The Obama We Knew But Denied


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March 30, 2009
The Obama We Knew But Denied
By Kyle-Anne Shiver

What if an American President campaigned as a pragmatic centrist, promised tax cuts to 95% of the American people and pledged himself to a new era of government honesty, openness and bipartisanship, but never had any of those intentions? The result might be a cabinet full of tax cheats, political cronies and lobbyists, and a president peddling an overstuffed budget of liberal dream-schemes at a time when the American economy can least afford an extra nickel for folderol or fiddling.

Meanwhile Rome is burning.

President Obama rolls the dice and grabs a can of kerosene.

This president’s budget, plus the Faux Stimulus monstrosity, plus the TARP bailouts all add up to the biggest, most irresponsible spending spree in American history. Yet, according to some of the best and brightest economists on the planet, these schemes are built upon overly rosy expectations, will do little to stimulate any economic growth and promise to punitively tax the very people and industries we need to provide investment capital and jobs to actually create the pie from which all these liberal cherries are to be plucked.

Yet President Obama and his double host of Ivy League staffers are billed to be the smartest folks in the Country.

If I didn’t know better, I might suspect these people aren’t really interested in returning America to prosperity.

The Obama We Knew, but Most Denied

The man who is now president, Barack Obama, is precisely the man whose spiritual mentor for 2 decades, Jeremiah Wright, denounced “white folks greed” running “a world in need.” Barack Obama is precisely the man whose political mentor, Saul Alinsky, advised the use of any and all means necessary to take power in America, and to clothe his deceit in “moral garments.” Barack Obama is precisely the man whose most influential and moneyed backer was George Soros, the Fabian socialist whose financial schemes have garnered great wealth for him while leaving whole economies in shambles, the way ours is now.

Anyone still harboring the illusion that President Barack Obama cares one whit about the millions of Americans whose retirement funds and futures dwindle with each passing day of this “regime change” needs a reality check.

Barack Obama is the man who declared that bankrupting the coal industry would be the natural and desired result of his environmental policies, that his Global Poverty Act would bring “collective redemption” to an America presiding over an unfair world and that dismantling our defenses would make the world more safe.

So, as President Barack Obama now divvies up the slices of America’s pie in roll-the-dice fashion, while he takes it upon himself to demolish the defenses that have kept us safe for seven whole years in a world out to destroy us and our best ally, Israel, those moderates who looked the other way and denied the truth now claim this is not the Barack Obama they knew.

Smart people always make the most dangerous fools.

Why must it always be us fervent conservatives who see the truth and have the guts to proclaim it.

Now, surely I’m not the only person in America who remembers full-well this little tirade of candidate Obama’s on how we Americans “can’t just drive our SUVs, eat all we want and keep our thermostats at 72 degrees…and expect that the rest of the world will just say, “Okay.” Surely, I’m not the only American citizen who remembers that George Soros was one of Barack Obama’s first and most influential backers and that Soros considers U.S. hegemony as an enemy to global governance, of the sort he has always supported.

The sad truth is that Barack Obama and his cabal of international socialists have every intention of bursting the bubble of American supremacy. They see America as the lynchpin of a global situation they deplore, a world that is inherently unfair. A world in which there is no genuine evil, only valid grievances for past oppression. It is that unfairness for which America now must pay with her 401Ks. And to these “liberal communists,” Barack Obama declared fealty in his “Citizen of the World” speech in Berlin.

I’m thinking the words, “we’ve been had,” are now forming in the minds of moderates from coast to coast.

The Race-Card Jujitsu

A vast array of Americans seem to still be scratching their heads in wonder at how a complete political knave has been elected to the highest office in the land with nary a single real accomplishment on his resume. But I would submit that it is not possible for an electorate to make wise decisions without the benefit of full disclosure about their candidates, without the tenacious investigating and forthright reporting by the fourth estate — our media complex.

It is now no secret that our press saw fit to emphasize non-stories about Governor Sarah Palin and Senator McCain, while all but completely ignoring genuinely troubling information and huge gaps in information about the man Americans eventually elected. Voter surveys taken immediately after the election make this point painfully apparent.

This Zogby poll of Obama voters, at the behest of John Zeigler, has drawn wide attention and vociferous attacks, but the polling data seems to verify what many noticed during the election season. Barack Obama was getting a free pass on just about anything and everything that made him look less than ready to lead our Nation.

The basics:

512 Obama Voters 11/13/08-11/15/08 MOE +/- 4.4 points

97.1% High School Graduate or higher, 55% College Graduates

Results to 12 simple Multiple Choice Questions

57.4% could NOT correctly say which party controls Congress (50/50 shot just by guessing)

71.8% could NOT correctly say Joe Biden quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism (25% chance by guessing)

82.6% could NOT correctly say that Barack Obama won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot (25% chance by guessing)

88.4% could NOT correctly say that Obama said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket (25% chance by guessing)

56.1% could NOT correctly say Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground (25% chance by guessing).

And yet…..

Only 13.7% failed to identify Sarah Palin as the person on which their party spent $150,000 in clothes

Only 6.2% failed to identify Palin as the one with a pregnant teenage daughter

And 86.9 % thought that Palin said that she could see Russia from her “house,” even though that was Tina Fey who said that!!

Only 2.4% got at least 11 correct.

Only .5% got all of them correct. (And we “gave” one answer that was technically not Palin, but actually Tina Fey)

The only suggestions from any candidate that Barack Obama was receiving extra favorable coverage came from Bill and Hillary Clinton during the primaries, and they were slam-dunked for being racists in nearly all corners.

Were the Clintons being racist in their complaints? I don’t think so.

In fact, I would venture to say at this juncture that it was Obama’s race – and nothing else – that enabled his election to the presidency. President Obama is now the president owing to a perfect race-card jujitsu.

There are two kinds of racism. One is openly hateful and virulent. The other is elitist and condescending, and deceitfully parades as generous niceness.

We saw next to no racism of the first kind during this election campaign. The other may have been the guiding force behind our liberal media’s disinclination to hold candidate Barack Obama to the same standards as his white-peer candidates.

I first encountered this condescending type of prejudice as the mother of a handicapped child. Our son became deaf at age three due to a near-fatal bout of meningitis, and I was suddenly thrust into the world of special education. This world is filled with lovely liberals with the very best of intentions. They offer a host of helpful information and provide a great service for students, who were once shuffled off to residential institutions, out of sight and equally out of mind, much the way black students were once contained to all-black schools.

But the ugly side of special education is that many (if not most) of the educators have a very condescending view of their students, very seldom expecting them to work as hard or ever come even close to meeting the same expectations we have for so-called normal students of the same age and intelligence. And sad to say, black parents report much of this same condescension from teachers of both races, especially when economic disadvantage and broken homes affect the student.

It boils down to an unspoken belief that certain students simply cannot be held to the same standard as other, more advantaged students. This attitude is not only unspoken, it is actively hidden from view.

We saw a perfect glimpse of this condescending prejudice from Rev. Jeremiah Wright, when he spoke to the NAACP on the differences between white children and black children. Wright declared that black children simply could not learn in the same rigid type of environment in which white children thrived. “Their brains are wired differently,” he proclaimed.

This is simply a way of saying, “Black children can’t succeed” in a white world with the same standards of achievement for all. This prejudiced attitude is the foundation of affirmative action, whether in education or employment. Whatever standards cannot be met by the disadvantaged group must be waived out of deceptive “niceness.”

This is the insidious prejudice that has all-but destroyed our nation’s public schools. For the past 40 years, we have disregarded objective standards of proficiency in favor of student self-esteem. We have discarded uniform discipline and standards of civil behavior in favor of a system with double standards, high for those we deem worthy of it, very low for those we believe deficient.

Wright was widely condemned for saying out loud and in public exactly what was happening with his own candidate for president. In failing to adequately cover candidate Obama’s past, the host of his unreleased documents, including grades, and in otherwise defending every deficiency, from over-dependence on the teleprompter to his refusal to answer questions, our press demonstrated at nearly every turn its own institutional racism of the most condescending nature.

