We Can’t Spare This Man, He Fights

Shortly after the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, Pennsylvanian Republican Alexander McClure met with Abraham Lincoln in the White House urging him to remove Ulysses S. Grant from command:

I appealed to Lincoln for his own sake to remove Grant at once, and, in giving my reasons for it, I simply voiced the admittedly overwhelming protest from the loyal people of the land against Grant’s continuance in command. I could form no judgment during the conversation as to what effect my arguments had upon him beyond the fact that he was greatly distressed at this new complication. When I had said everything that could be said from my standpoint, we lapsed into silence. Lincoln remained silent for what seemed a very long time. He then gathered himself up in his chair and said in a tone of earnestness that I shall never forget: ‘I can’t spare this man; he fights.’

Today, the Republican establishment again wants to remove a fighter.

From Thomas Sowell:

Even those of us who are not supporters of either Donald Trump or Jeb Bush can learn something by comparing how each of these men handled people who tried to disrupt their question-and-answer period after a speech.

After Bush’s speech, hecklers from a group called “Black Lives Matter” caused Bush to simply leave the scene. When Trump opened his question-and-answer period by pointing to someone in the audience who had a question, a Hispanic immigration activist who had not been called on simply stood up and started haranguing.

Trump told the activist to sit down because someone else had been called on. But the harangue continued, until a security guard escorted the disrupter out of the room. And Jeb Bush later criticized Trump for having the disrupter removed!

What kind of president would someone make who caves in to those who act as if what they want automatically overrides other people’s rights — that the rules don’t apply to them?

Trump later allowed the disrupter back in, and answered his questions. Whether Trump’s answers were good, bad or indifferent is irrelevant to the larger issue of rules that apply to everyone. That was not enough to make “The Donald” a good candidate to become President of the United States. He is not. But these revealing incidents raise painful questions about electing Jeb Bush to be leader of the free world. The Republican establishment needs to understand why someone with all Trump’s faults could attract so many people who are sick of the approach that Jeb Bush represents.

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And here:

A Post-Thinking Era

From Thomas Sowell:

Some have said that we are living in a post-industrial era, while others have said that we are living in a post-racial era. But growing evidence suggests that we are living in a post-thinking era.

Many people in Europe and the Western Hemisphere are staging angry protests against Israel’s military action in Gaza. One of the talking points against Israel is that far more Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli military attacks than the number of Israeli civilians killed by the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel that started this latest military conflict.

Are these protesters aware that vastly more German civilians were killed by American bombers attacking Nazi Germany during World War II than American civilians killed in the United States by Hitler’s forces?

Talk show host Geraldo Rivera says that there is no way Israel is winning the battle for world opinion. But Israel is trying to win the battle for survival, while surrounded by enemies. Might that not be more important?

Has any other country, in any other war, been expected to keep the enemy’s civilian casualties no higher than its own civilian casualties? The idea that Israel should do so did not originate among the masses but among the educated intelligentsia.

In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity.

It is much the same story in our domestic controversies. We have gotten so intimidated by political correctness that our major media outlets dare not call people who immigrate to this country illegally “illegal immigrants.”

Geraldo Rivera has denounced the Drudge Report for carrying news stories that show some of the negative consequences and dangers from allowing vast numbers of youngsters to enter the country illegally and be spread across the country by the Obama administration.

Some of these youngsters are already known to be carrying lice and suffering from disease. Since there have been no thorough medical examinations of most of them, we have no way of knowing whether, or how many, are carrying deadly diseases that will spread to American children when these unexamined young immigrants enter schools across the country.

The attack against Matt Drudge has been in the classic tradition of demagogues. It turns questions of fact into questions of motive. Geraldo accuses Drudge of trying to start a “civil war.”

Back when masses of immigrants from Europe were entering this country, those with dangerous diseases were turned back from Ellis Island. Nobody thought they had a legal or a moral “right” to be in America or that it was mean or racist not to want our children to catch their diseases.

