Square Pegs

I’ve been pondering how to address this for a while – what it’s liek to be an actual conservative in the Trump era.

John Hawkins takes a run at it with the five werdest things about being a conservative Trump non-fan.

Here’s one that some of my liberal friends have a hard time wrapping their brains around:

I can understand Democrats writing off a conservative like me because even if Alex Jones is duking it out with Todd Akin one day, I still won’t vote for whoever the latest socialist is that they run. That being said, there are roughly 8 million Americans who voted for Obama AND Trump and the general attitude Democrats have toward them seems to be, “Rot in Hell with your orange god.” No political party can appeal to everyone, but it’s so strange to see a political party that treats millions of voters they are going to want support from in the next election like pariahs simply because they voted for the other side. This would be like an NBA team saying, “If you didn’t show up to support us at yesterday’s game, then we better never see you again! Oh, and if we catch you wearing our merch, we will MURDER YOU.”

It’s part and parcel of the Democrats becoming an extremist cult.

Almost Coulda Been

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

John McCain, dying, says he regrets picking Sarah Palin as a running mate in his campaign against Barak Obama and Al Gore.

He wishes he had picked pro-abortion Democrat Joe Lieberman to run as the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate.

This tells us all we need to know about John McCain’s firm commitment to conservative principles – none – and why the Republican base absolutely insisted on a rock-solid Conservative on the ticket.  Without her, people like me would have stayed home and McCain/Lieberman would have received no electoral votes at all.

And I for one was worried about that.

Too Big Not To Fail

It’s become Big Left’s latest line – America is “too big to govern”.

David French notes – of course it is:

What if trust in American democracy is eroding because the nation has become too big to be effectively governed through traditional means? With a population of more than 325 million and an enormously complex society, perhaps this country has passed a point where — no matter whom we elect — it risks becoming permanently dissatisfied with legislative and governmental performance.

It depends on how one defines “traditional means.” If we’re speaking about the post-FDR form of American government, with power increasingly centralized in Washington, then [Colby University sociology professor Neil Gross] is on to something: American political dysfunction will only increase so long as our leaders remain committed to that kind of government. But if one goes further back and defines “traditional means” as government ordered according to the vision of the Founders, then there’s hope for us yet. True federalism (and only true federalism) can match American government to the larger religious, cultural, and political trends that are pulling Americans apart.

And it shouldn’t even be a tough choice:

Simply put, our current national government isn’t fit for the times in which we live. What we stitched together in response to an unusual one-two-three punch of American history (the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War) during a period of extraordinary Democratic political dominance is now straining under its own colossal weight. It’s not responsive to a nation that lacks a mortal threat to its existence, and it’s incompatible with a population that is using the combination of geographic mobility and technological flexibility to wall itself off in increasingly cocooned and polarized communities.

Of course, true federalism would wipe out a lot of lucrative sinecures.  And that means it won’t happen until things completely collapse – at best.

Math Isn’t Their Strong Suit

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

They pay burger flippers nearly $12 per hour now.  The workers went union for a fair wage.

Bad news, people.  The fair wage for someone whose only marketable skill is flipping burgers is $10.  They were overpaying to keep the union out.  Now they’ll agree to raise wages but that will force layoffs to balance the budget.

There will be one guy working for $100 an hour but the rest of you will be replaced by a burger-flipping machine.  I predict bankruptcy in three years.

Joe Doakes

The story is from Portland – which seems to believe, these days, that if you vote for something hard enough, you’re enttitled to it.

Pick Your Enemies

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

 

Conservatives are throwing a tantrum.  Trump is a complete failure and we’re all doomed because he signed the horrible, no good, very bad budget bill.  Spending out of control!  Mountain of debt!  Economic collapse!  Doom!

Yeah, but where’d he get the budget bill?  From Congress, right?   And Republicans control the Congress, remember?   The Speaker of the House is Paul Ryan, R-Wisc and the Senate Majority Leader is Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.  If those schmucks passed the bill and sent it to Trump for signature, how is it his fault that the country is doomed?  Why didn’t they exercise a little fiscal restraint?

