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More of the Vicious Progressive Playbook Becomes Evident

Writing about James O’Keefe’s latest videos and one of its central characters, Democrat operative Robert Creamer, Stanley Kurtz notes that he’s a long-time ally of Barack Obama’s.  Kurtz’s essay ends with a quote from a book that Creamer wrote while in jail for financial crimes, and it casts light not only on the behavior of our current president and the amped up gaslighting many have observed in recent months and years, but also the strategies of progressive activists all the way down to the local level:

In general our strategic goal with people who have become conservative activists is not to convert them—that isn’t going to happen. It is to demoralize them—to ‘deactivate’ them. We need to deflate their enthusiasm, to make them lose their ardor and above all their self-confidence…[A] way to demoralize conservative activists is to surround them with the echo chamber of our positions and assumptions. We need to make them feel that they are not mainstream, to make them feel isolated… We must isolate them ideologically…[and] use the progressive echo chamber…By defeating them and isolating them ideologically, we demoralize conservative activists directly. Then they begin to quarrel among themselves or blame each other for defeat in isolation, and that demoralizes them further.

It would go too far to assume that Creamer’s book is a hidden guide that progressives prominent and unknown have memorized, but the above does indicate that such notions are in the air among them, and the standard rhetoric of progressives across the board proves that Creamer isn’t on his own in promoting these sentiments.

Most disconcerting is his emphasis on demoralization.  This is war to progressives.  The first assumption that non-progressives should make is that they are not really interested in dialogue, consensus, and harmonious living.  They want power and “the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless,” as Orwell put it.

Adding this tidbit to the running list of revelations about how the Clinton camp, the Democrat Party, and progressives generally think and operate, perhaps the most critical lesson for conservatives is that it is a strategic ruse.  Knowing what it is should help us to avoid feeling demoralized, as they desire.  Take their insults and their insistence that we’re alone as fuel, as reason to persist.

As for the advisable counter strategy, at this level of spiritual warfare (which is ultimately what this is) fighting fire with fire will not work, particularly where they have the advantage, which they do in popular culture.  Rather, we have to fight fire with water, which means upholding standards, adhering to a principle that everybody has value and deserves our attention and patience, and simply being better people than they are.  Judging from Creamer’s writings and O’Keefe’s videos, that shouldn’t be difficult to do.

People are generally good, and few can keep up a strategy that requires them to be unjust if their victims don’t reinforce the bullies’ hatred with a sense that it’s kill or be killed.


Unsightly Yoga Pants, Unsightly Politics

Rhode Islanders’ first reaction to the Providence Journal’s front page, today, might be, “What? A local yoga-pants letter-to-the-editor controversy on the front page?”  With some meta-analysis, though, the story’s a bit too perfect.

The most obvious observation is that the story is another contribution to the Hillary Clinton campaign, in the long line of stories to build up her woman-power narrative.  In this regard, the Providence Journal is just playing its role fomenting division and separating people from each other so politicians in the Democrat Party can capitalize on people’s aggravation and feelings of disconnect and powerlessness.

The story could also be seen as an upscale community’s sit-com take on current events, as a commentary on liberals’ fascist urge to escalate every issue to the point of personal confrontation and violence for the express purpose of forcing others to back down.  In Orwell’s 1984 the Party lured citizens into violations in order to crack down on them and make them suffer.  That was the point.  Party boss O’Brien tells our hero, Winston, the following.  (I quote the most relevant part, but readers should find the long paragraph in the middle of the page and read it for its astonishing relevance to our time)

There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever.

Some women (and men) are planning a parade in yoga pants down the street of a man who did nothing but express an opinion about appropriate clothing (published in a forum that only a portion of even his town’s residents encounter on a regular basis).  If it happens, the event will be mainly than an opportunity for some people to live out the fantasy of valor on a Sunday afternoon by reveling in somebody else’s powerlessness.

As with their attempt to stop the newspaper from allowing such views to be published, the parade’s effect — its intended effect — will be to warn others away from expressing views to which fascist agitators like Erin Johnson of Barrington might object.  In matters of disagreement with the self-righteous, only those willing to depart from the challenges of their daily lives in order to escalate the fight will push back, isolating the great majority of people who just want to go about life in harmony and forcing them to choose between extremes.  (Nevermind that one of the extremes is largely fictional.)

Our society once strove to encourage discussion of differing points of view to foster understanding and to resolve those differences in a way that we used to call “civil.” Guess those days are done.


