  You’ve seen others remark about our “semi-retired” president.  His lack of leadership qualities is staggering.  And yet, there he is, in the Oval Office.

His domestic and foreign agendas have been a mish-mash of college dorm discussions and naive beliefs proffered by others equally as clueless (such as his former Secretary of State) combined to do enough harm that we’ll need years to overcome them.  His inability to work within the system, mostly because he doesn’t seem to know or understand how,  has left him frustrated.  His manner of dealing with his frustration is spiteful childishness and unilateral action which, frankly, he doesn’t care whether its legal or not.

What concerns me more than the fact that he’s so incompetent and as Hanson says “inexperienced and unprepared” is that a significant portion of the population was gulled into voting for him the first time and then, apparently uncritically, re-elected the man for 4 more awful years.

We’ve certainly paid the price for that bit of emotional voting and lack of scrutiny.

But let’s also not forget who aided and abetted this travesty and the lack of scrutiny.

All you have to know to understand what institution that was is to know that Marco Rubio and his wife have had 17 tickets in 20 years and own a “luxury speed boat” while Hillary Clinton’s past is essentially ignored.

And, as you might have surmised, that institution is again cranking up its machine to give us another incompetent who has more baggage and corruption surrounding her than one can shake a stick at.

Forewarned is forearmed, not that it is likely to change much.

~McQ

Quotes of the Day–liberal irony edition

Seriously folks, Victor Davis Hanson got me laughing so hard today that I almost coughed up a lung. 

What struck me as so funny?  His characterization of the left and Lybia Libya.   His article nails it.

Quote one:

Even liberal television and radio commentators cite ingenious reasons why an optional, preemptive American intervention in an oil-producing Arab country, without prior congressional approval or majority public support — and at a time of soaring deficits — is well worth supporting, in a sort of “my president, right or wrong,” fashion.

He calls that the “war mongering liberals” and claims it may presage a move by the left to pre-Vietnam days of “hawkish ‘best and brightest’”.  Still laughing over that possibility.

Quote two:

Conservatives have complained that opposition — especially in the cases of then-senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden — to George W. Bush’s antiterrorism policies and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was more partisan than principled. Obama ended that debate by showing that not only can he embrace — or, on occasion, expand — the Bush-Cheney tribunals, preventive detentions, renditions, Predator attacks, intercepts and wiretaps, and Guantanamo Bay, but he can now preemptively attack an Arab oil-exporting country without fear of Hollywood, congressional cutoffs, MoveOn.org “General Betray Us”–type ads, Cindy Sheehan on the evening news, or Checkpoint-like novels. In short, Obama has ensured that the antiwar movement will never be quite the same.

Tell me you’re still not chuckling, huh?  I mean check out that laundry list of, uh, accomplishments that Obama has “embrace[d]” or “expand[ed]” upon.  It was that list that had the left in a high hover for almost 8 years when Bush was in office.  Obama?  Meh, not so much.  It is absolutely telling that the “anti-war movement” now appears to have been about as principled as Jimmy Swaggart.  Long on preaching, making signs and talking about high minded principles.  But when their choice of a prez does the same or more … pretty much crickets. Remember the rumble about “preemptive” war? “War of choice”?  “Dumb wars”? Done and done.

While there are some on the left that have been consistent in their positions, they’re few and far between.

So, is your irony meter pegging out yet?  No?  Try this – quote three:

The media serially blamed a supposedly lazy Ronald Reagan for napping during military operations abroad. George W. Bush was criticized for cutting brush at his Texas ranch while soldiers fought and died in Iraq. Obama rendered all such presidential criticism mere nitpicking when he started aerial bombardment in the midst of golfing, handicapping the NCAA basketball tournament, and taking his family to Rio de Janeiro.

Inconsistency?  Not our media.  Bad “optics” are only for the right.  Of course they’re no worse than our President or the left in general.  But the irony impairment of all those folks remains a serious condition.

Quote four:

After Bush’s interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, many war-weary Americans believed that we would never again get involved in a Middle East war. But now, with Obama’s preemptive bombing of Libya, giddy American interventionists are again eyeing Iran, Syria — and beyond!

I keep thinking back to Robert Gates at West Point this year and his line about how any president who gets us engaged in another war in the middle east needs to have his head examined.

Uh, I think it is about time, don’t you?  Some may argue it is well past time.

~McQ

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Krugman – wow, just "wow".

