The Bum that Wants to Do Wonderful Things

…with your money.

From Investors Business Daily:

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Monday his parents would never have thought their son would end up in the Senate and running for president. No kidding. He was a ne’er-do-well into his late 30s.

“It’s certainly something that I don’t think they ever believed would’ve happened,” the unabashed socialist remarked during CNN’s Democratic town hall forum, as polls show him taking the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire.

He explained his family couldn’t imagine his “success,” because “my brother and I and Mom and Dad grew up in a three-and-a-half-room rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn, and we never had a whole lot of money.”

It wasn’t as bad as he says. His family managed to send him to the University of Chicago. Despite a prestigious degree, however, Sanders failed to earn a living, even as an adult. It took him 40 years to collect his first steady paycheck — and it was a government check.

“I never had any money my entire life,” Sanders told Vermont public TV in 1985, after settling into his first real job as mayor of Burlington.

Sanders spent most of his life as an angry radical and agitator who never accomplished much of anything. And yet now he thinks he deserves the power to run your life and your finances — “We will raise taxes;” he confirmed Monday, “yes, we will.”

One of his first jobs was registering people for food stamps, and it was all downhill from there.

Sanders took his first bride to live in a maple sugar shack with a dirt floor, and she soon left him. Penniless, he went on unemployment. Then he had a child out of wedlock. Desperate, he tried carpentry but could barely sink a nail. “He was a shi**y carpenter,” a friend told Politico Magazine. “His carpentry was not going to support him, and didn’t.”

Then he tried his hand freelancing for leftist rags, writing about “masturbation and rape” and other crudities for $50 a story. He drove around in a rusted-out, Bondo-covered VW bug with no working windshield wipers. Friends said he was “always poor” and his “electricity was turned off a lot.” They described him as a slob who kept a messy apartment — and this is what his friends had to say about him.

The only thing he was good at was talking … non-stop … about socialism and how the rich were ripping everybody off. “The whole quality of life in America is based on greed,” the bitter layabout said. “I believe in the redistribution of wealth in this nation.”

So he tried politics, starting his own socialist party. Four times he ran for Vermont public office, and four times he lost — badly. He never attracted more than single-digit support — even in the People’s Republic of Vermont. In his 1971 bid for U.S. Senate, the local press said the 30-year-old “Sanders describes himself as a carpenter who has worked with ‘disturbed children.’ ” In other words, a real winner.

He finally wormed his way into the Senate in 2006, where he still ranks as one of the poorest members of Congress. Save for a municipal pension, Sanders lists no assets in his name. All the assets provided in his financial disclosure form are his second wife’s. He does, however, have as much as $65,000 in credit-card debt.

Sure, Sanders may not be a hypocrite, but this is nothing to brag about. His worthless background contrasts sharply with the successful careers of other “outsiders” in the race for the White House, including a billionaire developer, a world-renowned neurosurgeon and a Fortune 500 CEO.

The choice in this election is shaping up to be a very clear one. It will likely boil down to a battle between those who create and produce wealth, and those who take it and redistribute it.

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Obama Wants to Do Wonderful Things

…with more of your money.

From Kevin D. Williamson:

If you’re enjoying the low gasoline prices currently on offer throughout most of the country, some bad news: The Obama administration wants to levy a 31 percent tax on the stuff out of which gasoline is made.

But, not to fear: The tax will be paid by oil companies, which are big and mean and nasty and would never, ever, ever pass on the cost to a nice guy like you.

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The Most Nauseating Display in American Public Life

From Kevin D. Williamson:

The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.

It’s the most nauseating display in American public life.

[…]

The State of the Union has not always been a grotesque spectacle. George Washington delivered his briefing in person, but he was dealing with a self-respecting Congress that understood itself to be his equal in government. When he wanted the Senate’s advice and consent for an Indian treaty, he visited the chamber personally to seek it — and was so put off by the questioning and debate to which he was subjected that he vowed never to put himself through that again. It was an excellent idea. Thomas Jefferson, ever watchful against monarchical pretensions in the federal apparatus, discontinued the practice of delivering the State of the Union in person before Congress, instead submitting a written report. For a blessed century, Jefferson’s example was followed, and, despite civil war and the occasional financial panic, the nation thrived without an ersatz Caesar to rule over it.

It will come as no surprise that the imperial model was reinstated by Woodrow Wilson, Princeton’s answer to Benito Mussolini and the most dangerous man ever elected to the American presidency, a would-be dictator who attempted to criminalize the act of criticizing the state, dismissed the very idea of individual rights as “a lot of nonsense,” and described his vision of the presidency as effectively unlimited (“The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can”). A big man needs a big show, and it is to Wilson’s totalitarian tastes that we owe the modern pageant.

The next Republican president should remember why his party is called the Republican party and put a stop to this.

