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Hoisted by Their Own Petard

The Problem with Investigating Trump from Kevin Williamson at National Review:

The Obama administration left us with a poison bouquet, a federal government whose investigatory agencies are thoroughly corrupted, politicized, and untrustworthy. We know for a fact that the Internal Revenue Service, acting after demands from Democratic elected officials, targeted conservative-leaning activist groups for investigation and harassment, and that this harassment was outrageous, including demands that religiously oriented organizations disclose the very contents of their prayers. We know that that Internal Revenue Service illegally and maliciously leaked information about the donors of the National Organization for Marriage, in order to facilitate political and financial retaliation against them. We know that evidence, including e-mails, was destroyed to subvert investigation into this criminal conspiracy, and that congressional Democrats went to extraordinary lengths to protect IRS officials from being punished for their wrongdoing. We know that one of the key figures in that case, Lois Lerner, is enjoying a large federal pension rather than a small federal prison cell.

We know that the Department of Justice was wildly politicized during the Obama years, doing Democrats’ bidding on everything from voter-intimidation cases to the Clinton e-mail case. We know that the National Labor Relations Board was used as a political weapon to try to punish Boeing for setting up new production in Republican-leaning South Carolina rather than Democratic-leaning Washington State. We know that the ATF was used to audit a business whose owners were not involved in A, T, or F, but who were involved in election-reform projects, and that the same firm was targeted by OSHA and the IRS. We know that a politicized EPA was involved in such extraordinary shenanigans that its director felt the need to set up a pseudonymous e-mail account in order to hide her activities from ordinary oversight. Even our Democratic friends have concluded that the FBI under the Obama administration was politicized, though they cannot quite seem to make up their minds about the direction or intent of it.

HKO

I have commented on this blog before about the great damage done to our institutions by their politicization under the last administration. This is far more critical than the issues of fake news. It is real news that was ignored as long as it served the purposes of those in power.  The Democrats weaponized the government institutions and are now apoplectic that this power is now in the hands of the opposition, They violated the cardinal rule of political power: never put power in a position unless you can picture your worst nightmare in that position.

I will predict that just as the recount and the effort to sway the electors backfired on them, this investigation into Trump’s Russian connection will backfire on them as well.

The Unluckiest Political Movement

from Kevin Williams at National Review, Camino de Servidumbre

But men do not like being told that they cannot do that which they wish to do, and this is particularly true of men who have a keen interest in political power. Hayek believed that efforts to impose central planning on economies were doomed to fail, and that this failure would not be met with humility but with outrage. When socialist policies produced their inevitable economic consequences, the first reaction would be to try to pass laws against the realization of those economic consequences. We saw a good deal of that in Venezuela, for instance with the imposition of currency controls when excessive social-welfare spending produced hyperinflation.

But those efforts are of course doomed to failure as well, which leads to outright political repression, scapegoating, and violence. In Venezuela, strongman Hugo Chávez, who was adored by American Democrats ranging from the Reverend Jesse Jackson to former representative Chakka Fattah and any number of Hollywood progressives, undertook to silence opposition media by insisting that they were simply fronts for moneyed elites working to undermine the work of democracy. (It will not escape your notice that our own progressives are making precisely the same argument in the matter of Citizens United, a First Amendment case considering the question of whether the government could prohibit the showing of a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton.) His protégé, Nicolás Maduro, has continued in the same vein.

Socialism is either the unluckiest political movement in the history of political movements, one that just happens to keep intersecting with the careers of monsters, or there is something about socialism itself that throws up monsters. There is nothing wrong with Venezuelans, and nothing unusual about them: Here at home, our own progressives dream of imprisoning people for holding unpopular political views, nationalizing key industries, and shutting down opposition media. They have black-shirted terrorists attacking people with explosives on college campuses for the crime of holding non-conforming political views. And they aren’t averse to a little old-fashioned Stalinism, either, provided there’s a degree or two of separation: Bernie Sanders, once an elector for the Socialist Workers party, remains the grumpy Muppet pin-up of the American Left.

