Category Archives: Liberals/Progressives

The Clintons — At the End of All Things

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Epic greed, power, and pride: Where’s the bottom? With Bill and Hillary, there’s no telling.

VDH crushes another one……and the Clintons along the way.

What was the Clinton telos? The end point, the aim of all their lying, cheating, criminality, dishonor, and degradation?

Given the latest Weiner scandals coming on top of the latest WikiLeaks scandals, we wonder, what did the Clintons really wish to end up as — and why? Are they Goethe’s Faust or tortured souls crushed by the weight of their money bags in Dante’s Fourth Circle of Hell?

For a few criminals, remorse comes with old age; but for the Clintons, near-70 was to be the capstone, the last chance to trump all their prior shenanigans. They were artists of amorality, and the election of 2016 was to be their magnum opus.

Collate the FBI reopened investigation, WikiLeaks Podesta trove, revelations about the Clinton Foundation, the e-mail–server scandal, the DNC disclosures, and the various off-the-cuff campaign remarks of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and one then ponders what was the point of the Clinton shakedowns, the loss of reputation, the crude lawbreaking, as they neared their seventh decade. To paraphrase Barack Obama, in his progressive sermonizing on making enough money, did the two ever think they had enough money, enough honors, enough power already?

The Hillary/Bill fortune — generated by pay-for-play influence peddling on the proposition that Bill would return to the White House under Hillary’s aegis and reward friends while punishing enemies — hit a reported $150 million some time ago, a fortune built not on farming, mining, insurance, finance, high-tech, or manufacturing, but on skimming off money. The Clintons are simply grifters whose insider access to government gave them the power to make rich people richer.

Long gone was the Scrooge-like need to write off used underwear as charitable tax deductions or to play 4-trillion-to-one odds in rigging a $100,000 cattle-futures profit on a $1,000 “investment,” or Hillary’s decade-and-a-half as a corporate lawyer masquerading as a children’s advocate. How pathetic the minor league Whitewater cons must seem now to the multimillionaire Clintons — such a tawdry ancient example of amateurish shakedowns when compared with the sophistication of real profiteering through the humanitarian-sounding, high-brow, corrupt Clinton Foundation.

So the Clintons finally got their millions and what such millions can ensure for their separate lifestyles. They have at last beautiful gated estates, tasteful and secluded from hoi polloi, light years away from Arkansas and the Rose Law Firm. Progressive Chelsea married a multimillionaire hedge-fund operator whose father served five years in federal prison for bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Her parents’ profiteering can allow Chelsea to announce, perhaps even sincerely, that she is not interested in money. Why should she be, given her own reported $15 million net worth from maternal spin-off favors? She lives in a $10 million Manhattan residence, so her parents had no motivation to get more in order to “provide” for their offspring. Instead, was bringing Chelsea down to Bill and Hillary’s level as a Foundation fixer a way to leave her a post mortem primer on how to get even richer?

In sum, there was certainly no need for Hillary to even have considered flying to the Moroccan autocracy on the eve of announcing her presidential candida to leverage a $12 million speaking “fee” from a cut-throat Moroccan mining company, Why the drive to pile profits on top of profits on top of profits? Or, as Hillary’s top aide, Huma Abedin, put it of the quid pro quo fee (i.e., the mining company felt that it had gotten from the Clinton-run State Department a U.S.-financed Export-Import Bank loan of $92 million):

This was HRC’s idea, our office approached the Moroccans and they 100 percent believe they are doing this at her request.

Translated: A President Hillary Clinton would probably have no regret that dozens of heads of state, the majority of them dictatorial and not especially friendly to the U.S., would feel that they had done business with Hillary and Bill — and she, as a recipient of their largess, would owe them commensurate attention.

Why did multimillionaire Hillary charge UCLA, in the era of thousands of indebted students, $300,000 (rather than, say, $149,999.99) for a brief, platitudinous speech? Why did multimillionaire Bill need more than $17 million for being honorary “chancellor” of the financially for-profit but tottering Laureate University (whose spin-off associate organization was a recipient of State Department largesse)? Did he think the extra millions were worth the embarrassment of being the highest-paid and least-busy college executive in U.S. history?