Even on the less contentious issue of minimum wage laws, there are the same unthinking reactions.

Although liberals are usually gung ho for increasing the minimum wage, there was a sympathetic front page story in the July 29th San Francisco Chronicle about the plight of a local non-profit organization that will not be able to serve as many low-income minority youths if it has to pay a higher minimum wage. They are seeking some kind of exemption.

Does it not occur to these people that the very same thing happens when a minimum wage increase applies to profit-based employers? They too tend to hire fewer inexperienced young people when there is a minimum wage law.

This is not breaking news. This is what has been happening for generations in the United States and in other countries around the world.

One of the few countries without a minimum wage law is Switzerland, where the unemployment rate has been consistently less than 4 percent for years. Back in 2003, The Economist magazine reported that “Switzerland’s unemployment neared a five-year high of 3.9% in February.” The most recent issue shows the Swiss unemployment rate back to a more normal 3.2 percent.

Does anyone think that having minimum wage laws and high youth unemployment is better? In fact, does anyone think at all these days?

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Who Really Is the ‘Angry Old White Man’?

From VDH:

What is the catalyst for affluent, mostly white people prominent in the media either charging others with racism or urging that they should be charged with racism — in the manner that a Chris Matthews, Joe Klein, and Lawrence O’Donnell have recently been channeling Joe Biden (“put y’all back in chains”) or Harry Reid (“angry old white men”) in alleging that opposing Obama in 2012 is tantamount to racism. Usually the charge has no factual basis other than there are supposed to be certain coded words like welfare, golf, Chicago, cool, etc. that supposedly imply bigotry.

The accusers are 1-percenters. They mostly live lives (e.g., where they live, how much they make, where their children go to school, where they vacation, etc.) indistinguishable from the conservative grandees that they charge with insensitive elitism — and worse. They assume that their own privilege, marriages, money, insider contacts, quid pro quo New York-D.C. networking, etc. gives them exceptional entrée and advantages over others, and should be used accordingly and without remorse. They have no populist lamentation against capitalism on the grounds that their own compensation is ridiculous in comparison to what others make. None requests a pay cut; or transfers a child to the inner D.C. public-school system. None believes a phone call to a well-placed friend to promote a son’s or daughter’s college or job prospects is part of the odious “old boy network,” at least enough not to do it. So is it that liberal pontification about endemic racism and the need for higher taxes on people like themselves allows them to live in traditional 1-percenter style without cosmic guilt — and without any adjustment to their immediate landscapes? Is there a liberal battery that fuels the good life, but which must be charged periodically by loudly smearing others as racist? The more a blond, pink Elizabeth Warren rants about the 1-percenters and attests that she is a Native American, the less she is anxious about being a millionaire academic?

Somehow with all this “white this, white that” we are to assume that the white male tire-store owner in Tulare or the long-haul truck driver from Akron who lives with those who do not look like himself, and who finds that his 80-hour week does not add up to a day’s wages of Chris Matthews’ rantings, is culpable because, in the grand American tradition, he holds those now in charge responsible for 42 months of 8-plus percent unemployment, $4 gas, and $5 trillion in new debt, after being promised four years ago that things would not be as they are now.

When a media millionaire who resides in an all-white tony suburb sermonizes on racism, or when Barack Obama, also a millionaire who lives for free as president, lectures Americans on the need for higher taxes on “people like myself,” it really means less than nothing.

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Faith in Experts

Leftism is their religion and experts their clergy. From Jonah Goldberg:

There are no more devout members of the cult of expertise than mainstream journalists. They rely on experts for guidance about what is “mainstream” and accurate and what is not. Sometimes that’s fine. Surgeons are extremely reliable sources to explain how a heart attack happens. They’re not as reliable at telling you who will have one, save in a statistical sense, and even less reliable at telling you when a specific person will have one.

That’s because prediction is hard. Experts — in politics, economics, climate — are very, very bad at telling people what will happen tomorrow, let alone next year or next century. How many of the economists who tell us what to do now failed to see the mortgage debt crisis coming? Nearly all of them.