“Socialism can be put into practice only by methods of which most socialists disapprove,” Hayek told us.

Righteous Orthodoxy

from the FEE, Foundation for Economic Education, Be Wary of the Orwellian “Enlightened” Class by Robin Koerner

He understood that the morality of a political ideology in practice cannot be determined from its theoretical exposition – but only from the actual experiences of those who would be affected by its real-world application.

To make the point to the people he felt most needed to hear it, Orwell, a self-identified socialist, called out the arrogance of his friends on the Left who experienced themselves as so “enlightened,” to use his word, that they did not need to consider the sentiments – let alone ideas – of those who were to them clearly politically ignorant.

Orwell had a name for this kind of self-righteous certainty – and it wasn’t fascism, capitalism, or communism.  It was “orthodoxy,” which he explains in 1984, “means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” It is a state exhibited by people who already know they have the right answers – at least in the areas that matter.

There is no political system so perfect that it will not be deadly when imposed against the will of others by people sure of their own righteousness. Orwell saw that no political theory – even the egalitarian socialism that he believed to be the most moral – can prevent its adherents from being anything other than tyrants if they are committed to it in a way that is immune to the protests and experiences of other people.

In other words, tyranny is not the result of a belief in a bad political theory; it is the result of a bad belief in a political theory – and that is an entirely different thing.

Collective Delusion

from Let’s Get Metaphysical About Trump and the ‘Post-Truth Era’ by Crispin Sartwell

Likewise, truth cannot be a matter of social consensus. That groups are in agreement has no tendency to show that what they believe is true, or else flat contradictions are true in a situation in which we are polarized into groups with contradictory beliefs. As consensus tightens, it degenerates into self-confirmation and collective delusion. Each side already believes this about the other, so each side is committed to the view that truth is something more than agreement. Nor can “truth” mean merely what works, if by “works” one means persuading people or guiding their behavior or opinions in some desirable direction.

That makes it very odd to formulate the thing in terms of alternative realities or the disintegration of truth itself. Both sides need the truth, and they need it not to be relative to any group’s particular set of beliefs—or they need to stop attacking their opponents. There’s nothing unusual about a situation in which people disagree about what the truth is, and the concept of truth itself is not particularly at stake right now.

It’s a bizarre misapprehension, in short, that truth is disintegrating or in crisis. Fabrications do not undermine truth—they presuppose it. Lies can harm people, but they can’t harm truth itself. They conceptually depend on it. The right conclusion from all this isn’t that truth is disintegrating, but that truth is hard and intrusive, that it does not readily bend to human will or agreement or narrative. The power of the Russian intelligence services or a Sean Spicer press briefing is considerable, but it does not include the ability to bend the fabric of reality.

Rhetoric vs Reality

From economist Tyler Cowen at Bloomberg, What Democrats Won’t Admit About Voters and Health Care

But keep in mind that the American Health Care Act of 2017 does not prevent states from spending whatever is needed to cover pre-existing conditions, if they so choose. The underlying truth is that voters at the state level just aren’t that interested in paying for these benefits, preferring instead to lower taxes, or to spend the money on roads, schools and prisons.

In other words, when American voters are given a direct bill for health-care expenditures, they recoil, even when the beneficiaries are in needy or desperate situations. The Democrats are good at tarring the Republicans for indifference to the plight of these people, but less keen to admit that the larger popular indifference plagues their own health-care visions as well.

A meme I’ve seen going around on Twitter put it this way: Health-care expenditures are about 1/6 of GDP, but no American wants to spend 1/6 of income on health care.

The failures reflect scarcity in the world around us. It turns out we value health care for others more in rhetoric than in reality.

HKO

Promising benefits and hiding the cost is no virtue. This is the real reason that Gruber and the Democrats lied so blatantly. Usurping the power of the consumer will not improve health care.