President Obama took advantage of this and received a 53% majority of the vote. This election, I predict, will stand as the most perfect example of political jujitsu ever enacted. An entire Nation choked on its own liberal-racism petard and doesn’t even have the courage to admit it. We have become a Nation of fools and President Barack Obama is our just dessert.

Kyle-Anne Shiver is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. She welcomes your comments at

Page Printed from: at March 30, 2009 – 07:54:31 PM EDT


Creeping Authoritarianism

“Creepy Authoritarianism”–and Creeping Authoritarianism
27 Written by: Diana West
Friday, March 27, 2009 3:35 AM

Photo: The face of “volunteerism” to come?

Remember when Candidate Obama called for “a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the regular military? Gave me the willies.

Well, Congress may have just brought this proto-fascist-sounding plan to life. Here, finally, is some ink on a hackle-raising “national service plan,” in this case from the editorial page of the San Fran Examiner:

With almost no public attention, both chambers of Congress in the past week advanced an alarming expansion of the Americorps national service plan, with the number of federally funded community-service jobs increasing from 75,000 to 250,000 at a cost of $5.7 billion. Lurking behind the feel-good rhetoric spouted by the measure’s advocates is a bill that upon closer inspection reveals multiple provisions that together create a strong odor of creepy authoritarianism.

The House passed the measure overwhelmingly, while only 14 senators had the sense and courage to vote against it on a key procedural motion. Every legislator who either voted for this bill or didn’t vote at all has some serious explaining to do.

Last summer, then-candidate Barack Obama threw civil liberties to the wind when he proposed “a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the regular military. The expanded Americorps is not quite so disturbing, but a number of provisions in the bill raise serious concerns.

To begin with, the legislation threatens the voluntary nature of Americorps by calling for consideration of “a workable, fair and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people.” It anticipates the possibility of requiring “all individuals in the United States” to perform such service, including elementary school students.

The bill also summons up unsettling memories of World War II-era paramilitary groups by saying the new program should “combine the best practices of civilian service with the best aspects of military service,” while establishing “campuses” that serve as “operational headquarters,” complete with “superintendents” and “uniforms” for all participants. It allows for the elimination of all age restrictions in order to involve Americans at all stages of life. And, it calls for the creation of “a permanent cadre” in a “National Community Civilian Corps.”

But that’s not all. The bill also calls for “youth engagement zones” in which “service learning” is “a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency.”

This updated form of voluntary community service is also to be “integrated into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics curricula” at all levels of schooling. Sounds like a government curriculum for government-approved “service learning,” which is nothing less than indoctrination.

Now, ask yourself if Congress members who voted for this monstrosity had a clue what they were voting for. If not, they’re guilty of dereliction of duty. If they did, the implications are truly frightening.

Bailing Out of the Constitution



Bailing Out of the Constitution

By George F. Will
Sunday, March 29, 2009; A15

It is high time Americans heard an argument that might turn a vague national uneasiness into a vivid awareness of something going very wrong. The argument is that the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) is unconstitutional.

By enacting it, Congress did not in any meaningful sense make a law. Rather, it made executive branch officials into legislators. Congress said to the executive branch, in effect: “Here is $700 billion. You say you will use some of it to buy up banks’ ‘troubled assets.’ But if you prefer to do anything else with the money — even, say, subsidize automobile companies — well, whatever.”

FreedomWorks, a Washington-based libertarian advocacy organization, argues that EESA violates “the nondelegation doctrine.” Although the text does not spell it out, the Constitution’s logic and structure — particularly the separation of powers — imply limits on the size and kind of discretion that Congress may confer on the executive branch.

The Vesting Clause of Article I says, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in” Congress. All. Therefore, none shall be vested elsewhere. Gary Lawson of Boston University’s School of Law suggests a thought experiment:

Suppose Congress passes the Goodness and Niceness Act. Section 1 outlaws all transactions involving, no matter how tangentially, interstate commerce that do not promote goodness and niceness. Section 2 says that the president shall define the statute’s meaning with regulations that define and promote goodness and niceness and specify penalties for violations.

Surely this would be incompatible with the Vesting Clause. Where would the Goodness and Niceness Act really be written? In Congress? No, in the executive branch. Lawson says that nothing in the Constitution’s enumeration of powers authorizes Congress to enact such a statute. The only power conferred on Congress by the commerce clause is to regulate. The Goodness and Niceness Act does not itself regulate, it just identifies a regulator.

The Constitution empowers Congress to make laws “necessary and proper” for carrying into execution federal purposes. But if gargantuan grants of discretion are necessary, are the purposes proper? Indeed, such designs should be considered presumptively improper. What, then, about the Goodness and Niceness Act, which, as Lawson says, delegates all practical decision-making power to the president? What about EESA?

Writing in the New Republic, Jeffrey Rosen of George Washington University Law School makes a prudential point: “The military-spending scandals during World War II, exposed by the Truman Committee, showed the risks for corruption and fraud when the executive branch is given a free hand to spend vast amounts of money.” But even in the unlikely event that the executive branch exercises its excessive EESA discretion efficiently, the mere exercise would nevertheless subvert the principle of separation of powers, which, as Justice Louis Brandeis said, was adopted “not to promote efficiency but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power.”

As government grows, legislative power, and with it accountability, must shrink. The nation has had 535 national legislators for almost half a century. During that time the federal government’s business — or, more precisely, its busy-ness — has probably grown at least twenty-fold. Vast grants of discretion to the executive branch by Congress, such as EESA, may be necessary — if America is going to have constant governmental hyperkinesis. If Washington is going to do the sort of things that EESA enables — erasing the distinction between public and private sectors; licensing uncircumscribed executive branch conscription of, and experimentation with, the nation’s resources.

Since the New Deal era, few laws have been invalidated on the ground that they improperly delegated legislative powers. And Chief Justice John Marshall did say that the “precise boundary” of the power to “make” or the power to “execute” the law “is a subject of delicate and difficult inquiry.” Still, surely sometimes the judiciary must adjudicate such boundary disputes.

The Supreme Court has said: “That Congress cannot delegate legislative power to the president is a principle universally recognized as vital to the integrity and maintenance of the system of government ordained by the Constitution.” And the court has said that properly delegated discretion must come with “an intelligible principle” and must “clearly delineate” a policy that limits the discretion. EESA flunks that test.

With EESA, Congress forces the country to ponder the paradox of sovereignty: If sovereign people freely choose to surrender their sovereignty, is this willed subordination really subordination?

It is. Congress has done that. A court should hear the argument that Congress cannot so divest itself of powers vested in it.

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Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto — Top Selling Book Today on


Conservative talk radio’s fastest-growing superstar is also a New York Times bestselling phenomenon: the author of the groundbreaking critique of the Supreme Court, Men in Black, and the deeply personal dog lover’s memoir Rescuing Sprite, Mark R. Levin now delivers the book that characterizes both his devotion to his more than 5 million listeners and his love of our country and the legacy of our Founding Fathers: Liberty and Tyranny is Mark R. Levin’s clarion call to conservative America, a new manifesto for the conservative movement for the 21st century.
In the face of the modern liberal assault on Constitution-based values, an attack that has steadily snowballed since President Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s and resulted in a federal government that is a massive, unaccountable conglomerate, the time for re-enforcing the intellectual and practical case for conservatism is now. Conservative beliefs in individual freedoms do in the end stand for liberty for all Americans, while liberal dictates lead to the breakdown of civilized society — in short, tyranny. Looking back to look to the future, Levin writes “conservatism is the antidote to tyranny precisely because its principles are our founding principles.” And in a series of powerful essays, Levin lays out how conservatives can counter the liberal corrosion that has filtered into every timely issue affecting our daily lives, from the economy to health care, global warming, immigration, and more — and illustrates how change, as seen through the conservative lens, is always prudent, and always an enhancement to individual freedom.