Apparently, the good life did not drive the Clintons so much as the quest for the supposed best life. Even though they had finally “made it” among the multimillionaire set, the Clintons always saw others (no doubt, deemed by them less deserving) with far, far more — whether Jeffery Epstein, with his ability to jet wherever and with whomever he pleased, or green half-a-billionaire Al Gore, who ran even more successful cons, such as rapidly selling a worthless cable TV station to beat impending capital-gains taxes, and selling it to none other than the anti-Semitic Al Jazeera, whose carbon-generated profits come from autocratic Qatar. (The media never audited Gore’s attempt to become a cable mogul, unlike their current concerns about a potential Trump media outlet).

The rich did not pressure the Clintons for paid favors as much as they sought out the Clintons as targets for graft. They certainly understand and smile at Hillary’s boilerplate promise of “making the rich pay their fair share” — the mantra of those who are worth over $100 million and immune from the impact of any tax hikes, or, for that matter, immune from any consequences whatsoever of their own ideology.

The Clintons suffer from greed, as defined by Aristotle: endless acquisition solely for the benefit of self. With their insatiable appetites, they resented the limits that multimillionaire status put on them, boundaries they could bypass only by accumulating ever greater riches. The billion-dollar foundation squared the circle of progressive politicians profiting from the public purse by offering a veneer of “doing good” while offering free luxury travel commensurate with the style of the global rich, by offering sinecures for their loyal but otherwise unemployable cronies, and by spinning off lobbying and speaking fees (the original font of their $100-million-plus personal fortune and the likely reason for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s decision to put all her communications, mercantile included, on a private server safe from government scrutiny). Acquiring money to the extent that money would become superfluous was certainly a Clinton telos — and the subtext of the entire Podesta trove and the disclosures about the Clinton Foundation.

Power and pride were the other catalyst for Clinton criminality. I don’t think progressive politics mattered much to the Clintons, at least compared with what drives the more sincere Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Hillary, like Bill, has no real political beliefs — though she doesn’t hesitate to pursue a mostly opportunistic progressive political agenda. By temperament and background, the Clintons are leftists and will follow a leftist vision, sort of, but one predicated on doing so within the constraints of obtaining and keeping power.

Trade deals? Hillary is flexible given the fickle public mood. Fracking? It depends on where the money is. The Keystone Pipeline? What are the pros and cons in key swing states? Wall Street criminality? One has to distinguish a wink-and-nod political façade from a private flexibility. Gay marriage? She can reluctantly “evolve” under pressure. Immigration? It hinges on Latino demography in swing states, and how bothersome, as their aides put it, “needy” Latinos and “brown” op-ed writers become. Black Lives Matter? Had the black vote not won Obama the 2008 and 2012 elections, Hillary would probably have persisted in Bill’s 1990’s mode (when he condemned rap singer Sister Soulja for her racism and her anti-white rhetoric) and in her own critique of black “super predators,” as she called gang members in 1996.

For the Clintons, power is the narcotic of being sought out, of being surrounded by retainers, of bringing enemies to heel and enticing sycophants with benefits. Liberalism and progressivism are mere social and cultural furniture, the “correct” politics of their background that one mouths and exploits to obtain and maintain political clout — and to get really, really rich without guilt or apology.

As in the quest for lucre, the Clintons’ appetite for high-profile authority is endless. Just as $150 million seemed as nothing compared with the billions and billions raked in by their friends and associates, so too eight years in the White House, tenure as governor, senator, or secretary of state were never enough. In between such tenures, the Clintons suffered droughts when they were not on center stage and in no position to wield absolute power, as they watched less deserving folk (the Obamas perhaps in particular) gain inordinate attention. A Hillary presidency would give the Clintons unprecedented Peronist-like power, in a manner unlike any couple in American history.