Doing Violence to Community and Beauty by Policing Language

Providence College English professor Anthony Esolen has it correct when he writes, “Language is not language unless it is communal, and it cannot be communal unless it can refer, quickly and clearly, to the things in front of our noses: to husbands and wives and hats.”  His subject, following that assertion, is the effect and objective of those who seek to make it impossible for us to communicate, particularly on matters of gender and sexuality.  His essay’s title is, “Pronouns, Ordinary People, and the War over Reality.”

To pretend, therefore, that we do not know what we immediately and urgently perceive is to do violence at once to human nature, language, the possibility of a shared life, and the intellect’s capacity to apprehend reality. If I cannot say, “There is a man walking down the street,” then it is hard to see how I can make any reliable judgment about anything at all that bears on human existence. If I cannot say, “Joey is going to grow up to be a fine man someday,” then what in life is left to talk about? Everything else is less certain than sex. We may disagree about whether President Eisenhower was a good leader of men, a loyal husband and father, or a pious Christian; but if we cannot agree that President Eisenhower was a man, then speech itself is but sound and fury, signifying nothing. Or, rather, speech collapses into action, and reason lies prone before appetite. Speech delivers the bribes and threats of people who want what they want and do not care overmuch how they get it. (Emphasis added.)

This is the objective of the radicals.  In the case of transsexuals, we could be compassionate toward them — even as disinclined as the radicals to draw any substantive distinctions regarding gender — without forbidding each other the ability to describe reality objectively, but:

[The radical] says that she wants all people to feel “safe” and comfortable, regardless of their sexual identity. That is not true. What she wants is that ordinary people should feel uncomfortable. She wants to rob them of their ordinary perceptions. She sows the field of conversation with mines, glad if ordinary people learn to tiptoe around them, but much gladder still when they fail and blow themselves up, because that provides her with the opportunity for more “education,” which means a more aggressive campaign against our common grasp of objective reality and our ability to communicate with ease what we see. (Emphasis in original.)

Esolen then goes into the why, suggesting that confused people want others to join them in their confusion and, of course, that some people profit from it.  “They sow the mines and then sell you a map to the field.”  A third explanation, though, is that some people are purely rebelling against the good, the beautiful, and the ordinary, typically because they for some reason find it difficult to achieve.


The Organized Effort to Divide the Catholic Church

Sometimes headline writers can perform the wonderful service of putting things in perspective.  Such is the case in today’s Providence Journal, with an example that indicates either unfortunate timing for the writer or an over-confident attempt to subtly link the story being reported with one not being reported beneath the headline.  Here it is:

Catholics in conflict over Pope’s call for mercy

Before moving on to my point, let’s recall that the conflicts over Pope Francis’s “who am I to judge” phrase — the core of Michelle Smith’s Associated Press article, even though the pope spoke it three years ago — was more of a media distortion than a statement of Church teaching.  The context and specifics of the larger quotation, as I’ve noted, put Francis’s statement directly in keeping with the catechism and long-standing Church teaching.

Now take a closer look at the context that Smith applies to her story:

Francis’ famous declaration “Who am I to judge?” in 2013 energized Catholics who had pushed the church to accept gays and lesbians. Now, some gay Catholics and supporters who hoped for rapid acceptance find themselves stymied by many bishops and pastors.

Let’s be particular about the effect of that sentence.  Smith is constructing a division within the Catholic Church, presenting our Church community as Pope Francis and “gay Catholics and supporters” on one side and “bishops and pastors” on the other.

Now, here’s the story that Smith doesn’t include: Among the emails released by WikiLeaks recently was one from Clinton confidant John Podesta, who responded to a progressive activist’s suggestion that they should use an issue like contraception to cause a “revolution” and drive a wedge within the American Catholic Church.  Podesta replied that “we” have been building groups to seize on just such opportunities.

Podesta’s email puts articles like Smith’s — and the Providence Journal’s related headline — in a new light.  Progressive activists are already organized and lying in wait for an opportunity to pounce on the Catholic Church, divide Catholic from Catholic, and overthrow the Church’s leadership.  The news media, as always, is happy to play along, the only question being where the organized movement ends, relying only on ideological sympathy.


Sticking with Principles Isn’t Retreat

With an eye on the moral-legal weather vane, Wesley Smith notes the move afoot in Canada to force Catholic hospitals to kill people who want to be killed.  Quoting the Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms provision on “conscience and religion,” he writes (emphasis his):

That’s an explicit and enumerated right.

If that right is to retain any heft, Catholic and other religiously-affiliated institutions should promise to close their doors before buckling under to the boot of the state.

That would leave Canadians with a choice: Do they want more good hospitals available, some of which won’t allow euthanasia, or would they prefer fewer facilities all of which willingly allow homicide.