As provocative, well-reasoned, robust, and informed as his on-air commentary, Levin’s narrative will galvanize readers to begin a new era in conservative thinking and action. Liberty and Tyranny provides a philosophical, historical, and practical framework for revitalizing the conservative vision and ensuring the preservation of American society.

What kind of opportunistic president thrives on chaos?


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March 25, 2009
What kind of president thrives on chaos?
By James Lewis

Is it conceivable that a president would want matters to get worse?

Lincoln did not pray for a Civil War to befall the country to make him look good; just the opposite. Washington and the Founders did not want the Revolutionary War. FDR did not actually want to worsen the Great Depression, though he ended up doing just that according to some economic historians.

To be sure, New Deal Democrats deliberately parlayed economic crisis into political opportunities. FDR’s sidekick Harry Hopkins never stopped trying to “Tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect.” The Hopkins formula kept the Democrats in control of Congress for forty years, and now they are trying it again with a trillion-dollar Harry Hopkins Memorial Act. Even European socialists are aghast at our gluttonous Democrats.

Needless to say, the Hopkins formula led to decades of stupid and destructive social policies, devastating Black families that had managed to stay together during the worst years of Dixiecrat oppression in the South, corroding our inner city schools, popularizing abortion and divorce, rationalizing hedonism and drugs, undermining the work ethic, setting women against men, the poor against the rich, illegals against citizens, and phony liberal pacifists against American national security. The Left sprinkles poison seeds wherever it goes — which is why even Vladimir Putin (!!) just advised us not take the Marxist road to ruin, like Russia did. Imagine that.

What’s the actual evidence that Obama is trying to make things worse? At this point, it can only be inferred from his actions and statements. Outright proof of sabotage would trigger a political earthquake. Imagine a White House insider leaking Blackberry emails between Obama and Axelrod about how to make the economic crisis last longer. Imagine evidence coming to light that the five-hour electronic assault on the financial markets on September 17, 2008, was timed to elect Obama. Imagine Rahm Emanuel actually advising the President in a concrete policy discussion, “Never let a crisis go to waste!”

I’m not claiming it’s true. It’s a question.

Andrew McCarthy of National Review Online seems to be arguing a similar case:

“… the more (investment) value the Obama administration and the Democrat Congress destroy – their demagoguery and fiscally insane policies eviscerating the very tax base needed to pay for their exploding liabilities – the more control they get.” (italics added)

Here are some relevant facts.

1. Never waste a crisis.

The most cited evidence is Rahm Emanuel’s line to never waste a crisis. But it doesn’t mean you want to create or prolong a crisis. Lenin famously hoped for things to get worse, so that his revolution would be the only answer in the minds of the people. It is a typical revenge fantasy of out-of-power ideologues, but it is quite another thing to put that revenge fantasy into practice. There is a difference between rage and sabotage.

2. The O budget.

Nobody knows how many trillions of dollars of money are going to have to be created by the Federal Reserve to buy Treasury obligations, because the Chinese have signaled they’re not interested in being repaid in devalued dollars, and are questioning the dollar as a reserve currency. Loss of reserve currency status would substantially weaken United States power.

That is either gross stupidity or actual sabotage. Which is it?

3. Inappropriate giggling.

Even the media are noticing: There is something weird about all the fun this administration is having in a time of national crisis. On Sixty Minutes this week, according to The Politico:

“President Barack Obama said he believes the global financial system remains at risk of implosion with the failure of Citigroup or AIG, which could touch off “an even more destructive recession and potentially depression.”

“His remarks came in a”60 Minutes” interview in which he was pressed by Steve Kroft for laughing and chuckling several times while discussing the perilous state of the world’s economy.”

“You’re sitting here. And you’re- you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about money-‘ How do you deal with- I mean: explain. . .” Kroft asked at one point.”Are you punch-drunk?”

When the lefty media start noticing grossly inappropriate behavior you know you’re in trouble.

The odd laughter did not seem to be a nervous giggle, but rather laughter of someone who sees an irony he knows others won’t appreciate, because they don’t see the larger game at hand. If they only knew…. If he wants chaos, and all the media and public concern over job losses is beside the point. He is succeeding. They don’t get it, but he does.

4. Spreading alarm and scapegoating during a crisis of confidence.

“… Obama made clear that he’s afraid the nation hasn’t seen the worst of the economic crisis. He said the recession deepened faster than he expected, particularly in terms of job losses.” Obama also cited Wall Street’s high-risk, high-reward culture as a main cause of the economic meltdown. He took aim at traders and executives in personal terms-saying they need to leave New York for North Dakota or Iowa to appreciate how out-of-whack their pay looks to the average American.

”I mean there were a whole bunch of folks who, on paper, if you looked at quarterly reports, were wildly successful, selling derivatives that turned out to be. . .completely worthless,” Obama said, with a chuckle.

I don’t know what else to call this, but there is something badly wrong with the tone of Barak Obama going on the Tonight Show to trade gags with Jay Leno, when the market value of American investments has been cut in half. Or calling for “a new era of responsibility” after passing the most grossly irresponsible piece of piggery in American history. Those things are either deeply cynical and malevolent, or deeply out of touch with reality. Either one is bad news for the country.

5. Incompetence or worse in foreign affairs.

“We hope we don’t regret our trust in the United States,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said at the Brussels Forum conference to an audience of senior world politicians and experts.” He was talking about Obama waffling about the missile shield the US promised to install in Eastern Europe, to defend against Iranian, and if necessary against Russian missiles. The Poles have a history of being betrayed by the West in World War Two and the Cold War. They see a militant Russia again, and Europe is being pathetic. No wonder they are afraid.

“I am afraid Russian generals and even the Russian president continue to threaten us with the deployment of medium-range missiles,” Sikorski said.

The US rep naturally pooh-poohed all those fears.

We’ll see what happens.

I don’t think we have proof — yet — of outright sabotage at the very top. We do have reason to worry.

The time to rein in this administration is right now: All House members are running for re-election, and a third of the Senate. They are raising money and making plans. Democrats are seeing the Obama glamour wearing off so fast that they are getting that terrible sinking feeling: Uh-oh, the Messiah is in trouble. Americans are not helpless against this president, and conservatives should be working to support the best candidates for Congress at this very moment.

Page Printed from: at March 25, 2009 – 07:57:35 PM EDT

Mark Levin’s New Book — Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto


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March 23, 2009
Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto
By Thomas Lifson

Mark Levin’s new book, published today, is essential reading. It is a remarkable work on several different levels. It takes no degree of clairvoyance to predict that it will become an enormous best seller and very soon begin to influence the national political debate.

Liberty and Tyranny artfully presents a harmonious marriage of the timeless with the timely. On the one hand, the book is a thorough yet compact briefing on the major political issues of this era. On the other hand, the author brings to bear the principles of the American Founders and Framers of the Constitution (and the great thinkers who guided them), illustrating, dissecting, and explaining our current political arguments, while enlightening the reader with the genuine wisdom bequeathed to all of us — the sacred trust of the Founders, embodied in the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and Federalist Papers, all of which are quoted and applied with insight and precision.

Think of it as an outstanding tutorial in applied political philosophy, and you will begin to grasp the scope of Mark Levin’s achievement. The fact that the book is lucid, unpretentious, and utterly accessible to anyone who cares to focus and think, means that it will elevate the quality of political thought and dialogue across a broad swath of the American populace.

If you care passionately about America, and worry for its future — and who doesn’t, given the current national leadership? — then you owe it to yourself to buy and devour this marvelous work. It is an essential antidote to what ails America at the moment.

Each chapter is a well-constructed essay, so the reader is quite free to read it a little at a time. But, unlike so many contemporary political works, it is also a well-constructed and coherent whole. So you may be tempted to stay up all night reading it as soon as a copy comes into your hands.

Conservatives who read Liberty and Tyranny will be supplied with ample ammunition to outsmart, outthink and out-reason their liberal friends who are brave enough to actually engage in a serious political debate with them.