The State of the Union is only one example of the deepening, terrifying cult of the state that has taken root here. Many heads of state — and some royals, for that matter — fly on commercial aircraft. Presidents of the Swiss federation and members of the federal council receive . . . an unlimited train pass. They have occasional access to a Cessna maintained by the air force, but are known to use mass transit — just like the people they are elected to represent. An American president stages a Roman triumph every time he heads out for a round of golf. The president’s household costs well more than $1 billion annually to operate. The president’s visage is more ubiquitous than was Vladimir Lenin’s in his prime, his reach Alexandrian, his sense of immortality (they call it “legacy”) pharaonic. Washington has become a deeply weird and alien place, a Renaissance court with armored sedans and hundred-million-dollar paydays.

It’s expensive maintaining an imperial class, but money isn’t really the object here, and neither is the current occupant of the White House, unlikeable as he is. Whether it’s Barack Obama or some subsequent pathological megalomaniac, Republican or Democrat, the increasingly ceremonial and quasi-religious aspect of the presidency is unseemly. It is profane. It is unbecoming of us as a people, and it has transformed the presidency into an office that can be truly attractive only to men who are unfit to hold it.

George Washington showed the world that men do not need a king. We, his heirs, have allowed the coronation of something much worse.

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Showman-in-Chief

From Thomas Sowell:

Those who have been marveling at Donald Trump’s political showmanship were given a reminder of who is the top showman of them all, when President Barack Obama went on television to make a pitch for his unilateral actions to restrict gun sales and make a more general case for tighter gun control laws.

It was beautifully choreographed, like a great ballet, and performed with consummate skill and understated eloquence. First of all, the scene was set with a room full of people who had lost loved ones to gun violence. A father whose son had been gunned down made a long introduction before the president showed up, walked down the aisle and up on to the stage to growing applause.

As political theater, it put Donald Trump’s rantings in the shade.

As for the substance of what Obama said, there was very little substance, and much of it false, but one of the signs of great artistry was that the presentation overshadowed the substance.

None of the things proposed by the president is likely to reduce gun violence. Like other restrictions on people’s ability to defend themselves, or to deter attacks by showing that they are armed, these new restrictions can cost more lives on net balance. The most we can hope for is that the effects of the new Obama-created rules will be nil, rather than harmful.

Like most other gun control advocates, President Obama invoked scenes of mass shootings, as if what he is proposing would have prevented those tragedies. But, almost invariably, mass shootings occur in gun-free settings. Yet gun control zealots seem determined to create more gun-free settings.

How often have supposedly mentally unbalanced shooters opened fire at a meeting of the National Rifle Association? They are apparently not that mentally unbalanced. They pick places where people are not likely to shoot back.

A mass shooting at a movie theater a few years ago took place at a theater farther away from where the shooter lived than other theaters in the area that were showing the very same movie. The difference was that this theater had advertised that it was a gun-free zone.

Who is more mentally unbalanced, those who are doing the shooting or those who refuse to examine the facts about what kinds of places attract such shooters? Schools and religious institutions are sitting ducks, and the shootings there have gone on until someone else with a gun showed up on the scene. That is what puts an end to the carnage, not gun control laws.

People who are prepared to defy the laws against murder are not very likely to be stopped by laws against guns. Only law-abiding citizens are likely to be stopped by gun control laws, and to become sitting ducks.

As for facts and statistics, the only ones likely to be mentioned by gun control zealots, including the media, are those on how many people were killed by guns. How many lives were saved by guns will never make it through the ideological filters of the media, the political establishment or our educational institutions.

Yet factual data on how many threats or attacks were deterred in a given year by displaying a firearm have long been available. Seldom is it necessary to actually pull the trigger to get some thug or criminal to back off and go elsewhere, often in some haste.

Are the only lives that matter those that are lost, usually because there is no gun immediately available to protect them, but not the lives saved because they did have a gun at hand to protect them?

Gun control zealots seem especially opposed to people being allowed to carry their guns concealed. But concealed weapons protect not only those who carry them, but also to some extent those who do not, because criminals have no way of knowing in advance who does and does not have a gun.

Muggings and rapes become much more dangerous activities for criminals where many law-abiding people are allowed to carry concealed guns. It can take a lot of the fun out of being a thug.

President Obama said that we are the only “advanced” nation with so much gun violence. But there are a number of countries with higher murder rates than ours and stronger gun control laws. But that leaves the definition of “advanced” to Obama — and makes for clever political theater.

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Conservative Tongue Piercers

From Bret Stephens:

Dear fellow conservatives:

Let us now pledge to elect Hillary Clinton as the 45th president of the United States.

Let’s skip the petty dramas of primaries and caucuses, the debate histrionics, the sour spectacle of the convention in Cleveland. Let’s fast-forward past that sinking October feeling when we belatedly realize we’re going to lose—and lose badly.

Let’s move straight to that first Tuesday in November, when we grimly pull the lever for the candidate who has passed all the Conservative Purity Tests (CPTs), meaning we’ve upheld the honor of our politically hopeless cause. Let’s stop pretending we want to be governed by someone we agree with much of the time, when we can have the easy and total satisfaction of a president we can loathe and revile all the time.