Progressives’ political calculation on such matters puts morally traditional institutions in a difficult position.  The progressives rightly understand that Catholics (for instance) engage in these activities because we feel called to do so in order to help others and because we understand that only a visible light can attract wanderers (i.e., only public behavior can attract converts).

As a strategy, therefore, the Left seeks to corrupt those activities or to drive Catholics out.  We can keep doing them, but only if we continue to shrink the observable difference between our practices and those of the secular world.  As Smith’s example illustrates, the preferred method is to further make Catholics do things that seem to prove some teaching or other of the Church’s negotiable.

The other option is for traditionalists to do as Smith suggests and close up shop.  Such an action, while powerful as a threat, also opens us to the accusation that we care about some controversial social policy more than helping people, including clients, employees, and communities.

Unfortunately, we’re getting to the point that this is the better option.  The tests will become harder and the demands for compromise more thorough and more forceful.  If we’re to salvage the principles that define us, moving sooner is better than waiting for resistance to become even more difficult.

That doesn’t mean going about our lives, though.  It means moving back a step and making the charitable activities more fundamental.  Take the lesson of Saint Teresa of Calcutta.  If Catholics can’t operate a hospital, per se, then we should find some way to help those whom hospitals won’t take or for whom they can’t do anything.  We should go out in the community and help people to do such things as keep them out of hospitals, and so on.

That is, if we don’t replace charitable occupations with some other activity of life, but with more charity, it will be clear that we didn’t choose our pro-life, pro-marriage, or pro-whatever stance over helping people, but were pushed away from doing more good because progressives have made society into a moral trap.


Pressure Builds when Twisting Culture and Blocking Legitimate Grievance

Matthew Continetti is worth a read, related to my midday theme, yesterday.  He quotes John Marini’s suggestion that: “The American people themselves did not participate or consent to the wholesale undermining of their way of life, which government and the bureaucracy helped to facilitate by undermining those institutions of civil society that were dependent upon a public defense of the old morality.”  As Continetti elaborates:

Marini refers to institutions such as the family, church, and school, institutions charged with forming the character of a citizen, of instructing him in codes of morality and service, in the traditions and history of his country, in the case of the church directing him spiritually and providing him a definitive account of the cause and purpose of life. These are precisely the institutions that have been brought under the sway of bureaucracies and courts heavily insulated from elections, from public opinion, from majority rule. And as the public has lost authority over decision-making in the private sphere, as the culture has become more alien, more bewildering, more hostile to “the old morality,” as President Clinton keeps saying rather fatuously that the fates of Kenya and Kentucky are linked, is it any wonder voters have sought out a vehicle for their disgust and opposition?

“Undermining” is a good image, given the notion of removing the foundations of a structure.  As I’ve written with respect to same-sex marriage, government didn’t create or even really enforce the cultural understanding of marriage as between a man and a woman.  Rather, it simply recognized the cultural institution.  By expanding government’s involvement in our lives and then redefining marriage on its own terms, radicals used government to knock down supports for the institution.

We saw this very quickly, when Catholic adoption service providers in Massachusetts were forced to choose between their faith and their accreditation.  The radicals couldn’t abide a group that focused its services on situations according with its beliefs because the true goal was to undermine the group’s ability to affect the culture.

Marini and Continetti emphasize the unelected bureaucracy, but even our elections are becoming something of a sham, not the least in the sheer scope on which we’re supposed to make our decisions.  Sure, theoretically, if the people of Massachusetts didn’t like the decisions of the state’s bureaucracy, it could have elected officials who would force a change, but even putting aside the mammoth task of changing the bureaucratic blob, voters must cast their votes as a single statements covering activities across their lives.

The fate of Catholic adoption may be a consideration, but economic policies and others that affect how each of us lives our lives are in the mix, too.  In that regard, many voters are effectively bought off, and large, ideologically driven institutions (like the university and the news media) devote themselves to muddying the waters, while activists (now with flush budgets courtesy of Obama’s federal government) seek to impose social and financial consequences to anybody who speaks up against their views.


An Education Gap RI’s Compassion Class Doesn’t Seem to Care About

The Washington Examiner  has a brief article on education that we can cross-reference to the imagine-if-the-situation-were-reversed file:

The report, released by the College Board, looked at the test scores of college-bound seniors in 2016, and reviewed high school data demographics. Girls, it turns out, are doing much better in high school than boys. In a chart compiled by American Enterprise Scholar Mark Perry, it’s clear that girls are outperforming boys on nearly every level in high school.