Of course, the Clintons are not only corrupt but cynical as well. They accept that the progressive media, the foundations, the universities, the bureaucracies, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley honor power more than trendy left-wing politics; they well understand that their fans will, for them, make the necessary adjustments to contextualize Clinton criminality or amorality. Sexual predations, the demonization of women, graft, and unequal protection under the law are also of no consequence to the inbred, conflicted, and morally challenged media – who will always check in with the Clinton team, like errant dogs who scratch the backdoor of their master after a periodic runaway.

The Clintons have contempt for the media precisely because the media are so obsequious. They smile, that, like themselves, the media are easily manipulated and compromised — to the extent of offering their articles, before publication, for Clinton approval (as the New York Times’ Mark Leibovich did; leaking debate questions to the Clinton campaign (as Donna Brazile did); or saying (as Politico’s chief political correspondent did), “I have become a hack. . . .  Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this Tell me if I f**ked up anything.” The Clintons view such sycophants not with affection, but with disdain, given that they are moochers no better than the Clintons, with the same base desires, albeit better camouflaged by their pretense of objectivity.

To paraphrase Demosthenes’s warning of the impending arrival of the war-scarred and half-blind Philip II, the Clintons have devoted their lives, their health, their very bodies and souls to get where they are. And their visible scars prove it.

They have long ago lost any sense of shame — Bill is hourly caricatured as a sexual predator, and the best that can be said of Hillary’s character is that the bankrupt Left shrugs, “She may be a crook, but she’s our crook.” In Dorian Gray fashion, their sins are now imprinted on their faces and visible in their tremors. They were and are capable of any and everything.

And one wonders whether, in fleeting seconds here at the end of things, they still believe that it was all worth what they have become.

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Unleash the Producers, Not the Parasites

In his wonderful book, The Rational Optimist, Matt Ridley explores the ways in which trade and commerce have propelled innovation and well-being.  Ridley presents evidence that for the last 100,000 years, humans have engaged in trade and that the rise of complex civilizations can be tied to the exchange of ideas associated with trade.  So widespread and deep-seated is this instinct for exchange that, according to Ridley, it is evidence of a fundamental genetic propensity in Homo sapiens.  The human brain is hardwired to engage in all forms of exchange – commercial, social, and intellectual – and the result is an ever-improving quality of life.

Ridley is indeed an “optimist,” but he is realistic enough to know that government can strangle innovation by preying upon private enterprise.  Human history is full of examples of great civilizations brought low by the parasitic inclinations of powerful rulers – the kind of rulers who now govern our nation by executive order rather than by the rule of law.  Under the weight of these parasites, as Ridley shows, civilization stagnates or regresses to earlier stages of development.

A simple count of U.S. patent awards confirms that the Obama era has not been good for innovation and exchange.  The percentage of U.S.-based patent awards is now at an all-time low, having continued its decades-long decline during Obama’s presidency.  Instead of “saving the middle class,” as he often boasts of doing, Obama has overseen further erosion of national innovation and prestige.

As for prosperity, recent data for U.S. family income has been dismal.  Median household income has never recovered the high of the Bush years, when it reached $57,357 in 2007.  In 2015, according to the U.S. census, it was $52,250.  And for workers in the lowest quintile, the very ones Obama and Hillary Clinton claim to champion, it was $11,676 (2014 figure).  One fifth of American families are living on less than $12,000 per year.  That is the shameful truth of the Obama years.

Yet in February, Hillary Clinton told voters that Obama hasn’t received “the credit he deserves.”  She has repeatedly stated that she intends to defend “Obama’s legacy,” but that is a legacy of poverty for most American workers.  The reason Obama has such an abominable record is that he has smothered innovation and investment under the weight of increased taxes and regulation.  And the intent and effect of new taxes and regulation are to transfer wealth and power to Washington.

Ridley’s book helps us understand that the Obama stranglehold on business is nothing new.  For as long as innovation and exchange have existed, there have been kings, dictators, and democratic socialists eager to cash in.  In practically every great society, “governments gradually employ more and more ambitious elites who capture a greater and greater share of society’s income by interfering more and more in people’s lives as they give themselves more and more rules to enforce” (Ridley, p. 182).  Ultimately, the productive society stagnates and dies out, and innovation and commerce move elsewhere.