Let’s do this because it’s what we want. Maybe secretly, maybe unconsciously, but desperately. We want four—and probably eight—more years of cable-news neuralgia. We want to drive ourselves to work as Mark Levin or Laura Ingraham scratch our ideological itches until they bleed a little. We want the refiner’s fire that is our righteous indignation at a country we claim no longer to recognize—ruled by impostors and overrun by foreigners.

We also want to turn the Republican Party into a gated community. So much nicer that way. If the lesson of Mitt Romney’s predictable loss in 2012 was that it’s bad politics to tell America’s fastest-growing ethnic group that some of their relatives should self-deport, or to castigate 47% of the country as a bunch of moochers—well, so what? Abraham Lincoln once said “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.” What. Ever. Now the party of Lincoln has as its front-runner an insult machine whose political business is to tell Mexicans, Muslims, physically impaired journalists, astute Jewish negotiators and others who cross his sullen gaze that he has no use for them or their political correctness.

And while we’re building a wall around our party, let’s also take the opportunity to throw out a few impostors in our midst. Like that hack, George Will. Or John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, Jeb Bush and every other Republican In Name Only. Or Marco Rubio, who didn’t chicken out on immigration reform quite as quickly or convincingly as Ted Cruz did. Or the Republican “Establishment” and “elite”—like the editorial board of this newspaper—who want to flood the country with cheap foreign labor so they can enrich their Wall Street pals.

All of them must be humbled, re-educated or thrown out, like old-time cadres with suspected bourgeois tendencies. How else will real Americans get a hearing and find their voice? What’s a lost election cycle or two when the soul of movement conservatism is at stake?

As for what the soul of that movement is supposed to be, we can figure that out later. Donald Trump is a candidate of impulses, not ideas. (If you can hire people to write your books you can also hire them to do your thinking.) This doesn’t seem to have perturbed his supporters in the slightest. Mr. Cruz is happy to be on any side of an issue so long as he can paint himself as a “real Republican”—the implicit goal here being the automatic excommunication of anyone who disagrees with him. Naturally, he’s rising.

What we won’t accept, however, is a standard-bearer whose convictions or personality might conceivably appeal to those wavering voters who usually decide elections in this country. Of all the reasons to dislike Mr. Rubio, surely the greatest is that he’s the only Republican who consistently outpolls Mrs. Clinton in general election matchups.

Didn’t we already mention that our subliminal goal is to lose this election?

Of course we’ll tell ourselves that the polls don’t matter, that a congenital liar like Mrs. Clinton can’t possibly win, that all we have to do is turn out the hidden Republican base that supposedly didn’t show up to the polls for Mitt Romney. We’ll convince ourselves, too, that those voting blocs we’ve spent the past decade alienating—not just Hispanics, or Asian-Americans or gays and lesbians, but also moderates turned off by loudmouth vulgarians, oleaginous debate champs or ostentatiously pious Christians—don’t matter either.

Deep down, though, we know the political math doesn’t add up for us. We just don’t care. Because we’ve turned even the appearance of moderation, or the amenability to compromise, into a four-letter word. Oh, did we mention House Speaker Paul Ryan is another sell-out?

Years ago, the late columnist Michael Kelly wrote of American liberalism that it was “an ideology of self-styled saints, a philosophy of determined perversity. Its animating impulse is to marginalize itself and then enjoy its own company. And to make itself as unattractive to as many people as possible: If it were a person, it would pierce its tongue.”

On current trend, this will soon better describe American conservatism, which is going the way of the Democratic Party circa 1972. So let’s skip the non-suspense of next year’s campaign cycle, gird ourselves for a McGovern-style debacle, and elect Hillary Rodham Clinton now.

Merry Christmas!

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Low-Information President

By John R. Lott:

arack Obama stunned Americans and French alike on Tuesday with his false claims about gun violence in America. “I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings. This just doesn’t happen in other countries,” the president claimed, as he has repeatedly over the years. Talk about being self-absorbed.

The French have witnessed three mass public shootings this year. January saw two attacks, one on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and another on a Paris supermarket. In the November attacks, 129 people were killed and 352 were injured. In 2015, France suffered more casualties than the U.S. has suffered during Obama’s entire presidency (508 to 394).

Obama also overlooks Norway, where Anders Behring Breivik used a gun to kill 67 people and wound 110 others. Still others were killed by bombs that Breivik detonated. Of the four worst K-12 school shootings, three have occurred in Europe. Germany had two of these — one in 2002 at Erfut and another in 2009 at Winnenden, with a total death toll of 34.

Obama isn’t correct even if he meant the frequency of fatalities or attacks. Many European countries actually have higher rates of death from public shootings that resulted in four or more murders. It’s simply a matter of adjusting for America’s much larger population.

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