According to the College Board’s demographic information, nationwide, America’s top 10% of students (measured among those who took the SAT) is 56% female and 44% male.  Girls make up 60% of students with A+ averages and 61% of those with A averages, and they make up 55-65% of students who take AP courses, depending on the subject (55% in math to 65% in art and music).

In case you’re wondering, boys in Rhode Island do even worse.  Of students who took the SAT, 59% of those who say they’re in the top 10% of their classes were female, and so were 68% of those with A+ averages.  Rhode Island has a slightly smaller gap when it comes to AP tests, though, ranging from 54% to 64% female.

If anything, this understates the gender gap.  Boys made up only 47% of SAT takers nationwide and 46% in Rhode Island, and because the likelihood of taking the test probably goes up with academic performance, boys almost certainly do worse among those who didn’t take the SAT.

If these numbers pointed in the other direction — finding that more than two-thirds of students in the top 10% of their classes were boys — there would be front-page pie charts in the Providence Journal proving that Rhode Island was leaving its girls behind.  Instead, far from worrying that we’re shortchanging our boys, we have a governor who proudly has an (unconstitutional) annual contest just for girls with scarcely a peep from the people and organizations who generally care so much about demographic gaps.


Praying for Deliverance from Public Schools

The office of Rhode Island education commissioner Ken Wagner just put out a statement (PDF) on media reports that the Achievement First charter school company is looking to expand its offerings in Rhode Island.  The statement attempts to finesse the line between (paraphrasing) “we absolutely believe every one of our regular district school teachers is dedicated and wonderful” and “but we can’t deny that parents think we’re failing them, and we can’t really argue the point.”

That is to say that the statement seems mainly targeted toward teachers and education-system insiders uncomfortable with the Dept. of Education’s continued reluctance to blow up the engine that’s pulling the charter train forward.  For those not in this target audience, though, this might be the most interesting sentence:

Last year, I met with a group of parents who created a year-long prayer group asking for one thing: success for their children in a charter lottery.

One could go in a number of directions with that tidbit.  Given my own interests, what strikes me most is that this group of apparent believers is praying for school choice within a public school system that remains, at best, doggedly neutral about the existence of God, at worst, actively hostile to religious belief, or most likely, a relatively non-ideological cog in the great progressive gear that is purposefully grinding religious belief to a benign dust in our society.

Why not pray for legislators to implement a funding system that allows families to choose schools that aren’t explicitly or implicitly hostile to their religious beliefs?  Perhaps it seems our world, in Rhode Island, is too far gone for believers to harbor such hopes.


The Decline of an Immature Society

For an explanation of Western pessimism, give David Solway a read:

“Are we not witnessing,” asks John Agresto in Academic Questions (Vol.29, No.2), “something that looks to be the…purposeful eradication of what it has historically meant to be educated?” The mission of the university is now the inculcation of intellectual conformity, a duplicitous “inclusiveness” that banishes dissenting voices, “social justice,” and discursive closure, coddling students into a condition of protracted puberty as the academy devolves into “separate programs of grievance and outrage.” In this way, students, stunted in their development, become the shock troops of the new world order as they have been taught to see it. And as we know, and as university policies have made glaringly public, children throw tantrums and don’t like to be contradicted. …

Such is the damage the educational institution has wrought in a culture spoiled by affluence and forgetfulness—a culture that has shucked the past and de-realized the future. The falling off from academic integrity and rigor explains why almost everything from political culture to cultural politics smacks increasingly of retardation. And it accounts in large measure for the descent we are observing. For children, who have no knowledge of the history of their civilization and no sense of an empirical future, cannot think rationally, they can only feel and act upon their feelings. They live in a realm defined by the present and the imaginary. They are the low-information voters, partisan pedants, liberal socialists, leftist ideologues, suborned journalists and entitlement parasites of the current day, living in a make-believe world that is running out of time.

Because I’ve always been aware that it existed, yet had never seen it, I’m watching The Paper Chase on Netflix as I work out each day.  After the observation that I don’t particularly like a single character in the movie, what’s most striking is the confidence of the stern Professor Kingsfield and the unquestioned understanding of the students that there is nothing lamentable, and probably something very desirable, about accepting his authority.

The standard was conformity because the mature, developed mind was better.  Indeed, the only way to real independence of mind is by working one’s way along the path as it’s been discovered, adopting habits and principles that bring us to the edge of what is known.  Imagine some giant, interlocking structure in space developing into a purposeful network.  We had a general sense of the plan and fresh young minds were welcomed and brought into it, being told how to interconnect.