This is precisely the tipping point at which America now stands.  The evidence of business moving elsewhere is not hard to find.  Despite frantic attempts on the part of the Obama administration to prevent them, tax inversions are taking place with greater frequency and on a larger scale than before.  Treasury’s new rules designed to block inversions will not be successful.  By making corporate inversions less desirable, they will only spur foreign buy-outs of American businesses by foreign firms.

Not only are new rules unsuccessful in preventing corporate inversions, but they impose a huge burden on businesses of all sizes.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the latest Treasury Department ban on “earnings stripping” “mainly punishes companies that aren’t leaving the country.”  And by weakening businesses, Treasury’s new regulations further reduce wages for American workers.

What’s revealing is Secretary Lew’s rationale for blocking tax inversions.  Lew has said nothing, so far as I know, about advancing productivity or promoting innovation.  What seems to worry the administration is loss of federal revenue.  The parasites in Washington truly believe that every dime produced by private enterprise belongs to government, to do with as it wills.  What really upsets them is the possibility that some portion of that money might escape their control.

The parasites are so numerous that a full list would include practically every prominent figure on the left working in government, media, and academe.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren, the progressive activist near the top of Hillary Clinton’s V.P. list.  Even in its brief history, the CFPB has succeeded in imposing thousands of costly new regulations, including new rules that would provide consumers (and their lawyers) new avenues for suing banks and credit card companies by restricting arbitration clauses in financial contracts.  In 2015 alone, the CFPB doubled the number of prosecutions of businesses.  According to Tony Alexis, the CFPB’s director of enforcement, the agency plans to be “particularly active” in 2016.  Is there a better example of government parasites run amuck?

Well, yes, there is.  Eric Schneiderman’s attempted shakedown of ExxonMobil may be the best example yet of the tendency of those in authority to parasitize the productive labor of others.  The New York attorney general, joined by A.G.s from Massachusetts, California, and the Virgin Islands, is seeking reams of documents (stretching back as far as 40 years) relating to Exxon’s stance on global warming.  Exxon has pushed back on these demands, filing its own charges against Virgin Islands A.G. Claude Walker.  Apparently, these state A.G.s hope to catch the oil giant in an inadvertent misrepresentation and proceed to a lucrative settlement – while opening up the company for class action lawsuits on the part of “wronged” investors and other groups.  It’s the same playbook that has fettered American banks, auto companies, pharmaceutical companies, and countless others ever since Obama took office.  Investigate without real proof, sue, settle, and transfer assets from investors to Washington.

In the face of such attacks, it is no wonder that the economy has stagnated throughout Obama’s term.  Companies are now crushed with hundreds of thousands of rules, and they are deterred from new investments by the fear of lawsuits.  Under the weight of this government interference, as well as the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, there are only three rational options for corporate leaders.  (1) Accept de facto nationalization and the restrictions that come with it; (2) defer investment and hiring, and return profits to investors by way of dividends and share buybacks; or (3) relocate to a less onerous environment via a corporate inversion or outright buyout by a foreign company.  For businesses that wish to expand, the third option is the obvious choice.

If we are not to suffer the fate of past civilizations, we must expel the parasites who now control our economy and who will continue controlling it if Hillary Clinton is elected.  The Washington elite are terrified by Donald Trump because he is serious about making America great again – and he knows that the only way to do so is the kick the parasites out.  Trump’s announced policies on taxes and regulation make perfect sense.  They would free up American businesses to compete on a level playing field.  They appeal to one of the most basic human instincts: the desire to produce more and retain the proceeds.

For eight years, the Obama administration has undermined our nation’s competitive instincts.  It’s time to unleash them by putting producers first – and putting parasites in their place.
h/t  Jeffrey Folks


Smartly Stupid

Daniel Greenfield nearly makes every sentence a great quote…..

The infrastructure of manufactured intelligence has become a truly impressive thing. Today as never before there is an industry dedicated, not to educating people, but to making them feel smart. From paradigm shifting TED talks by thought leaders and documentaries by change agents that promise to transform your view of the world, manufactured intelligence has become its own culture.