Why is it Trump’s job to battle Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, the Deep State, Democrats and, oh yeah, Republicans, too?

Joe Doakes

Plenty of blame to go around, in my book.

The Resistance

Silicon Valley has turned in to a de facto surveillance state, and is using its power to try to quash Conservative thought on the Internet.

The “#meToo” movement has harnessed the power of the Progressive Herd to co-opt what started as a good message (don’t abuse women!) into a policy bludgeon and a wedge used to shame, bully and censor dissent.

Conservative speech is actively squelched on campus, in many corporations, and in many community groups .

Big Left is relentlessly pimping a bunch of kids who, a month ago, were eating Tide Pods on Youtube, as the great unheard voices of wisdom on gun policy they clearly don’t understand in any way.

And the DC Establishment – Republican and Democrat both – have basically turned into the same, free-spending, debt-blind creature.

Sorry, libs;  the “resistance” in this country is entirely on the right.

Events Of A Feather

Six years ago, Venezuela banned private firearms ownership,  via a piece of legislation that had to have sent a tingle down Linda Slocum, Erin Maye Quade, Jamie Becker-Finn and Dave Pinto’s spines.   It was done to consolidate and reinforce the control of a government that, one might suspect in concept had to have sent a tingle down Linda Slocum, Erin Maye Quade, Jamie Becker-Finn and Dave Pinto’s spines.

Of course, we know the results; socialism degenerated “unexpectedly” into thugocracy (which, being “haves” in a socialist society, wouldn’t not send a tingle down Linda Slocum, Erin Maye Quade, Jamie Becker-Finn and Dave Pinto’s spines, necessarily – socialism is a wonderful thing for the kommissars).

And here we are today.

The left would like you to consider them separate events.

They are not.

In The Money!

SCENE:  Mitch BERG steps out onto his porch to bring in his mail – and is startled to see Avery LIBRELLE looking over the envelopes. 

BERG:  Um, Avery?  What the…

LIBRELLE: Merg!  Venezuela is raising its minimum wage! If they can do it, why can’t we?

BERG:  The “increase” is meaningless.  Just like the ones in the US.

LIBRELLE:  They benefit those who need it most!  The poorest and most vulnerable!

BERG:   Let me ask you this, Avery.  Let’s say that I give you coupons, in payment for waving a sign around at a rally.  Those coupons can be used for one thing – to get mint tea at Whole Foods.

LIBRELLE:  Mmm. . Whole Foods.

BERG:  Right.  Now, I give you two coupons.   One for every four hours of sign waving.

LIBRELLE:  OK.

BERG: But Alida Messinger gives you four coupons.   That’s a coupon every two hours.

LIBRELLE:  I’ll work for Alida.

BERG: Right.  But Whole Foods only has one bag of mint tea left in the store.  At all.  How many coupons is it going to cost?

LIBRELLE:  I don’t get it.

BERG:   You have coupons good for tea.  But there is no tea.  So all your coupons are are pieces of paper given to you in exchange for a day of waving signs.

LIBRELLE:  The correct answer, then, is that my labor – sign-waving – is of intrinsic value, and should be rewarded with tea.

BERG:  Not to Whole Foods, it’s not.    The coupons are just pieces of paper exchangaed for slices of time you spent, er, working.  The sign didn’t get waved twice as much, or twice as hard, or… (looks at LIBRELLE) twice as effectively.  You just got more slips of paper.  But the tea is all gone.

LIBRELLE:  Right, but I still have three more coupons!

BERG:  Which are of no value.  Like the 40% “pay raise” in worthless money that the Venezuelan “poor” will get out of this “raise”.

LIBRELLE: But when they throw off the shackles of the international capistalists, they’ll all be rich!

BERG: Right.  Just like you’ll have three bags of tea when the truck finally arrives at Whole Foods.  Hey – why are you on my porch.