The overall plan of the book is simple and logical. Chapter One, “On Liberty and Tyranny,” lays out the basic conceptual scheme. Levin contrasts two opposing political philosophies currently in contention: The Conservative versus the Statist. He grounds the Conservative in the values and insights on human nature of the American Founders, and does so economically and convincingly. For the other side of the debate, he quite correctly rejects the label “liberal”, because in current usage the term has become entirely divorced from its literal meaning. He writes:

The Modern Liberal believes in the supremacy of the state…. For the Modern Liberal, the individual’s imperfection and personal pursuits impede the objectives of a utopian state. In this, Modern Liberalism promotes what French Historian Alexis de Tocqueville called soft tyranny, which becomes increasingly more oppressive, partially leading to hard tyranny…. As the word “liberal” is, in its classical meaning, the opposite of authoritarian, it is more accurate, therefore, to characterize the Modern Liberal as a Statist. (p.4)

The following nine chapters, plus an epilogue containing Levin’s own manifesto — the political changes he posits as desirable (and with which I agree) — are organized thematically, with titles such as On Prudence and Progress, On Faith and the Founding, On the Welfare State, and On Self Preservation (i.e., national security), wherein he encapsulates nearly all the major political issues of our day, providing essential up-to-date information, while also weaving in the wisdom a timeless thinkers ranging from Alexander Hamilton to St Augustine. As the book progresses, the chapters become more and more focused on current political disputes. But the beauty of the structure is that the principles discussed in the earlier chapters are brought to bear on the subsequent topics.

I am proud to note that American Thinker’s Lee Cary is quoted in the book’s chapter, “On Immigration.” Considering the company Dr. Cary is keeping as a source for the book, this is a high honor indeed, both for him and for AT.

The epilogue, wherein Mark tells us what we conservatives can do, and where he outlines what changes he sees as necessary to beat back the now-ascendant forces of statism, may certainly spark some disagreement, because Mark pulls no punches. He is setting a lofty target, but one that is amply justified by the clear-headed research and writing that went into the body of the text.

Fans of Mark Levin’s syndicated radio show will recognize the voice of the hard-hitting champion of conservatism they know and love. But there is also, for those unfamiliar with Mark’s radio work (but perhaps propagandized by liberal media into dismissing him as a crazy right wing radical), a remarkable and persuasive tone, based on solid research, extensively documented, and unchallengeable reason. This book could actually change some minds, especially as the nation’s peril becomes more and more apparent.

All in all, Mark Levin has given us a remarkable gift. Read this book, and buy copies for those you care about, too. Anyone from a clever high schooler to a scholar of political philosophy can benefit from reading Liberty and Tyranny.

Thomas Lifson is editor and publisher of American Thinker.

Page Printed from: at March 24, 2009 – 07:34:34 PM EDT

Bureaucratic Compulsion Gone Wild


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March 24, 2009
The Instinct of the Clueless
By Christopher Chantrill

President Obama has got it all wrong. The problem with the economy is not greedy bankers trousering their multi-million dollar bonuses. So his plan to fix the banks and tighten up on financial regulation misses the point.

The problem with this economy, with this nation, is greedy politicians and political activists. We are not talking about money greed either, although politicians have always insisted on their share of the loot. We are talking about a deeper, darker greed: the greed for power, for adulation, for ordering people about.

The president’s new bank plan gives the government vast new powers. Well of course it does. Governments always think that the solution to a problem is an increase in government power.

It is surely time to update Dr. Johnson’s famous saying: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

I think we need to change the old saying into something we can believe in, something like this:

Compulsion is the first instinct of the clueless.

What do you think of that, Mr. President?

I’d say that, after the experience of the week of the AIG outrages and the shock, shock, that bonuses were being paid to wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Dodd political empire, the most clueless thing that a politician could suggest is an ex-post-facto law on executive bonuses, vast new powers and a new regime of tightened financial regulation. But there’s one thing to be grateful for, according to the AP:

Under the new powers being sought by the administration, the treasury secretary could only seize a firm with the agreement of the president and the Federal Reserve.

That’s a relief.

The president is at least consistent. His bank bailout program, like the rest of his program, is all about compulsion: more compulsion in health care, more compulsion in education, a whole new area of compulsion in climate control, and “new powers” in financial regulation.

John Taylor Gatto, who is a bit of a wild man, reckons in his Underground History of American Education that the whole compulsion culture was always a corrupt bargain between the political elite and the business elite. For instance, the father of compulsory education, Horace Mann, was a Boston political insider who married a Mary Tyler Peabody — as in Peabody coal. Mary wrote a whole-word reading primer. Then Mann visited Prussia in 1843 and came back “satisfied that our greatest error in teaching children to read lies in beginning with the alphabet,” using the traditional method we now call “phonics.” Education has never been the same.

By the end of the nineteenth century government compulsion and regimentation seemed to be the wave of the future. Everyone agreed that centralized bureaucratic structure was beneficial and inevitable in everything from central banking to manufacturing and health care.

It certainly represents the animating principle in the Obama vision of America.

But while political elitists like Barack Obama have been drinking the Kool-Aid of compulsion the business elite has been turning away from regimentation. Even the Prussians, inventors of ferocious army discipline and compulsory schools, were among the first to give up on it. General von Seeckt wrote in 1921 of the need for an individual

soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility[.]

There’s even a German word for that: verantwortungsfreudig. As we know, this principle is now the dominant culture in business. It was demonstrated most recently during Hurricane Katrina when bureaucratic government failed utterly but Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott sent the word down to his people that they’d be making decisions “above their level” but to do the best they could with the information available at the time and “above all, do the right thing.”

Now we have another Wal-Mart story. Writer Charles Platt thought he’d try a stint at Wal-Mart and see how it compared with Barabara Ehrenreich’s experience in Nickel and Dimed. Pretty soon he had his own

handheld bar-code scanner which revealed the in-store stock and nearest warehouse stock of every item on the shelves, and its profit margin. At the branch where I worked, all the lowest-level employees were allowed this information and were encouraged to make individual decisions about inventory. One of the secrets to Wal-Mart’s success is that it delegates many judgment calls to the sales-floor level, where employees know first-hand what sells, what doesn’t, and (most important) what customers are asking for.

Somehow this doesn’t sound like President Obama’s new banking plan for America. From what we’ve heard so far, in President Obama’s America you’d better do what you are told. You’d better not be caught taking initiative in health care, in education, or in finance. President Obama in the White House, his courtiers in the agencies, and his barons in Congress will get to call the big shots in today’s America. And don’t you forget it.

Why even the president himself, last fall, was hesitant to get above his pay grade when the subject of abortion came up.

Back in the nineteenth century the business elite and the political elite agreed that the workers were best kept subservient and dependent. Today things are different. The business elite thinks that many judgments can be made at the lowest level. But the political elite thinks that everyone from the lower-level people on the line to the banking Masters of the Universe are clueless and can’t be expected to make day-to-day decisions about their work and their lives.

But who are the really clueless ones in America? If you ask me it was the politicians filling up the gas tank at Fannie and Freddie during the 1990s and flooring the monetary accelerator at the Fed in the early 2000s

Now President Obama believes that the politicians should be given more power to run the financial system in the 2010s. It seems clueless to me.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his and His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

Page Printed from: at March 24, 2009 – 04:58:52 PM EDT

More Government = Less Life


AMERICAN.COMA Magazine of Ideas
The Europe Syndrome and the Challenge to American Exceptionalism
By Charles Murray
Monday, March 16, 2009

Filed under: Big Ideas

America’s elites must once again fall in love with what makes the United States different.

The advent of the Obama administration brings this question before the nation: Do we want the United States to be like Europe? President Obama and his leading intellectual heroes are the American equivalent of Europe’s social democrats. There’s nothing sinister about that. They share an intellectually respectable view that Europe’s regulatory and social welfare systems are more progressive than America’s and advocate reforms that would make the American system more like the European system.

Not only are social democrats intellectually respectable, the European model has worked in many ways. I am delighted when I get a chance to go to Stockholm or Amsterdam, not to mention Rome or Paris. When I get there, the people don’t seem to be groaning under the yoke of an evil system. Quite the contrary. There’s a lot to like—a lot to love—about day-to-day life in Europe.

