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Antifa Schmucks

from Jonah Goldberg at National Review The Idiot Boys of Antifa and the Alt-Right

I don’t want to start cannibalizing my forthcoming book, but the simple fact is that most of these ideological rationalizations for why Antifa is so very different from the alt-right or “fascists” are morally obtuse distractions. Sure, the ideological arguments invoked by Antifa and the alt-right are different. Fine. Also, who cares? Let’s say for the sake of argument Antifa is “better” than the alt-right? Congrats! You’ve established that you’re better than Nazis. Good for you. The relevant question is whether Antifa’s behavior is morally or legally justifiable and the obvious answer is “Of course not.”

But as Irving Kristol once said, “When we lack the will to see things as they really are, there is nothing so mystifying as the obvious.” And so supposedly serious people expend enormous energy trying to explain why their pet goon squads are morally superior to other goon squads.

Never mind that the people exhausting themselves trying to justify Antifa’s antics consistently steal a base. As Matt “Smell My Fingers” Labash demonstrates, many of the people these self-styled Roter Frontkämpferbund are beating up aren’t fascists, save in the sense Orwell had in mind when he wrote that “the word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.’” Sure, Antifa will beat up fascists, and my dog will chase squirrels. But my dog will also chase chipmunks, rabbits, mice, crows, deer, and — given the chance — gnus. Antifa appears equally discriminating.

And, unlike conservatives who condemn the white supremacists and neo-nazis, the leftists defending Antifa are actually lending aid and comfort to them by crafting ridiculous rationalizations for their behavior. As we’ve seen, that’s all these shmucks need.

The Racial Hammer

From The Wall Street Journal, Why the Left Can’t Let Go of Racism by Shelby Steele

Such people—and the American left generally—have a hunger for racism that is almost craven. The writer Walker Percy once wrote of the “sweetness at the horrid core of bad news.” It’s hard to witness the media’s oddly exhilarated reaction to, say, the death of Trayvon Martin without applying Percy’s insight. A black boy is dead. But not all is lost. It looks like racism.

What makes racism so sweet? Today it empowers. Racism was once just racism, a terrible bigotry that people nevertheless learned to live with, if not as a necessary evil then as an inevitable one. But the civil-rights movement, along with independence movements around the world, changed that. The ’60s recast racism in the national consciousness as an incontrovertible sin, the very worst of all social evils.

Suddenly America was in moral trouble. The open acknowledgment of the nation’s racist past had destroyed its moral authority, and affirming democratic principles and the rule of law was not a sufficient response. Only a strict moral accounting could restore legitimacy.

HKO

I agree that racism still exists but is way overplayed.  When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Statutory vs Actual Tax Rates

from Kevin Williamson at National Review, The U.S. Is Not the Highest-Taxed Nation in the World

We do have an extraordinarily high top corporate-tax rate — on paper, anyway. Our statutory top corporate rate is among the highest in the world, but the corporate tax code is a welfare program. You know how basically every president at every State of the Union address announces a special plan to encourage U.S. manufacturing or green energy or something like that? Those end up as exemptions and deductions in the corporate tax code, which, along with other tax-code favoritism, is why companies such as General Electric sometimes pay no taxes even in years in which they seem to be making a great deal of money. The effective corporate tax rate — what corporations actually pay — in the United States is not especially high, and it’s low if you have the right friends in Washington. The fact that corporate taxes vary so much from company to company and industry to industry is not an accident — the code is designed that way on purpose. It gives big powerful market incumbents a way to disadvantage potential competitors while giving power-brokers in Washington the power to make or break entire industries.

HKO

We conflate statutory tax rate with actual- those rates after deductions,credit, and loopholes you obtain through lobbying and political connections. The greater this difference the greater the government is influencing and polluting market decisions.

Limits of Government Power

Mark Lilla is a committed  Democrat who admonishes his party for the its descent into Identity Politics in The Once and Future Liberal- After Identity Politics 

But every catechism tends over time to become rigid and formulaic, until it eventually becomes detached from social reality. Which is exactly what happened to American liberalism in the 1970s. To the principle that collective action to serve the public good was legitimate, it added the profession of faith that taxes, spending, regulations, and court decisions were always the best way to accomplish this. By the 1980s there were countless reasons to question the assumption that government knew what it was doing and could be trusted to do it—Vietnam, Watergate, impotence in the face of stagflation, and more. Too many programs were introduced in the Great Society, too quickly and with rhetoric so elevated that it created exaggerated expectations, which resulted in inevitable disappointment. Frustratingly, none of these programs seemed capable of reversing the decline of big cities and the expansion of the welfare rolls. And some programs clearly made matters worse. Compounding the problem was that liberals refused to speak about the new culture of dependency, or about the tremendous rise in violent crime in the 1960s, most of it having nothing to do with drug offenses.

HKO

Lilla refers to a moderation that is missing from the Democratic platform. while we can realize the limits of free markets we mist also realize the limits of government power

Sanctimonious Abuse of Power

from Kimberly Strassel at the WSJ, Comey’s Secret Power:

Mr. Comey’s meddling has never seemed to stem from some hidden partisan impulse, but rather from an overweening self-righteousness. But power can be misused as much in the hands of the sanctimonious as the corrupt. And it’s overdue for congressional investigators to get to the bottom of precisely how much power Mr. Comey was exercising.

HKO

We remain confused trying to figure out Comey’s objective. Was he trying to help Hillary or sink her? Did his efforts succeed or backfire? Will his dismissal reflect well or poorly on Trump? Comey should be thoroughly investigated. Strassel suggests we err in assuming a partisan impulse.