LIBRELLE:  Just checking for thoughtcrime.

(And SCENE)

Sign O The Times?

Big Left seems to thrive on misery.  They seem to love to cling to the notion that things have never been worse, in the nation or the world (or at least they do when there’s no Democrat in the White House).

For example – ask a typical liberal, and they’ll say that “gun violence” is at an all time high.  It’s not – nationwide, it’s at sixty-year lows, and even in Democrat-controlled major cities it’s lower than it was 25 years ago.  And yet if you ask a “progressive” what’s going on in the world, they’ll to a person insist “violent crime is out of control”.

And that’s not the only area.

I mentioned the other day the church service I went to on Christmas Eve, featuring a homily that made it sound like the world was teetering on the the brink of collapse – notwithstanding the fact that, for most of the world, things have never been better.

Don’t get me wrong – the human condition is an ugly thing.  I’m of Scandinavian descent, so optimism and pollyannaism don’t come naturally.   And the arc of the universe, while long, curves inexorably toward tyranny and barbarism.  It could all go south someday.  And there certainly  are wars going on, refugees in camps, pockets of malnutrition.

But for now, for most of the world’s people, things have never been better. As evidence, I submit this:   for the first time in the history of humanity, obesity is a bigger problem than malnutrition, as reported by those noted conservative crazies in The Lancet, in this case via both CNN and an actual news organization (which notes that obesity kills three times as many people worldwide as malnutrition).

This, not fifty years after “experts” like Paul Ehrlich “proved” that mankind was headed for an unavoidable date with Malthusianism ; that poor countries in South Asian and Africa were beyond hope and would need to be “triaged”; that India was, inevitably, going to plunge to a stable population of 100 million, and Subsaharan Africa was going to mostly die off as well.

Bear in mind that throughout all of human history, mankind has always been one bad crop away from mass starvation.  This is the first time in history most people on this planet can take a deep breath and think about a future that goes past the net harvest.

And this is almost entirely due to the success of the free market – even in places that have repudiated free markets!

Again – not that life is a picnic everywhere on earth.  It’s not.  But it’s also never been less dire and threatened.

There’s just no telling that to Big Left.

When Liberals Ask “What’s The Matter With Kansas?”…

…it’s because they want you to focus on the one big “conservative” failure of state governance in recent years [1] – and ignore stories like North Carolina, whose economy is booming under conservative leadership and policies.

Or North Dakota, which weathered the deflation of the oil boom in style (the unemployment rate has never gotten less than a half point lower than Minnesota’s, even at the worst of the deflation).

Or Wisconsin, which after years of heckling from DFLers urging people to compare Mark Dayton’s performance with Scott Walker’s, are pretty silent these days; it took Wisconsin a few years to shake off the dross of six decades of “progressive” control of the economy, but today it’s unemployment rate is statistically identical with Minnesota’s.

Or that of solidly-red Idaho – the nation’s fastest-growing state.

Of course, percentage growth differs from numeric growth — that top title went to Texas, [Huh.  Don’t that beat all? – Ed] which brought in an additional 400,000 residents between July 2016 and July 2017, bringing the Southern state’s total population to 28.3 million people.

Warning to Idahoans:  screen for people fleeing California, Seattle and Denver.  Even as they flee the results of progressivism, they bring the contagion.  Build a wall.

As contrasted with the jewel i the “progressive” crown, Illinois, which is losing about 300 people a day.

Ebenezer, You Dickens

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

If the pre-ghost Ebenezer Scrooge were alive today, he’d be a Liberal.  The post-ghost Scrooge would be a Conservative.

Pre-ghost Scrooge was asked to contribute to a fund for the poor, because Christmas is a time when want is keenly felt and abundance rejoices.  Scrooge declines, citing the Poor Law, Workhouse and Prisons as places for the poor to find help, which he supports through his taxes.  Those who are too proud to take government help should die, and thereby decrease the surplus population.

Bell ringers are not allowed outside Target, where good Liberals shop.  The poor will get no help from holiday shoppers there.