But the European model can’t continue to work much longer. Europe’s catastrophically low birth rates and soaring immigration from cultures with alien values will see to that.

So let me rephrase the question. If we could avoid Europe’s demographic problems, do we want the United States to be like Europe?

I argue for the answer “no,” but not for economic reasons. The European model has indeed created sclerotic economies and it would be a bad idea to imitate them. But I want to focus on another problem.

My argument is drawn from Federalist Paper No. 62, probably written by James Madison: “A good government implies two things: first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained.” Note the word: happiness. Not prosperity. Not security. Not equality. Happiness, which the Founders used in its Aristotelian sense of lasting and justified satisfaction with life as a whole.

I have two points to make. First, I will argue that the European model is fundamentally flawed because, despite its material successes, it is not suited to the way that human beings flourish—it does not conduce to Aristotelian happiness. Second, I will argue that 21st-century science will prove me right.


First, the problem with the European model, namely: It drains too much of the life from life. And that statement applies as much to the lives of janitors—even more to the lives of janitors—as it does to the lives of CEOs.

I start from this premise: A human life can have transcendent meaning, with transcendence defined either by one of the world’s great religions or one of the world’s great secular philosophies. If transcendence is too big a word, let me put it another way: I suspect that almost all of you agree that the phrase “a life well-lived” has meaning. That’s the phrase I’ll use from now on.

And since happiness is a word that gets thrown around too casually, the phrase I’ll use from now on is “deep satisfactions.” I’m talking about the kinds of things that we look back upon when we reach old age and let us decide that we can be proud of who we have been and what we have done. Or not.

To become a source of deep satisfaction, a human activity has to meet some stringent requirements. It has to have been important (we don’t get deep satisfaction from trivial things). You have to have put a lot of effort into it (hence the cliché “nothing worth having comes easily”). And you have to have been responsible for the consequences.

There aren’t many activities in life that can satisfy those three requirements. Having been a good parent? That qualifies. A good marriage? That qualifies. Having been a good neighbor and good friend to those whose lives intersected with yours? That qualifies. And having been really good at something—good at something that drew the most from your abilities? That qualifies. Let me put it formally: If we ask what are the institutions through which human beings achieve deep satisfactions in life, the answer is that there are just four: family, community, vocation, and faith. Two clarifications: “Community” can embrace people who are scattered geographically. “Vocation” can include avocations or causes.

It is not necessary for any individual to make use of all four institutions, nor do I array them in a hierarchy. I merely assert that these four are all there are. The stuff of life—the elemental events surrounding birth, death, raising children, fulfilling one’s personal potential, dealing with adversity, intimate relationships—coping with life as it exists around us in all its richness—occurs within those four institutions.

Seen in this light, the goal of social policy is to ensure that those institutions are robust and vital. And that’s what’s wrong with the European model. It doesn’t do that. It enfeebles every single one of them.

Put aside all the sophisticated ways of conceptualizing governmental functions and think of it in this simplistic way: Almost anything that government does in social policy can be characterized as taking some of the trouble out of things. Sometimes, taking the trouble out of things is a good idea. Having an effective police force takes some of the trouble out of walking home safely at night, and I’m glad it does.

The problem is this: Every time the government takes some of the trouble out of performing the functions of family, community, vocation, and faith, it also strips those institutions of some of their vitality—it drains some of the life from them. It’s inevitable. Families are not vital because the day-to-day tasks of raising children and being a good spouse are so much fun, but because the family has responsibility for doing important things that won’t get done unless the family does them. Communities are not vital because it’s so much fun to respond to our neighbors’ needs, but because the community has the responsibility for doing important things that won’t get done unless the community does them. Once that imperative has been met—family and community really do have the action—then an elaborate web of social norms, expectations, rewards, and punishments evolves over time that supports families and communities in performing their functions. When the government says it will take some of the trouble out of doing the things that families and communities evolved to do, it inevitably takes some of the action away from families and communities, and the web frays, and eventually disintegrates.

If we knew that leaving these functions in the hands of families and communities led to legions of neglected children and neglected neighbors, and taking them away from families and communities led to happy children and happy neighbors, then it would be possible to say that the cost is worth it. But that’s not what happened when the U.S. welfare state expanded. We have seen growing legions of children raised in unimaginably awful circumstances, not because of material poverty but because of dysfunctional families, and the collapse of functioning neighborhoods into Hobbesian all-against-all free-fire zones.

Meanwhile, we have exacted costs that are seldom considered but are hugely important. Earlier, I said that the sources of deep satisfactions are the same for janitors as for CEOs, and I also said that people need to do important things with their lives. When the government takes the trouble out of being a spouse and parent, it doesn’t affect the sources of deep satisfaction for the CEO. Rather, it makes life difficult for the janitor. A man who is holding down a menial job and thereby supporting a wife and children is doing something authentically important with his life. He should take deep satisfaction from that, and be praised by his community for doing so. Think of all the phrases we used to have for it: “He is a man who pulls his own weight.” “He’s a good provider.” If that same man lives under a system that says that the children of the woman he sleeps with will be taken care of whether or not he contributes, then that status goes away. I am not describing some theoretical outcome. I am describing American neighborhoods where, once, working at a menial job to provide for his family made a man proud and gave him status in his community, and where now it doesn’t. I could give a half dozen other examples. Taking the trouble out of the stuff of life strips people—already has stripped people—of major ways in which human beings look back on their lives and say, “I made a difference.”

I have been making a number of claims with no data. The data exist. I could document the role of the welfare state in destroying the family in low-income communities. I could cite extensive quantitative evidence of decline in civic engagement and document the displacement effect that government intervention has had on civic engagement. But such evidence focuses on those near the bottom of society where the American welfare state has been most intrusive. If we want to know where America as a whole is headed—its destination—we should look to Europe.

Drive through rural Sweden, as I did a few years ago. In every town was a beautiful Lutheran church, freshly painted, on meticulously tended grounds, all subsidized by the Swedish government. And the churches are empty. Including on Sundays. Scandinavia and Western Europe pride themselves on their “child-friendly” policies, providing generous child allowances, free day-care centers, and long maternity leaves. Those same countries have fertility rates far below replacement and plunging marriage rates. Those same countries are ones in which jobs are most carefully protected by government regulation and mandated benefits are most lavish. And they, with only a few exceptions, are countries where work is most often seen as a necessary evil, least often seen as a vocation, and where the proportions of people who say they love their jobs are the lowest.

What’s happening? Call it the Europe syndrome. Last April I had occasion to speak in Zurich, where I made some of these same points. After the speech, a few of the twenty-something members of the audience approached and said plainly that the phrase “a life well-lived” did not have meaning for them. They were having a great time with their current sex partner and new BMW and the vacation home in Majorca, and saw no voids in their lives that needed filling.

It was fascinating to hear it said to my face, but not surprising. It conformed to both journalistic and scholarly accounts of a spreading European mentality. Let me emphasize “spreading.” I’m not talking about all Europeans, by any means. That mentality goes something like this: Human beings are a collection of chemicals that activate and, after a period of time, deactivate. The purpose of life is to while away the intervening time as pleasantly as possible.

If that’s the purpose of life, then work is not a vocation, but something that interferes with the higher good of leisure. If that’s the purpose of life, why have a child, when children are so much trouble—and, after all, what good are they, really? If that’s the purpose of life, why spend it worrying about neighbors? If that’s the purpose of life, what could possibly be the attraction of a religion that says otherwise?

The same self-absorption in whiling away life as pleasantly as possible explains why Europe has become a continent that no longer celebrates greatness. When life is a matter of whiling away the time, the concept of greatness is irritating and threatening. What explains Europe’s military impotence? I am surely simplifying, but this has to be part of it: If the purpose of life is to while away the time as pleasantly as possible, what can be worth dying for?

I stand in awe of Europe’s past. Which makes Europe’s present all the more dispiriting. And should make its present something that concentrates our minds wonderfully, for every element of the Europe Syndrome is infiltrating American life as well.

