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A Political Lifestyle Choice

From Jonah Goldberg at National Review, Politics Enters the Fast Lane:

Two weeks ago, I wrote in this “news”letter about how politics is becoming “lifestyle-ized.” Everyone talks about how everyday life is becoming politicized, but the reverse is true, too. Politics is becoming a lifestyle choice, a fashion, in ways it never has before. And last week, I wrote that people are starting to follow politics like it’s entertainment. The two ideas complement each other. So much TV these days, from streaming-video shows to cooking-competition shows to DIY programming, is about lifestyle. Politics is too.

But the hitch is that once you start watching politics like it’s entertainment, you constantly crave novelty, freshness, new laughs, and drama. That’s part of the genius of the Trump presidency. As a philosophical or ideological affair, it’s a train wreck. But as entertainment, it’s really quite brilliant. According to the old playbook(s), Trump’s tweeting and all the rest looks like Sideshow Bob or Barnyard Dawg walking into a sea of garden rakes. But as TV entertainment, it’s gold.

HKO

This is an interesting point.  Trump has changed the game; or at least early recognized what the game had become:  a fashion statement, an entertainment venue, a lifestyle choice.

Pelosi is not The Problem

From Jonah Goldberg at National Review, Politics Enters the Fast Lane:

Oh, there is one point I want to make about Nancy Pelosi, other than the fact that she always looks like she just left a Ludovico treatment session and her eyes haven’t readjusted. Last night on Special Report, I’m not sure I made a point the way I intended (I’d check the video, but my Internet connection in the BWI parking garage is less than ideal and I got a late start, and I’m lazy). What I was trying to say is that Nancy Pelosi’s brand outside of solidly liberal districts is worse than the GOP’s. The reason I think I said it wrong, is that the lovely and talented A. B. Stoddard corrected me by pointing out that Democrats do better on the generic ballot than Republicans do. That’s certainly true.

But Nancy Pelosi is not generic. She’s literally a San Francisco Democrat and a known quantity. When you say “Democrat” to people, they might think of Pelosi, but they also might think of John F. Kennedy, or Bill Clinton, or “not Donald Trump,” or “not the GOP.” But when you say, “Nancy Pelosi,” even many independents react like the guys at Delta House when Flounder’s picture appeared on the screen. They think of the smug, condescending, social-engineering side of the Democratic party. That’s why Handel could so effectively use Pelosi against Ossoff. A vote for him was a vote to get Pelosi one step closer to running the House of Representatives.

HKO

Under Nancy Pelosi’s leadership the Democrats lost the House, the Senate, the Whitehouse, and most state governments. Yet their first response to the shock of a Trump victory was to return her to leadership.

What a quagmire for the Dems.  On one hand she is an incredible fundraiser; but she is toxic and unable to win the political middle that they must have to actually win elections.

Pelosi is only the face of the problem. The problem is party wide. It is the party of hate, derangement, political violence, illiberalism, identity politics, hyperbole, political correctness, contempt, and elitism.

If Pelosi stepped aside her shoes would be quickly filled by Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris (the Dems’ new rock star), Maxine Waters, or even Hillary Clinton. Hollywood and the stand up cynics (who have sacrificed any remaining humor to their cynicism) drive voters to any alternative- even Trump.

The problem isn’t Pelosi, it is what she represents that too many Democrats are too willing to accept.

Intellectual Scapegoats

William Voegeli wrote an important book, Never Enough which I highly recommend.

In National Review he writes Why the Liberal Elite Will Never Check Its Privilege

Speaking of Orwell, his observation that all leftist political parties are “at bottom a sham, because they make it their business to fight against something which they do not really wish to destroy,” holds up impressively after 75 years. An evil not really meant to be eradicated is, for instance, central to the global-warming crusade. Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert thinks the threat is grave, putting us in a “race toward planetary disaster,” but also considers the political effort against it thoroughly disingenuous. Most liberals, she argues, refuse to admit an inconvenient truth: The reduction in greenhouse gases necessary to reverse, halt, or even slow global warming will either prolong and worsen the misery of the planet’s poor countries or require Americans to reduce their energy consumption by more than 80 percent. Knowing that Americans have no interest in giving up “air travel or air conditioning or HDTV or trips to the mall or the family car,” environmentalists encourage the soothing fantasy that “climate change can be tackled with minimal disruption to ‘the American way of life.’”

HKO

This need for a cause you despise is another form of scapegoating.  A scapegoat is needed to identify one’s virtue, if not their very purpose in life.  A populist needs a demon more than a deity.  For 2,000 years the Jews in Europe were demonized as scapegoats, but were never destroyed in spite of periods of great and horrible anti-antisemitism.  They were hated, but needed.

Economic Segregation

Kevin Williamson is one of the best economics writers around, especially for a non economist. His style follows in the tradition of Henry Hazlitt and his classic Economics In One Lesson, bringing economic theory into common experiences. This is from latest from National Review, How to Think about Low-Income Housing:

The only way to make housing more plentiful is to make housing more plentiful. What that implies, especially in the case of our big cities, is denser development. But our big-city governments — which are almost exclusively under Democratic control — will not allow that. New York City’s population density is less than half that of comparable European cities (and much less than many comparable Asian cities) and, in spite of its reputation as a city of skyscrapers, fewer than 2 percent of its residences are in buildings 20 stories or taller, much lower than the figure for comparable cities globally. In New York, the progressives aren’t working to allow denser development and, hence, cheaper housing: They’re doing the opposite, proposing to cap the number of tall buildings in the city. Forget New Jersey — there are a fair number of New Yorkers who commute from Pennsylvania. San Francisco, Austin, Los Angeles, the parts of Chicago or Philadelphia you might actually want to live in . . . similar story. They’ll call it historic preservation or “defending the character of the neighborhood” or whatever, but it’s basically economic segregation, which, it’s probably worth noting, is still a pretty good proxy for racial discrimination: San Francisco’s black population has decreased by one-third in recent years, and diversity-loving Portland saw its black population shrink by 11.5 percent in just four years.

A Dangerous Moment in History

from Kevin Williamson at National Review, From Americans to Americans 

This is a dangerous moment in our history, about which we ought to be honest. President Donald Trump is an irresponsible demagogue who ought never have been elected to the office he holds — but he was, legitimately, fair and square, your favorite Muscovite conspiracy theory notwithstanding. That being said, the actual immediate problem of political violence in the United States is overwhelmingly and particularly a problem belonging to the Left. This is not a “both sides do it” issue: Paul Krugman can speak on any college campus in this country without enduring mob violence and organized terrorism — Charles Murray cannot. There is not anything on the right like the mass terrorism behind the Seattle riots of 1999 or the black-bloc riots of the day before yesterday. The Democratic party, progressive organizations, and college administrations have some serious political and intellectual housekeeping to do here — but, instead, they are in the main refusing to acknowledge that they have a problem. The line between “Punch a Nazi!” and “Assassinate a Republican congressman!” is morally perforated.

The identification of the president with the nation itself is a particularly poisonous and idiotic form of power-worship, one that was a fairly common feature of progressive discourse when it was Barack Obama being “undermined.” But the president is not the country, and opposing the president — irrespective of his party or his agenda — is not treason. It is politics.