Post-ghost Scrooge continued to support those same institutions but also donated to the fund for the poor and in addition, took a personal interest in Tiny Tim’s welfare, digging into his own pocket to pay for medical care.

Conservatives routinely give more to charity than Liberals.

“A Christmas Carol” is not only a heart-warming story of personal redemption, but also a piercing commentary on politics that has lost none of its relevance.

Joe Doakes

Pre-ghost Scrooge obeyed one iron-clad “progressive” tenet; he saw people, individuals, as liabilities to be supported to everyone’s detriment.  Post-ghost, he saw them as the miracles a good conservative sees.

I’ll alliow it.

What’s The Only Thing…

…better than watching Real Americans of all races, faiths and ideologies cutting the crap and helping each other out in a jam?

Across the [area affected by Hurricane Harvey], Americans are coming together to help each other. Despite the racial divisions exacerbated by small numbers of fanatics on the left and right, (and amplified by the press), out in the real America white people, black people and Asians helped each other, men rescued women and children, and so on. The “Cajun Navy,” which had so distinguished itself in response to flooding in Louisiana, took its boats to Texas and started saving people.

Why, it’s watching Big Left crabbling about it:

People who spontaneously organize impressive responses might make the public feel as though government doesn’t have all the answers, and that self-reliance beats waiting for the government to solve their problems.  Why, that’s troubling.

Something like this mental process must have prompted New Yorker editor David Remnick to greenlight this article, titled “Why does American need the Cajun Navy?”

I saw somebody on Facebook yesterday saying “I hate it when people in low-tax states ask the Feds for help”.   To which I replied “everyone pays the same federal taxes, for the same federal “Services”, including disaster aid; if coastal states pay more per capita, it’s because incomes and cost of living are higher – and since when do you people not support progressive taxation?”

By the way – does it seem to anyone else that “low-tax, low-service” Texas’ response to Harvey, one of the great catastophes in American history, is going a lot better than high-tax, high-“service” New York, New Jersey and Connecticut’s response to the fairly mundane Sandy?

Rationed

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Which is the most efficient way to bring down prices: government dictate, or free market?

Warren Buffet seems to be saying government is a more efficient way to bring down prices, therefore America should embrace the single-payer model of health care used in Britain, Canada, Cuba, the Veteran’s Administration, etc.  He is mistaken.  He’s great at reading balance sheets, lousy at political economic theory.

I agree that government-run health care could theoretically control prices.  They’d simply pass a law: nobody can charge more than $1.00 for any medical procedure, device or drug.  There, see?  Prices contained.  Aspirin.  Heart transplant.  Everything’s a dollar.  In theory.

In practice, it won’t work.  People who provide medical services can’t afford to provide them at that price.  Either they stop providing medical services, or they go off-book somehow. Maybe all the doctors move to Mexico where they can charge fair prices.  Maybe all the medical device companies move to Poland where the government welcomes investment and doesn’t try to kill it.  Capital – including human capital – is mobile.

Hillary recognized this problem when she invented Hillarycare in 1992.  Her solution: draft all the doctors and treat them as members of the military.  You want to practice medicine in America?  Then you go where you’re told and do as you’re told.  In the past, you may have been a plastic surgeon making millions in Hollywood; today, you’re a gynecologist on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation making the same pay as any other Captain in the Army.  Don’t like it?  Turn in your medical license. This is not an incentive for people to study 10 years to become a doctor.

It doesn’t work on the other end, either.  People who desire medical services have no incentive to forego care under a single-payer system.  Got a sniffle?  Run to the doctor, it’s free.  So the lines get longer and longer until patients die waiting for an appointment, which already has happened at the VA.  Or health care committees decide which patients are deserving of medical treatment and which should be denied treatment, which already has happened in Britain.  Or doctors decide which patients should be helped to die and thereby reduce caseloads, which some Dutch doctors already are doing.  The rich can afford to fly to wherever the doctors are, and to pay out of pocket for medical care.  The poor and middle class will be promised free medical care but won’t get it, facing endless waiting lists and rationed care.