We are seeing that infiltration appear most obviously among those who are most openly attached to the European model—namely, America’s social democrats, heavily represented in university faculties and the most fashionable neighborhoods of our great cities. We know from databases such as the General Social Survey that among those who self-identify as liberal or extremely liberal, secularism is close to European levels. Birth rates are close to European levels. Charitable giving is close to European levels. There is every reason to believe that when Americans embrace the European model, they begin to behave like Europeans.


This is all pretty depressing for people who do not embrace the European model, because it looks like the train has left the station. The European model provides the intellectual framework for the social policies of the triumphant Democratic Party, and it faces no credible opposition from Republican politicians.

And yet there is reason for strategic optimism, and that leads to the second point I want to make tonight: Critics of the European model are about to get a lot of new firepower. Not only is the European model inimical to human flourishing, 21st-century science is going to explain why. We who think that the Founders were right about the relationship of government to human happiness will have an opening over the course of the next few decades to make our case.

The reason is a tidal change in our scientific understanding of what makes human beings tick. It will spill over into every crevice of political and cultural life. Harvard’s Edward O. Wilson anticipated what is to come in a book entitled Consilience. As the 21st century progresses, he argued, the social sciences are increasingly going to be shaped by the findings of biology; specifically, the findings of the neuroscientists and the geneticists.

What are they finding? I’m afraid that I don’t have anything to report that you will find shocking. For example, science is proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that males and females respond differently to babies. You heard it here first. The specific findings aren’t so important at this point—we are just at the beginning of a very steep learning curve. Rather, it is the tendency of the findings that lets us predict with some confidence the broad outlines of what the future will bring, and they offer nothing but bad news for social democrats.

Two premises about human beings are at the heart of the social democratic agenda: What I will label “the equality premise” and “the New Man premise.”

The equality premise says that, in a fair society, different groups of people—men and women, blacks and whites, straights and gays, the children of poor people and the children of rich people—will naturally have the same distributions of outcomes in life—the same mean income, the same mean educational attainment, the same proportions who become janitors and CEOs. When that doesn’t happen, it is because of bad human behavior and an unfair society. For the last 40 years, this premise has justified thousands of pages of government regulations and legislation that has reached into everything from the paperwork required to fire someone to the funding of high school wrestling teams. Everything that we associate with the phrase “politically correct” eventually comes back to the equality premise. Every form of affirmative action derives from it. Much of the Democratic Party’s proposed domestic legislation assumes that it is true.

Within a decade, no one will try to defend the equality premise. All sorts of groups will be known to differ in qualities that affect what professions they choose, how much money they make, and how they live their lives in all sorts of ways. Gender differences will be first, because the growth in knowledge about the ways that men and women are different is growing by far the most rapidly. I’m betting that the Harvard faculty of the year 2020 will look back on the Larry Summers affair in the same way that they think about the Scopes trial—the enlightened versus the benighted—and will have achieved complete amnesia about their own formerly benighted opinions.

There is no reason to fear this new knowledge. Differences among groups will cut in many different directions, and everybody will be able to weight the differences so that their group’s advantages turn out to be the most important to them. Liberals will not be obliged to give up their concerns about systemic unfairnesses. But groups of people will turn out to be different from each other, on average, and those differences will also produce group differences in outcomes in life, on average, that everyone knows are not the product of discrimination and inadequate government regulation.

And a void will have developed in the moral universe of the Left. If social policy cannot be built on the premise that group differences must be eliminated, what can it be built upon? It can be built upon the restoration of the premise that used to be part of the warp and woof of American idealism: people must be treated as individuals. The success of social policy is to be measured not by equality of outcomes for groups, but by open, abundant opportunity for individuals. It is to be measured by the freedom of individuals, acting upon their personal abilities, aspirations, and values, to seek the kind of life that best suits them.

The second bedrock premise of the social democratic agenda is what I call the New Man premise, borrowing the old Communist claim that it would create a “New Man” by remaking human nature. This premise says that human beings are malleable through the right government interventions.

The second tendency of the new findings of biology will be to show that the New Man premise is nonsense. Human nature tightly constrains what is politically or culturally possible. More than that, the new findings will broadly confirm that human beings are pretty much the way that wise human observers have thought for thousands of years, and that is going to be wonderful news for those of us who are already basing our policy analyses on that assumption.

The effects on the policy debate are going to be sweeping. Let me give you a specific example. For many years, I have been among those who argue that the growth in births to unmarried women has been a social catastrophe—the single most important driving force behind the growth of the underclass. But while I and other scholars have been able to prove that other family structures have not worked as well as the traditional family, I cannot prove that alternatives could not work as well, and so the social democrats keep coming up with the next new ingenious program that will compensate for the absence of fathers.

Over the next few decades, advances in evolutionary psychology are going to be conjoined with advances in genetic understanding and they will lead to a scientific consensus that goes something like this: There are genetic reasons, rooted in the mechanisms of human evolution, that little boys who grow up in neighborhoods without married fathers tend to reach adolescence unsocialized to norms of behavior that they will need to stay out of prison and hold jobs. These same reasons explain why child abuse is, and always will be, concentrated among family structures in which the live-in male is not the married biological father. And these same reasons explain why society’s attempts to compensate for the lack of married biological fathers don’t work and will never work.

Once again, there’s no reason to be frightened of this new knowledge. We will still be able to acknowledge that many single women do a wonderful job of raising their children. Social democrats will simply have to stop making glib claims that the traditional family is just one of many equally valid alternatives. They will have to acknowledge that the traditional family plays a special, indispensable role in human flourishing and that social policy must be based on that truth. The same concrete effects of the new knowledge will make us rethink every domain in which the central government has imposed its judgment on how people ought to live their lives—in schools, workplaces, the courts, social services, as well as the family. And that will make the job of people like me much easier.

But the real effect is going to be much more profound than making my job easier. The 20th century was a very strange century, riddled from beginning to end with toxic political movements and nutty ideas. For some years a metaphor has been stuck in my mind: the 20th century was the adolescence of Homo sapiens. Nineteenth-century science, from Darwin to Freud, offered a series of body blows to ways of thinking about human beings and human lives that had prevailed since the dawn of civilization. Humans, just like adolescents, were deprived of some of the comforting simplicities of childhood and exposed to more complex knowledge about the world. And 20th-century intellectuals reacted precisely the way that adolescents react when they think they have discovered Mom and Dad are hopelessly out of date. They think that the grown-ups are wrong about everything. In the case of 20th-century intellectuals, it was as if they thought that if Darwin was right about evolution, then Aquinas is no longer worth reading; that if Freud was right about the unconscious mind, then Nicomachean Ethics had nothing to teach us.

The nice thing about adolescence is that it is temporary, and, when it passes, people discover that their parents were smarter than they thought. I think that may be happening with the advent of the new century, as postmodernist answers to solemn questions about human existence start to wear thin—we’re growing out of adolescence. The kinds of scientific advances in understanding human nature are going to accelerate that process. All of us who deal in social policy will be thinking less like adolescents, entranced with the most titillating new idea, and thinking more like grown-ups.


That will not get rid of the slippery slope that America is sliding down toward the European model. For that, this new raw material for reform—namely, a lot more people thinking like grown-ups—must be translated into a kind of political Great Awakening among America’s elites.

I use the phrase “Great Awakening” to evoke a particular kind of event. American history has seen three religious revivals known as Great Awakenings (some say four). They were not dispassionate, polite reconsiderations of opinions. They were renewals of faith, felt in the gut.

I use the word “elites” to talk about the small minority of the population that has disproportionate influence over the culture, economy, and governance of the country. I realize that to use that word makes many Americans uncomfortable. But every society since the advent of agriculture has had elites. So does the United States. Broadly defined, America’s elites comprise several million people; narrowly defined, they amount to a few tens of thousands.

When I say that something akin to a political Great Awakening is required among America’s elites, what I mean is that America’s elites have to ask themselves how much they really do value what has made America exceptional, and what they are willing to do to preserve it.