Philip Tetlock’s 2005 book, Expert Political Judgment, documents that the predictions of even the most credentialed and experienced experts are often worse and very rarely better than random guessing. “In this age of academic hyperspecialization,” he writes, “there is no reason for supposing that contributors to top journals — distinguished political scientists, area study specialists, economists, and so on — are any better than journalists or attentive readers of the New York Times in ‘reading’ emerging situations.”

The cult of experts has acolytes in all ideological camps, but its most institutionalized following is on the left. The Left needs to believe in the authority of experts because without that authority, almost no economic intervention can be justified. If you concede that you have no idea whether your remedy will work, it’s going to be hard to sell it to the patient. Market-based ideologies don’t have that problem because markets expect events in ways experts never can.

No president since Woodrow Wilson or Franklin Roosevelt has been more enamored with the cult of expertise than Obama. That none of his economic predictions have panned out is not surprising. What is surprising is that so many people are surprised.

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Political Vultures

From VDH:

Very few Americans are fans of both The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kamp, as the Tucson killer, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, apparently was. Fewer still post on the Internet fears about “brain washing,” “mind control,” and “conscience dreaming”; have a long record of public disruption and aberrant behavior; were expelled from community college; or were summarily rejected for military service.

No matter. Almost immediately following Loughner’s cowardly murdering of six and wounding of 14 including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, pundits and some public figures rushed to locate his rampage, together with his paranoid rantings about government control, within the larger landscape of right-wing politics — especially the rhetoric of the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.

Apparently, we are supposed to believe that Loughner’s unhinged rants about the “government” indict those who express reasonable reservations about the size of government as veritable accessories to mass murder. The three worst offenders were Paul Daly of the New York Daily News, who claimed just that in an essay with the raging headline “The blood of Congresswoman Giffords was on Sarah Palin’s hands”; the ubiquitous Paul Krugman, who connected Loughner to the supposedly Republican-created “climate of hate”; and Andrew Sullivan, who thought he saw yet another avenue through which to further his own blind antipathy toward Sarah Palin and “the Palin forces.” In their warped syllogism, the Tea Party unquestionably creates hatred; a congresswomen was shot out of hatred; ergo, the Tea Party and/or the Republican party all but pulled the trigger.

That the 22-year-old shooter more likely fit the profile of an unhinged killer like Ted Kaczynski or John Hinckley did not seem to register. In the wake of the Kennedy assassination, commentators pontificated about a right-wing “climate of hate” in Dallas, Texas, that supposedly explained why a crazed avowed Communist — pro-Soviet, Castroite 24-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald — shot President Kennedy. Suddenly, this week, we are back in a 1963 mood of blaming politics for deranged shootings.

In the times of national uncertainty and fear that immediately follow hideous mass shootings, this cheap habit of channeling insanity into politics always surfaces but never convinces — as we learned from the deplorable tactic of blaming the Oklahoma City bombing on conservative talk radio. There is usually no clear-cut evidence that a shooter’s ideology has trumped his own imbalances; and we are never quite sure what outside stimulus is the deciding factor that pushes the unhinged over the edge from sounding like a nut on MySpace or YouTube into pulling the trigger.

Loughner was no John Wilkes Booth or James Earl Ray, whose bouts of insanity and past troubles seemed overshadowed by a virulent hatred of the men they shot, which in turn was driven largely by racism or sectarian hatred. But even in such seemingly clear-cut examples of political assassination as Booth’s small cabal, we do not quite see a Day of the Jackal–like cold professionalism, funded by nefarious and well-organized political organizations. Plenty of southerners wanted Lincoln dead by spring 1864; scores of racists shared the sentiments of Ray toward Martin Luther King. But while both killers carefully planned their shootings, it is far harder to uncover elaborate conspiracies that used Booth and Ray as mere triggermen than to discover that both were troubled, sick, and often violent characters whose demonic furies turned their own political extremism into carefully calculated murders.