“Single-payer” is simply another way of saying “wage-and-price controls.”  They didn’t work when Diocletian tried them and never have worked since.  I confidently predict they won’t work now.

Joe Doakes

They did wonders for the US economy in the seventies.

You remember what a greaet time the seventies were, rigtht?

Lather, Rinse, Poison, Repeat

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Some experts believe the policies that led to the 2008 real estate collapse are still in place leaving us as vulnerable to a real estate bubble as before. They are mistaken.  We’re worse off than before because now we have newer and even stupider ideas to help preferred minorities qualify for home loans such as counting all incomes in the household toward the loan.

The problem was explained in 2010 by Glenn Reynolds:

“The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.”

And that’s the best-case scenario, when the government isn’t actively working to destroy middle-class values by subsidizing bad decisions and penalizing good (but politically incorrect) decisions.

The divide between the wealthy and the wretched ever widens and Liberals cannot fathom why.  It’s because of Berg’s 21st Law: Liberal Policies Destroy Liberal Values.

Joe Doakes

That one’s almost beyond mere “law.

Not The Dumbest Idea They’ve Had

Venezuela responds to US moves to deal with the unraveling of Venezuelan economic life:

“The ‘contact group’ you’re proposing is completely useless and unnecessary,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez fumed at a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cancun, Mexico.

“The only way you could impose it would be to send in your Marines — who would meet with a crushing response from Venezuela if they dared make such a misstep.”

Getting conquered may be the only way to save Venezuela.

“It’s Not True Socia…Well, You Know…”

The media are barely covering the political and human catastrophe unfolding in Venezuela:

Out of approximately 50,000 total evening news stories on ABC, CBS and NBC combined in the last four years, just 25 have covered the ongoing crisis in socialist Venezuela, according to a Media Research Center study published Tuesday….

…and they certainly aren’t slopping the blame over to…well…you know…:

…out of the 50,000 total evening news stories on the three networks, just 25 covered Venezuela, and only seven mentioned “socialism.”

For many journos, it’s the “ideal” they were raised to revere (minus all the misery and bloodshed;

And for others ? Free markets are a lot harder to cover than planned ones; covering a free market would involve learning, rather than talking with highly-placed planning officials.

For The Millennial In Your Life

Animal Farm, a Brit animated feature from the fifties, looks like a Disney feature – but it’s a pretty faithful re-telling of Orwell’s classic tale of the inevitable results of socialism.

It’s actually easy enough to find links to the film – most of which link back to sketchy download sites.  This version – Arabic subtitles and all – is the only full-length freebie I’ve found.

And it’s worth a watch:

Although you can pretty much watch video from Venezuela today and get the same results.

High Time

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I understand Republicans saying they had to vote for this crappy spending bill because now is not a good time to stand up for our principles.  Okay, you guys are the experts, I’ll trust your judgment.
It’s just that I’ve been voting Republican for nearly 40 years and I haven’t seen you stand up for me yet.  Never quite enough votes for a super-majority and always the danger of being called names by the media.
I’m really interested to know: will it be time to stand up for our principles soon, do you think?
Joe Doakes

The time is never quite right, is it?

Life Imitates Blog

Ten years or so ago, during the heyday of the political blog, some of us – conservatives with fond memories of the punk era in music – quipped “conservatism is the new punk”.

In places like Minneapolis and Saint Paul, it’s still pretty true; conservatives and conservatism are the counterculture, the disruption, the sound of the gleeful underdog that makes the establishment froth with rage.

And life today is imitating us.

Continue reading

That Which Can’t Be Sustained, Won’t Be

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Every year for the last 40 years, the United States has run short of money in the budget.  To fill the shortfall, the General Fund borrowed from the Social Security fund, but that still wasn’t enough.  To make ends meet, we borrowed even more.  The total accumulated debt is now $20,000,000,000,000.  That’s twenty trillion, with a T.