American exceptionalism is not just something that Americans claim for themselves. Historically, Americans have been different as a people, even peculiar, and everyone around the world has recognized it. I’m thinking of qualities such as American optimism even when there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for it. That’s quite uncommon among the peoples of the world. There is the striking lack of class envy in America—by and large, Americans celebrate others’ success instead of resenting it. That’s just about unique, certainly compared to European countries, and something that drives European intellectuals crazy. And then there is perhaps the most important symptom of all, the signature of American exceptionalism—the assumption by most Americans that they are in control of their own destinies. It is hard to think of a more inspiriting quality for a population to possess, and the American population still possesses it to an astonishing degree. No other country comes close.

Underlying these symptoms of American exceptionalism are the underlying exceptional dynamics of American life. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote a famous book describing the nature of that more fundamental exceptionalism back in the 1830s. He found American life characterized by two apparently conflicting themes. The first was the passion with which Americans pursued their individual interests, and made no bones about it—that’s what America was all about, they kept telling Tocqueville. But at the same time, Tocqueville kept coming up against this phenomenal American passion for forming associations to deal with every conceivable problem, voluntarily taking up public affairs, and tending to the needs of their communities. How could this be? Because, Americans told Tocqueville, there’s no conflict. “In the United States,” Tocqueville writes, “hardly anybody talks of the beauty of virtue…. They do not deny that every man may follow his own interest; but they endeavor to prove that it is the interest of every man to be virtuous.” And then he concludes, “I shall not here enter into the reasons they allege…. Suffice it to say, they have convinced their fellow countrymen.”

The exceptionalism has not been a figment of anyone’s imagination, and it has been wonderful. But it isn’t something in the water that has made us that way. It comes from the cultural capital generated by the system that the Founders laid down, a system that says people must be free to live life as they see fit and to be responsible for the consequences of their actions; that it is not the government’s job to protect people from themselves; that it is not the government’s job to stage-manage how people interact with each other. Discard the system that created the cultural capital, and the qualities we love about Americans can go away. In some circles, they are going away.

Why do I focus on the elites in urging a Great Awakening? Because my sense is that the instincts of middle America remain distinctively American. When I visit the small Iowa town where I grew up in the 1950s, I don’t get a sense that community life has changed all that much since then, and I wonder if it has changed all that much in the working class neighborhoods of Brooklyn or Queens. When I examine the polling data about the values that most Americans prize, not a lot has changed. And while I worry about uncontrolled illegal immigration, I’ve got to say that every immigrant I actually encounter seems as American as apple pie.

The center still holds. It’s the bottom and top of American society where we have a problem. And since it’s the top that has such decisive influence on American culture, economy, and governance, I focus on it. The fact is that American elites have increasingly been withdrawing from American life. It’s not a partisan phenomenon. The elites of all political stripes have increasingly withdrawn to gated communities—“gated” literally or figuratively—where they never interact at an intimate level with people not of their own socioeconomic class.

Haven’t the elites always done this? Not like today. A hundred years ago, the wealth necessary to withdraw was confined to a much smaller percentage of the elites than now. Workplaces where the elites made their livings were much more variegated a hundred years ago than today’s highly specialized workplaces.

Perhaps the most important difference is that, not so long ago, the overwhelming majority of the elites in each generation were drawn from the children of farmers, shopkeepers, and factory workers—and could still remember those worlds after they left them. Over the last half century, it can be demonstrated empirically that the new generation of elites have increasingly spent their entire lives in the upper-middle-class bubble, never even having seen a factory floor, let alone worked on one, never having gone to a grocery store and bought the cheap ketchup instead of the expensive ketchup to meet a budget, never having had a boring job where their feet hurt at the end of the day, and never having had a close friend who hadn’t gotten at least 600 on her SAT verbal. There’s nobody to blame for any of this. These are the natural consequences of successful people looking for pleasant places to live and trying to do the best thing for their children.

But the fact remains: It is the elites who are increasingly separated from the America over which they have so much influence. That is not the America that Tocqueville saw. It is not an America that can remain America.

I am not suggesting that America’s elites sacrifice their own self-interest for everybody else. That would be really un-American. I just want to accelerate a rediscovery of what that self-interest is. Age-old human wisdom has understood that a life well-lived requires engagement with those around us. That is reality, not idealism. It is appropriate to think that a political Great Awakening among the elites can arise in part from the renewed understanding that it can be pleasant to lead a glossy life, but it is ultimately more fun to lead a textured life, and to be in the midst of others who are leading textured lives.

What it comes down to is that America’s elites must once again fall in love again with what makes America different. I am not being theoretical. The possibility that irreversible damage will be done to the American project over the next few years is real. The drift toward the European model can be slowed by piecemeal victories on specific items of legislation, but only slowed. It is going to be stopped only when we are all talking again about why America is exceptional, and why it is so important that America remain exceptional. That requires once again seeing the American project for what it is: a different way for people to live together, unique among the nations of the earth, and immeasurably precious.

Charles Murray is the W. H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. This essay is adapted from The 2009 Irving Kristol Lecture delivered in Washington, D.C. on March 11, 2009.

Obama’s essence

March 16, 2009
Obama’s essence
By James Lewis

Undisciplined. Disorganized. Overreaching. Dangerous. Even the Democrats are taking off the upside-down plastic buckets they’ve kept over their heads, like David Broder, David Ignatius, and even David Brooks, the house conservative at the NYT, who keeps trying to hug that dangerous median strip on the superhighway of life, dancing and dodging between all the whizzing cars and trucks.

But the commentariat still doesn’t understand that Obama is the worst control freak to occupy high office in the history of the United States. Obama is the Nanny to end all Nannies. Socialism is not a political philosophy for him. It’s the other way around. Control freakery is Obama’s basic personality. Socialism is just his way of making it look good to his buds on the Left.

It’s called obsessive-compulsive personality, and if he can get himself a good doctor he might be able to get a pill for it. But he doesn’t see it as a problem for one Barack (Barry) Soetoro Obama, the Reinvented Man. He sees it as everybody else’s problem, including the stock market, high-paid executives, people who objected to his weird appointee’s weird choice of Chas Freeman for a top intelligence post, and just about everybody else who doesn’t march in lockstep with his frantic fantasy life. We all just need a leetle more controlling and he’ll be just a titch happier with us.

Unfortunately for him this is the most naturally anarchic country in the world: What do you think Rock ‘n Roll is about, not to mention Gangsta Rap? It’s not a Mozart minuet. It’s the drumbeat of rebellion that has run this country since 1776.

Obama is oddly foreign in that respect. He’s more like Kim Jong-Il or Robert Mugabe, or Saddam Hussein for that matter. Control. He is profoundly afraid of losing it, and has learned to project total control in his very persona. That’s what earned him the faith of the liberal masses. The trouble is that nobody else will take orders! No wonder he doesn’t like Israel, a country that is as wildly anarchic as America. No wonder he admires the disciplined Swedes, and gave his first big speech at the Berlin Prussian victory monument. Citizens of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your freedom.

The reason why this White House is so chaotic and can’t even staff the Treasury at a time of wild economic turmoil is that Obama needs to micromanage it all. That’s why he’s got six Secretaries of State. Hillary is just a figurehead. He’s got Joe Biden, who’s not all that together himself, he’s got his special reps to the Middle East and Af-Pakistan, he’s got his letter to Khamenei in Iran, he wrote his own letter to Russia’s prime minister (which was contemptuously dissed in public), he’s got his “Up yours, British Imperialist!” meeting with Gordon Brown, followed by some mysterious “high State Department source” telling the Brits they’re no different from all the other 200 countries in the world, and on and on. FDR famously played off his bureaucrats against each other to keep more power in his own hands. Obama is trying the same thing, except that he can’t resist the urge to meddle and micromanage. No wonder Warren Buffett is getting freaked out watching it.