I really don’t know how to actually characterize my reaction to this nonsense from Paul Krugman except to say if you thought he was in bizarro land before, check this out. The irony is he calls others stupid and invokes "Economics 101" when it’s clear … well you take a look. Here he’s talking about the proposed $50 billion "stimulus" focused on infrastructure. And he begins to pontificate:

Beyond all that, the new initiative is a chance for me to air one of my pet peeves: the stupidity of the claim, which you hear all the time — and you’ll hear again now — that it’s always better to provide stimulus in the form of tax cuts, because individuals know better than the government what to do with their money.

Why is this claim stupid? Because Econ 101 tells us that there are some things the government must provide, namely public goods whose benefits can’t be internalized by the market.

I had a friend who would accuse people like Krugman of being like a goose and waking up in a new world everyday. Apparently in today’s new world Krugman has forgotten that we just spent most of a trillion borrowed dollars on infrastructure stimulus. And then there was TARP, cash for clunkers, home buyers tax credit, mortgage payment relief and unending unemployment benefits. But it’s all too small now and it’s the fault of the usual suspects.

What Krugman doesn’t want you to remember, of course is his own recommendation on the size of the stimulus package:

All indications are that the new administration will offer a major stimulus package. My own back-of-the-envelope calculations say that the package should be huge, on the order of $600 billion.

In fact, the administration added 30% to his number and now, suddenly, it’s all too small. Not only that, it failed miserably.  And, when you add it all up, it’s about 3 trillion in spending for “public goods” over two years added to the federal debt. 

Result? 14.9 Americans unemployed, the economy in a shambles and consumers afraid to spend.  And Krugman, in his new world today, demands more spending and has the temerity to call those opposing it stupid and his approach “econ 101”.

To add to the Krugman madness, we have him essentially pining for the good old days of spending like we did during WWII.   Despite the fact that it all but destroyed the world and did destroy about 80 million lives, that’s the level of spending he now thinks is needed. 

From an economic point of view World War II was, above all, a burst of deficit-financed government spending, on a scale that would never have been approved otherwise. Over the course of the war the federal government borrowed an amount equal to roughly twice the value of G.D.P. in 1940 — the equivalent of roughly $30 trillion today.

Had anyone proposed spending even a fraction that much before the war, people would have said the same things they’re saying today. They would have warned about crushing debt and runaway inflation. They would also have said, rightly, that the Depression was in large part caused by excess debt — and then have declared that it was impossible to fix this problem by issuing even more debt.

But guess what? Deficit spending created an economic boom — and the boom laid the foundation for long-run prosperity. Overall debt in the economy — public plus private — actually fell as a percentage of G.D.P., thanks to economic growth and, yes, some inflation, which reduced the real value of outstanding debts. And after the war, thanks to the improved financial position of the private sector, the economy was able to thrive without continuing deficits.

This is possibly the most blinkered and absurd bit of revisionist history I’ve read in a long time. There’s a "rest of the story" that makes this so much word salad that Krugman obviously studiously ignores in order to attempt this absurd plea to what, spend the equivalent of 30 trillion in deficit dollars (or to drive home the point that 3 trillion isn’t nearly enough)?

Victor Davis Hanson handily disassembles Krugman’s “work” and shows it up for the dishonesty that it is:

As WWII ended and the clean-up began, there was an enormous amount of pent-up global demand for goods. Given the wreckage in Europe, Japan, and Russia and the underdevelopment of India, Asia, and South America, we were about the only ones with the industrial and commercial wherewithal to supply the world rebound — often receiving cheap oil, gas, minerals, and interest in exchange, which supplemented our own vast supplies of comparatively cheap and easily recoverable resources. Nor should we forget the psychological element: Americans, after winning two wars, were enormously confident about their newfound international stature and influence.

At home, four years of consumer deprivation during the war and the weak demography of the 1930s had combined to create huge demand, all while society was increasingly leaving the farm for good and becoming suburbanized. The result was that in the late 1940s and 1950s, the birth rate soared and consumers enthusiastically made first-time purchases of washers, dryers, fridges, cars, etc. Thus, the American economy grew by leaps and bounds.

Today’s situation is not comparable: We are in hock to foreign creditors for trillions and have not been a net creditor since the 1980s. A China, Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan, or India is as or more likely to supply recovering demand for food, steel, or electronics. One can read Krugman-like arguments in Greek newspapers today — that only more massive borrowing can stimulate Greek demand, provide jobs, and grow Greece out of its recession. As if present-day deficits and aggregate debt with soon-to-be-rising interest payments don’t really matter.

It is always an indication that you probably shouldn’t pay much attention to a certain economist when it takes an expert in history to tell the economist his business.

But then that’s to be expected if you wake up in a new world everyday as it appears Paul Krugman does.

~McQ

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