We all know that George W. Bush was a moron. And we all know that Obama is a genius. We have been told by Valerie Jarrett, by his media lapdogs and even by the great man himself that he is just too smart to do his job. And it’s reasonable that a genius would be bored by the tedious tasks involved in running the most powerful nation on earth.

But what is “smart” anyway? What makes Obama a genius? It’s not his IQ. It’s probably not his grades or we would have seen them already. It’s that like so many of the thought leaders and TED talkers, he makes his supporters feel smart. The perception of intelligence is really a reflection.

Smart once used to be an unreachable quality. Einstein was proclaimed a genius, because it was said that no one understood his theories. Those were undemocratic times when it was assumed that the eggheads playing with the atom had to be a lot smarter than us or we were in big trouble.

Intelligence has since been democratized. Smart has been redistributed. Anyone can get an A for effort. And the impulse of manufactured intelligence is not smart people, but people who make us feel smart.

Self-esteem is the new intelligence. Obama’s intelligence was manufactured by pandering to the biases and tastes of his supporters. The more he shared their biases and tastes, the smarter he seemed to be and the smarter they felt by having so much in common with such a smart man.

Intelligence to a modern liberal isn’t depth, it’s appearance. It isn’t even an intellectual quality, but a spiritual quality. Compassionate people who care about others are always “smarter”, no matter how stupid they might be, because they care about the world around them.

Obama and his audience mistake their orgy of mutual flattery for intelligence and depth. Like a trendy restaurant whose patrons know that they have good taste because they patronize it, his supporters know that they are smart because they support a smart man and Obama knows he is smart because so many smart people support him.

The thought never rises within this bubble of manufactured intelligence that all of them might really be idiots who have convinced themselves that they are geniuses because they read the right books (or pretend to read them), watch the right movies and shows (or pretend to) and have the right values (or pretend to).

The supreme duty of the modern liberal intellectual is not to be smart, but to make others feel smart. Genuine intelligence is threatening. Manufactured intelligence is soothing. And those intellectually superior progressives who need to believe that Obama is smart in order to believe that they are smart cannot stop believing in his brains without confronting the illusion of their own intelligence.

Manufactured intelligence is a consensus, not a debate. It’s not arrived at through a process, but flopped into like a warm soothing bath of nothingness. It’s correct because everyone says so. Real intelligence is the product of constant debate. It is not easy or simple. It is a collision, not a consensus.

Manufactured intelligence is self-involved. It mistakes feeling for thinking. It deals not with how things are or even how we would like them to be, but how we feel about the way things are and what our feelings about the way things are say about what kind of people we are.

Liberal intelligence is largely concerned with the latter. It is a self-esteem project for mediocre elites.

Perpetual self-involvement isn’t intelligence regardless of how many of the linguistic tricks of memoir fiction it borrows to endow its liberal self-help section with the appearance of nobility.

Liberalism isn’t really about making the world a better place. It’s about reassuring the elites that they are good people for wanting to rule over it.

That is why Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize for having good intentions. His actual foreign policy mattered less than the appearance of a new transformative foreign policy based on speeches. Gore promised to be be harsher on Saddam than Bush, but no one remembers that because everyone in the bubble knows that the Iraq War was stupid… and only conservatives do stupid things.

Liberal intelligence exists on the illusion of its self-worth. The magical thinking that guides it in every other area from economics to diplomacy also convinces it that if it believes it is smart, that it will be. The impenetrable liberal consensus in every area is based on this delusion of intelligence. Every policy is right because it’s smart and it’s smart because it’s progressive and it’s progressive because smart progressives say that it is.

Progressives manufacture the consensus of their own intelligence and insist that it proves them right.

 


The Clintons

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Hillary has finally gotten around to condemning her husband.

Daniel Greenfield  has assembled a gem….. Remember When Bill Clinton was Putting Illegal Aliens on “Boxcars“?

Remembering President Bill Clinton:

“We won’t tolerate immigration by people whose first act is to break the law as they enter our country. We must continue to do everything we can to strengthen our borders, enforce our laws, and remove illegal aliens from our country.