Take something as small as Obama’s need for a word-for-word script, just to answer questions at press conferences. His teleprompter dependency is simply unprecedented. Any Republican president would be laughed out of the room with that kind of hand-holding from Axelrod, or Bill Ayers, or Michelle, or whoever is dictating the words behind the scenes. No wonder Obama is considered eloquent. Like a talking head on TV he constantly needs his writers to feed him the words, so he can pay total attention to his acting style. But even his acting is degenerating in front of our eyes: Obama is turning Obombastama. You can tell from the tone of hysteria creeping into his operatic baritone. Maybe they need to switch that reverb circuit back on? That should impress all the lickspittles of the White House press.

The paradox of it all is that the free market will have to get us out of this mess, simply because whatever policies Obama conjures up from day to day are contradictory. You can’t spend a trillion plus on the phony stimulus bill, and then expect to spend more and more trillions of Monopoly money on your liberal wish list: universal healthcare, carbon trading schemes, declaring CO2 to be a poison. “Pardon me for breathing,” as New Yorkers used to say. That was a joke. Soon breathing out CO2 may require a carbon trading license from Carol Browner at the EPA. Not a joke. As for the other end, methane is next.

With Obama running around in all directions at the same time, the market will find ways to get around overregulation. It usually does. The old military maxim is “order, counter-order, disorder.” Another useful rule is “never give a command that won’t be obeyed.” But that’s precisely what the Big O keeps doing. It’s an odd way to liberate those markets that cannot be controlled — which is most of them — but what the hell, it’s a libertarian dream.

And when the economy recovers in spite of all that control freakery, Obama will take the credit. In a way, he might deserve it.
Page Printed from: at March 16, 2009 – 08:38:23 PM EDT

What does our ignorance of science portend?

Exerpt below from:

Only 53% of adults know how long it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun.
Only 59% of adults know that the earliest humans and dinosaurs did not live at the same time.
Only 47% of adults can roughly approximate the percent of the Earth’s surface that is covered with water.*
Only 21% of adults answered all three questions correctly.

From the French Revolution to today’s Left Wing of the Democratic Party, the aim is government for the masses, not by them. The authoritarian and elitist leanings in the present administration are unmistakable evidence of this sad history of intellectual self-deception.

March 15, 2009
My Socialist Past
By Jeffrey Folks

“Socialism, a luxury of the wealthy. To the poor, a suicidal creed …”
–David Hare, A Map of the World
Anyone who has lived inside the demoralized, unproductive, gray prison of a communist state, as I did in the mid-1980s, knows to what depths of impoverishment the egalitarian fantasies of socialism inevitably lead….[read the bulk of the article omitted here]
Every communist regime in history has begun its rule with sweeping confiscations of private wealth and widespread nationalization of industry. How does this differ from Democratic proposals for government regulation and confiscation within the health care, financial services, and energy industries, or from their plan eventually to institute a four trillion dollar tax increase — the result of bloated stimulus programs and rollback of President Bush’s tax cuts?

If the Democrats have their way, America will become the world’s largest socialist economy at the very moment when the rest of the world, even the welfare states of western Europe, have begun to repudiate socialism. Yet evidence of America’s mounting ideological capitulation is everywhere. Suspicion of our “giant corporations” is a frequent refrain of the political Left, as if giant government, which produces nothing and preys upon the earnings of the public, were not menacing in a way that healthy corporations never are.

Obama’s tirades against free enterprise, aimed one day at offending CEOs and another at whole industries or free market philosophies, witness to the true character of this president. His hostility to corporate profits, or profits earned as a result of any business or individual endeavor, reveals a warped sense of reality. Imprinted somewhere on his mind is the pernicious notion that no enterprise, no behavior, no expression unregulated by the state can be permitted to exist.

Perhaps Mr. Obama has not read so far into our founding documents as to be familiar with Amendment IX, which states that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” It would appear that our president wishes all rights not now held by government to be denied and disparaged, and, beyond that, to be seized. This is not the American Dream: it is a noxious and corrupt conception of the purposes of government, and one that can be traced directly to the perverse theories of Karl Marx.

All socialist experiments, from the high-minded 19th-century utopianism of Robert Owen or Charles Fourier to the vicious authoritarian nightmare of Mao Tse-tung or Pol Pot, have been the product of middle- or upper-class fantasies, the underlying feature of which is the megalomaniac intention to “save” the working class from its own bad habits. Paul Johnson observed in his superb book, Intellectuals, that saving the working classes from themselves has been the ruinous ambition of middle- and upper-class intellectuals for over two hundred years, and the result has in every case been calamitous. For the poor, socialism is indeed “a ruinous creed.”

Obama absurdly blames the financial crisis on energy, health care and education


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Obama’s ‘Big Bang’ Agenda
Charles Krauthammer
Friday, March 06, 2009

WASHINGTON — Forget the pork. Forget the waste. Forget the 8,570 earmarks in a bill supported by a president who poses as the scourge of earmarks. Forget the “$2 trillion dollars in savings” that “we have already identified,” $1.6 trillion of which President Obama’s budget director later admits is the “savings” of not continuing the surge in Iraq until 2019 — 11 years after George Bush ended it, and eight years after even Bush would have had us out of Iraq completely.

Forget all of this. This is run-of-the-mill budget trickery. True, Obama’s tricks come festooned with strings of zeros tacked onto the end. But that’s a matter of scale, not principle.

All presidents do that. But few undertake the kind of brazen deception at the heart of Obama’s radically transformative economic plan, a rhetorical sleight of hand so smoothly offered that few noticed.

The logic of Obama’s address to Congress went like this:

“Our economy did not fall into decline overnight,” he averred. Indeed, it all began before the housing crisis. What did we do wrong? We are paying for past sins in three principal areas: energy, health care, and education — importing too much oil and not finding new sources of energy (as in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf?), not reforming health care, and tolerating too many bad schools.

The “day of reckoning” has now arrived. And because “it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we’ll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament,” Obama has come to redeem us with his far-seeing program of universal, heavily nationalized health care; a cap-and-trade tax on energy; and a major federalization of education with universal access to college as the goal.

Amazing. As an explanation of our current economic difficulties, this is total fantasy. As a cure for rapidly growing joblessness, a massive destruction of wealth, a deepening worldwide recession, this is perhaps the greatest non sequitur ever foisted upon the American people.

At the very center of our economic near-depression is a credit bubble, a housing collapse and a systemic failure of the entire banking system. One can come up with a host of causes: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed by Washington (and greed) into improvident loans, corrupted bond-ratings agencies, insufficient regulation of new and exotic debt instruments, the easy money policy of Alan Greenspan’s Fed, irresponsible bankers pushing (and then unloading in packaged loan instruments) highly dubious mortgages, greedy house-flippers, deceitful homebuyers.

The list is long. But the list of causes of the collapse of the financial system does not include the absence of universal health care, let alone of computerized medical records. Nor the absence of an industry-killing cap-and-trade carbon levy. Nor the lack of college graduates. Indeed, one could perversely make the case that, if anything, the proliferation of overeducated, Gucci-wearing, smart-ass MBAs inventing ever more sophisticated and opaque mathematical models and debt instruments helped get us into this credit catastrophe in the first place.

And yet with our financial house on fire, Obama makes clear both in his speech and his budget that the essence of his presidency will be the transformation of health care, education and energy. Four months after winning the election, six weeks after his swearing in, Obama has yet to unveil a plan to deal with the banking crisis.

What’s going on? “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” said Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. “This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.”

Things. Now we know what they are. The markets’ recent precipitous decline is a reaction not just to the absence of any plausible bank rescue plan, but also to the suspicion that Obama sees the continuing financial crisis as usefully creating the psychological conditions — the sense of crisis bordering on fear-itself panic — for enacting his “Big Bang” agenda to federalize and/or socialize health care, education and energy, the commanding heights of post-industrial society.

Clever politics, but intellectually dishonest to the core. Health, education and energy — worthy and weighty as they may be — are not the cause of our financial collapse. And they are not the cure. The fraudulent claim that they are both cause and cure is the rhetorical device by which an ambitious president intends to enact the most radical agenda of social transformation seen in our lifetime.

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