 That number does not include the cost of promises the government will be obligated to pay in the future such as Social Security and Medicare, the 20 trillion number is only the total of the promissory notes signed to fund government operations in the past.  Covering the cost of all government promises is closer to 100 trillion, give or take, depending on who you talk to.

 We’re not paying down the debt.  We’re making the minimum monthly payments on existing debt while running up ever more debt, month after month, with no end in sight.

 I don’t care whose fault it is.

 No, I really don’t care whose fault it is.  Finger-pointing and blaming is useless blather, at this point.

 I want to know what we’re going to do about it.

 The reason it comes up is because Republicans in Congress are talking about reforming Obama-care to make it affordable enough that the government can continue to offer the program, but Democrats are screaming the reforms will make the program unaffordable for individual citizens.  Both have fair points.  Both fail to address my point.

 Can government programs run in the red forever?  Can public debt be accumulated forever?  Is there literally no limit to how much debt we can run up?

If so, why?  That’s not true for private individuals or corporations.  If it’s true for government, there must be a reason why it’s true.  What’s the reason?

 Joe Doakes

Let’s ask Paul Krugman.

For The Miseducated Liberal In Your Life

We’re in the opening stages of a mayoral race in Saint Paul.

Now, the various stakeholders and activists are doing what they do – thinking big talks, dreaming big dreams via the political system.  As to what I think this city  actually needs from a new mayor?  It’s irrelevant.   We can want whatever we want – but Saint Paul is a one-party town, and what we will get is someone who’s kissed enough DFL-special-interest ass to rise to the top of the oligarchy,   Someone who will give a vigorous speech or two declaiming how his or her repackaging of 1960s liberal orthodoxy is fresh and new and will bring all the changes that the previous mayor’s repackaging of orthodoxy didn’t.  

Leading to 4-12 years of big government-driven stagnation

Part of the problem is that Saint Paul DFLers think that prosperity is something that government, at any level, can bring via careful planning.   It’s a common conceit on the left.

To speak to that, I’d like to make the essay “I, Pencil” mandatory reading for everyone in this country.  The 1958 essay by Leonard Reed, talks about the impossible complexity of building that humblest of tools of the modern world, the #2 Pencil, and how there is not a single person on the entire planet that can create and assemble a pencil, from scratch, with all of its precursors (cedar, graphite, clay, wax, zinc, tin, rubber and petroleum paint, plus the materials and labor that go into producing each of them).  And this complexity is multiplied, and exponentialized, with things that are more complicated – bicycles, cell phones, trains, cars, the Internet.  

And if  you were waiting for the movie?  Here it is:

The idea that a bunch of “political scientists” can legislate, plan or dictate this failing city to prosperity, even if they focus on that (rather than “inclusion” and other social justice fripperies) is…

…well, the status quo in Saint Paul.

It Worked For Kirk

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Volkswagen takes over from Toyota as number one carmaker in the world, despite the scandal of being caught cheating on emissions tests.

 

“Despite” the scandal?  Or because of it?  Emissions tests are idiotic and anyone clever enough and bold enough to beat them probably has other good qualities.

From what I understand, it’s standard practice when dealing with the EPA that the actual total emissions are not lowered, they are simply diluted by forcing more clean air or water or whatever through the same discharge outlet.  Too many parts per million of soot coming out the smoke stack?  Don’t lower the total pollutants per pound of fuel used, or per erg of power generated, just increase the total air moving up the smoke stack by installing huge blowers to force more air into the final exhaust.  Tried and approved methods, used widely throughout industry, approved by the EPA.  

 As I understand it, that’s essentially what VW did to pass the test.  But they turned off those useless blowers anytime there was no monitor testing the output since by shutting off the blowers they saved the energy that doesn’t alter the total pollutants one iota, and that energy was diverted to actual work product that moves the car, hence better miles per gallon.  

 The EPA is pissed because VW beat the Kobayashi Maru.

 Joe Doakes

It’s not, fooling Mother Bureaucracy.