As I said in my State of the Union Address, we are a nation of immigrants, but we’re also a nation of laws. And it is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years.

This week, I sent strong legislation to Congress to try to stop those abuses, to secure our borders in the future, and to speed up deportation of illegal immigrants.”

And listen to this Trumpe-esque position:

“Now, let me talk a little bit about increasing deportations. Our plan will triple the number of criminal and other deportable aliens deported since 1993. We want to focus on the criminal population or on those who are charged with crimes but who are here illegally. Every day, illegal aliens show up in court who are charged. Some are guilty, and surely, some are innocent. Some go to jail, and some don’t. But they’re all illegal aliens, and whether they’re innocent or guilty of the crime they’re charged with in court, they’re still here illegally and they should be sent out of the country.

If they’re sentenced to jail, they should go to jail. But then after their term is over, they should be removed from the United States. And when there is a plea bargain, I want deportation to be part of the deal.”

The left’s mastery of “I was for it before I was against it” mantra continues on.

 


How We Decide To Vote

Dennis Prager continues his series on left/right differences with this observation:

And feelings — not reason — is what liberalism is largely about. Reason asks: “Does it do good?” Liberalism asks, “Does it feel good?”

He goes through any number of excellent examples from the minimum wage debate to the self-esteem movement, but he does not examine the effects of of this observation on voting patterns and how much it has crept from left to center, and maybe even right.

While it is completely politically incorrect to say it, it seems baldly apparent that this phenomena played more than a small role in the two elections of our current president.  But my real concern is what role it will play in the coming election, and especially in the GOP primary. Continue Reading

Here’s Differences Between Left and Right: Part I

and….Differences Between Left and Right, Part II: Battling Society vs. Battling Yourself


Thought for the Day……..

On Dennis Prager’s radio program a caller called in with this gem:

“If drugs are available and eagerly provided for euthanasia, why are they not available and eagerly provided for the death penalty”?


Understanding Problems and Solutions

Dennis Prager begins a series on understanding the differences between Left and Right in National Review:

Material poverty doesn’t cause murder, rape, or terror. Moral poverty does. That’s one of the great divides between Left and Right. And it largely emanates from their differing views about whether human nature is innately good.

I read that and I was stunned because the viewpoint not only affects how we understand the problem, but also how we try to solve it.  My thoughts were steered in part by this article from London:

But it’s hard not to notice that recent Second World War anniversaries have been rather low-key affairs, with an emphasis on grief and remembrance.

Maybe nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. The 50th anniversary of V-E Day, when I was 13 years old, was an unashamed celebration of the triumph of good over evil. There was a street party, Union Jack bunting, jelly and ice cream. We sang war songs full of blue birds, white cliffs and Lucifer matches. Of course, many people did similar things to mark the occasion in 2015. But 1995 was bigger and more loudly patriotic.

The author discusses how moral relativism has affected the modern view of the war, and he is right – but it goes even deeper.  We do not want to face the evil that was Nazi Germany, an evil that it is worth celebrating victory over, because it will force us to acknowledge the bad in ourselves and once we do that so much around us will come crashing in.

You see, when we acknowledge the bad in ourselves we are forced to turn apart from ourselves for solutions.  When we acknowledge the bad in ourselves we learn that no program, government or private, can fix all our problems.  Such things, because they are made of people, are as prone to corruption as we are individually.  Final solutions require something incorruptible – something other than us.

That’s a pretty good place to start defining God – incorruptible and other than us.

Caveat – human institutions devoted to God are as prone to corruption as human institutions of a purely secular nature.  Again, they are made up of very corruptible people.  But because they are devoted to God, they contain within them a self-corrective – they will at some juncture look outside of themselves and discover their corruption, and hopefully attempt to correct it.  Absent such a look outside of the self the horrors of Nazism, or something like it, becomes almost inevitable.

And so again we see the value of religion in ordering society.  It helps us understand our limitations as well as our capabilities.  When we understand our limitations we craft our solutions to problems with those limitations in mind.  When we understand the bad that is in us we understand the wisdom in the instruction to “lean not on your own understanding.”