Further, there is no evidence that political killers share a common ideology. For every apparently right-wing Timothy McVeigh there is a left-wing Ted Kaczynski; both exhibited a sort of mental derangement in their braggadocio about extreme politics. The Sixties culture of drugs, permissiveness, national liberation, radical politics, and environmentalism no more made the Palestinian extremist Sirhan Sihran assassinate Bobby Kennedy, or Charles Manson follower Squeaky Fromme try to kill President Ford, or pop socialist and cult preacher the Rev. Jim Jones order the execution of Rep. Leo Ryan, or Arthur Bremmer shoot the “segregationist dinosaur” George Wallace, than right-wing politics drove on the equally deranged Jared Lee Loughner.

There is much talk that Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs” ad pushed Loughner over the edge. But if sloppy use of gun metaphors can drive anyone to shoot congressional representatives, think what we are up against when the president of the United States invokes violent imagery to galvanize his supporters. What are we to make of Obama’s warning of “hand-to-hand combat” if the Republicans take over; or his comment that one of his supporters could “tear [Sean Hannity] up”; or his Untouchables boast that “if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”; or his advice to supporters of his presidential campaign to argue with Republicans and independents and “get in their face”?

Why would a president boast about figuring out “whose ass to kick,” or, in a climate of fear about terrorism, call his opponents “hostage takers”? In a post-9/11 world, is it prudent for the commander-in-chief to say of his political opponents, “Here’s the problem: It’s almost like they’ve got — they’ve got a bomb strapped to them and they’ve got their hand on the trigger. You don’t want them to blow up”? What about, “But you’ve got to kind of talk them, ease that finger off the trigger”?

Also, in a political twofer, Obama once not only evoked gun imagery, but did so in a context of relegating Republicans into second-class citizenry: “We can’t have special interests sitting shotgun. We gotta have middle class families up in front. We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.”

Yet do we really wish to tie crude presidential metaphors, similes, and bombast to the next violent attack on a conservative political figure? Are we to suggest that President Obama’s occasional indiscretions have created a climate of fear that someday will lead to violence against his political adversaries? Or, did Obama merely from time to time indulge in sloppy thinking and clumsy expression? Even as someone who did not vote for Barack Obama, I do not think the president’s ill-advised and juvenile similes and allusions will ever drive a liberal extremist into “bringing a gun” to a political fight or literally “tearing up” a political opponent.

The problem that political hatchet writers such as Paul Krugman have with channeling acts of unhinged violence into expressions of mainstream political thinking is threefold. First, such politicos cannot calibrate the degree to which ideological motivation trumps mental instability. If Arthur Bremmer hated racists and admired black politicians, did such feelings feed on mainstream liberals’ fears of segregationists, and did they alone result in his shooting of George Wallace? Analyzing an isolated act of violence is more difficult than finding a pattern in the 30-something terrorist plots since 9/11 in which avowed Islamic terrorists have tried to kill infidel Americans in open emulation of Osama bin Laden.

Second, there is no consistent evidence that the Kaczynskis or Squeaky Frommes of the world are less numerous than the McVeighs. If political fervor inspires extremism, is there any evidence that states’-rights zealotry prompts more terrorism than, say, radical environmentalism? Are left-wing nuts more or less numerous than right-wing nuts — and more or less likely to translate warped politics into pulling a trigger? If Sarah Palin has used crosshairs imagery, has the Democratic-party hierarchy never used shooting-range targets to illustrate their electoral strategy to unseat Republicans? And has any academic collated 100 years of political assassinations and shootings in the U.S. to determine whether radicals or reactionaries are more likely to shoot public figures — and, far more critically, to prove that such political motivations, rather than mental instability, were the real catalysts for the ensuing violence?

Third, the outrage of Daly, Krugman, Sullivan, and others is partisan and transparently self-serving. Paul Krugman would have more credibility on the topic of extreme rhetoric had he written a column a few years ago warning Americans that it was one thing to oppose George W. Bush, but quite another to publish a novel envisioning the assassination of the president, or to award first prize at the Toronto Film Festival to a “docudrama” constructing the shooting of Bush, or to compare one’s opponents (as Al Gore and John Glenn did) to “brownshirts” and “Hitler.” Did we ever hear from Andrew Sullivan to cool the sick rhetoric about Sarah Palin, in worries that his incessant rumor-mongering about her supposed faked pregnancies had reached the point of dehumanization?

If crazed gunmen are sadly a periodic characteristic of American culture, so are political vultures who scavenge political capital as they pick through the horrific violence.

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An anti-Washington year

Thank God.

From Brent Baker:

“This is a damn outrage,” a disgusted David Brooks, the faux conservative columnist for the New York Times, declared on Sunday’s Meet the Press reacting to Republican Senator Bob Bennett’s loss Saturday at Utah’s Republican convention which chose two others to compete in a June primary for the seat. Brooks fretted he was punished for being “a good conservative who was trying to get things done” by “bravely” working with Democrats on health care and supporting TARP. “Now,” he repeated, “he’s losing his career over that. And it’s just a damn outrage.”

Sitting beside Brooks on NBC’s roundtable, liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr,. a former New York Times correspondent, saw “almost a non-violent coup because they denied the sitting Senator even a chance of getting on the primary ballot.”

[…]

ABC’s Jake Tapper brought Rudy Giuliani aboard This Week to address the handling of the Times Square botched bomber, but wouldn’t let him go before bringing up Bennett’s defeat as proof of an intolerant GOP: “Are you worried at all that the Republican Party is not only growing more hostile to more liberal to moderate Republicans such as yourself, but also conservative Republicans who are shown to, at least shown an ability to work with Democrats?”

Later, during the roundtable, George Will answered the presumption Bennett was the victim of an ideological purity test:

This is an anti-Washington year. How do you get more Washington than a three-term Senator who occupies the seat once held by his father, a four-term Senator, who before that worked on the Senate staff and then as a lobbyist in Washington? He’s a wonderful man and a terrific Senator. But the fact is, he’s going against terrific head-winds this year and he cast three votes: TARP, stimulus and an individual mandate for health care. Now, you might like one, two or all three of those, but being opposed to them is not outside the mainstream of American political argument.

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Jonah Goldberg, in his latest column, agrees with George Will:

Sen. Robert Bennett, an honorable and sincere politician, was brought down by the rank and file of the Utah Republican Party over the weekend. Bennett, visibly shaken by his loss, seemed as stunned as anybody that he didn’t pass muster with his own party.

He had good reason to be shocked. Bennett is reliably conservative with considerable seniority. He’s also one of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s right-hand men. In every way, he represented the establishment within the GOP. And, ultimately, that’s why he lost.

His gravest sins, according to critics, were his longtime support for a health insurance mandate and his vote for the TARP bailout of the banks.

Inside the Beltway, the shock is even more profound. Most of the news stories describe Bennett as being “ousted” or “kicked out” of the GOP, as if he didn’t lose the contest fair and square. The pundits’ descriptions are even more stark. “A guy like Bob Bennett, who is a right-wing conservative, is being driven out because he’s not sufficiently conservative?” asked an incredulous Juan Wiliams on Fox News. “If I lived in Utah, I’m going to give up Bob Bennett and his seniority and connections?”

On “Meet the Press,” New York Times columnist David Brooks fumed, “This is a damn outrage.” The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne Jr. lamented, “It’s almost a nonviolent coup.” Presumably he meant it was almost a coup, not almost nonviolent. Regardless, it’s a curious way to describe a perfectly peaceful democratic process.

The conventional Beltway interpretation is that Bennett fell victim to the growing right-wing “extremism” of the Republican Party, fueled by those Huns, the “tea partiers.”

[…]

It’s certainly plausible that the GOP is tacking too far to the right, but that rightward shift is a natural and healthy response to Washington’s abrupt — and largely unpopular — leftward shift since 2008. In D.C., the coin of the realm is “seniority and connections,” and it is that currency that bought us the calamitous state of the country. Ironically, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama were elected promising to “change the way Washington works.” For the powers that be, the more frightening and tangible lesson from Utah might well be: “This time we mean it.”

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Off fact

Bill Maher on ABC’s This Week with Jake Tapper regarding the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:

I could certainly criticize the oil companies, and I could criticize America in general for not attacking this problem in the ’70s. I mean Brazil got off oil over the last thirty years, we certainly could have.

[…]

I believe they did. I believe in the ’70s they had a program to use sugarcane ethanol, and I believe that is what fuels their country.
—Bill Maher

He’s just making it up as he goes along. According the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 49% of Brazil’s total energy consumption in 2006 was oil and only 2% was “other renewables” of which, I guess, the sugarcane ethanol that fuels Brazil falls under.

Bravo to George Will for not letting this go unchallenged.

The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.
—Ronald Reagan

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H/T: Gateway Pundit

A nation of dodos

From Mark Steyn:

His Genius Is Wasted On You

The United States is too dumb to thrive:

Absolutely amazing poll results from CNN today about the $787* stimulus package: nearly three out of four Americans think the money has been wasted. On second thought, they may be right: it’s been wasted on them.

That’s what it says at the time of writing, by the way: a $787 stimulus package. Presumably Joe Klein’s editors will get around to correcting that at some point, but just for the record let me say that I would have been all in favor of a $787 stimulus package. At any rate, Mr. Klein concludes with two “thoughts”:

So, two thoughts:

1. The Obama Administration has done a terrible job explaining the stimulus package to the American people . . . especially since there have been very few documented cases of waste so far.

2. This is yet further evidence that Americans are flagrantly ill-informed . . . and, for those watching Fox News, misinformed.

It is very difficult to have a democracy without citizens. It is impossible to be a citizen if you don’t make an effort to understand the most basic activities of your government. It is very difficult to thrive in an increasingly competitive world if you’re a nation of dodos.

Having elected the Smartest Administration of All Time, the Obammysoxers are understandably drawn to the notion that the problem right now is that you knuckledragging rubes are too dumb to understand all he’s done for you. If I were Mr. Klein, though, I’d surely be smart enough to wonder if stating it quite so explicitly is really the way to go.

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It’s the people’s seat

In one sense, this is a small thing. But in another sense, it is important to not let such an inaccurate, loaded phrase pass without correction. Bravo, Mr. Brown.

David Gergen: “You said you’re for health care reform, just not this bill. We know form the Clinton experience that if this bill fails, it could well be another 15 years before we see health care reform efforts again in Washington. Are you, willing under those circumstances, to say, “I’m going to be the person, I’m going to sit in Teddy Kennedy’s seat, and I’m going to be the person that’s going to block it for another 15 years?”

Scott Brown: “Well with all due respect it’s not the Kennedy seat, and it’s not the Democrat’s seat– it’s the people’s seat.”

President Palin’s First 100 Days

From Victor Davis Hanson:

IT’S THE MATH, STUPID!
“Well,” lectured Paul Krugman, again in the Times, “we were worried that they didn’t teach math at Idaho U., and now we know for sure they don’t. Is it $1.6 trillion, $1.7 trillion, or $2 trillion in red ink this year? Are we supposed to be impressed that she offers ‘fiscal sobriety’ by cutting 0.003 percent of the budget? She gives out money to those who don’t pay taxes and calls it a tax cut. And now Queen Sarah tells us that in four years she’ll ‘halve’ the deficit, as if she hasn’t borrowed another $5 trillion in the meantime. Does she think we’re morons? How many ‘Drill, baby, drill!’ oil wells can she tap into up there in Alaska to pay for the extra $11 trillion in debt she’s saddling us with?”

Full essay here