Now the better metaphor for the conformity is a black hole.  The unifying principle is that there is no objective way to say what is better, so young minds of mush (as the cliché goes) are sucked in through emotion and social manipulation.  Independence is not permitted.


Assessing and Curing Poverty and Housing in Rhode Island

Here’s another article in today’s Providence Journal that proves nothing so convincingly as the reality of profound differences of perspective.  File this one under “advocacy for $50 million in new debt for affordable housing.”

Rhode Island Housing brought down from Boston Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond, who wants us to know that “America is the richest country with the most poverty in the world.”  That accusation contains a number of grammatical loopholes that would merit a closer look, but suffice for the moment to consider Robert Rector’s “15 Facts About US Poverty the Government Hides,” such as “the average poor American lives in a house or apartment that is in good repair and has more living space than the average nonpoor person in France, Germany, or England” and “eighty-five percent of poor households have air conditioning.”

But let’s accept Desmond’s premise that poverty and housing are a dire problem in the United States.  Stating that as a fact does not mean progressives’ preferred solutions are the obvious answer.  Consider:

Desmond noted that while many discussions of low-income housing center on publicly-assisted housing, only 1 in 4 households eligible for housing assistance actually get it, so most poor families are dealing with the private housing market. In Washington, D.C., for instance, there is a 20-year waiting list for public housing, he said. …

“We have the money,” to help struggling families, Desmond said, adding that the housing crisis is a much worse problem today than it was a decade ago. About 40 people are evicted in Milwaukee every day, he said, and most evicted tenants are mothers with children. Many of these mothers pay so much for rent and utilities that their children often go hungry, he said. One mother Desmond met, after enduring several evictions, “was having a nervous breakdown.”

Frankly, it seems obvious to me that the compassionate advocate would suggest that, if it looks likely that you’ll have to spend two decades waiting for housing you can afford in Washington, D.C., then Washington, D.C., is not a place you should be.  Moreover, as Mike Stenhouse recently had cause to explain related to state purchasing of farmland, government interventions in real estate markets tends to have undesirable consequences.  Decreeing that more people be given money to afford housing will increase demand without increasing supply, driving up prices for everybody.  Partitioning housing such that some segment is “affordable” leaves less housing not in the system, reducing the supply and (again) drive up prices for everybody.

As for the second paragraph quoted above, let’s not fail to make the obvious observation that “mothers with children” implies “fathers of children,” and in and out of government, society should work to ensure that affording housing, utilities, and food is the responsibility of two parents working together.  Unfortunately, such talk makes progressives uncomfortable, because it raises questions about their beliefs on social issues.  And let’s be honest: they kinda want the $50 million in bonded revenue whether or not it makes them feel good about loose sex, divorce, and abortion.


Social Services & Negotiating How Much to Take from Others

Sometimes it’s helpful to put stories in chronological order, rather than news-report order, as with this one, from today’s Providence Journal, concerning panhandling and homelessness in Providence:

Complaints about vagrancy, open drug-dealing and drinking exploded after Mayor Jorge O. Elorza decided months ago to stop enforcing ordinances against aggressive panhandling and loitering.

And now the news is that we’ve got Democrat Joseph Paolino getting the heartless 1% treatment because he’s only looking to get $100,000 from the Downtown Improvement District for social workers, along with jobs for two panhandlers, a free apartment for use of a homeless shelter, and up to $5 million in state taxpayer money, in combination with a whole new ordinance that would be even broader than the ones the mayor isn’t enforcing (stopping all transactions through a car window).  The activists protesting Paolino’s PR event have a more comprehensive list:

Less enforcement of minor criminal offenses against people who are poor; more jobs for panhandlers; funding for 150 housing vouchers; drug and alcohol treatment; and amenities such as a day center, public bathrooms and free food distribution. They want the Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority bus terminal to remain.

The core of this proposal is to double down on the policy approach that created the controversy (non-enforcement) and to add into the mix amenities that will draw even more vagrants, dealers, and loiterers to the area.  The protesters chanted, “Whose city? Our city!,” and they sure want it to be evident in the public square each and every day.

In short, the only solutions on the table, apparently, involve a negotiation over how much taxpayers have to pay for how much additional imposition.  Both parts of the plan are sure to exacerbate the underlying problem: namely, a domineering government that strangles the private sector and creates incentives not to work or bring behavior within a tolerable range.

We need another approach that doesn’t treat people as categories or as social-workers’ statistics, but as free individuals (from independent families) who can determine their own destinies in a community of mutual respect and charity.  The longer we deny this necessary change of perspective, the more the government plaque will build up in society’s arteries, making it more and more difficult to clear them.


The Education That $62,000 per Year Buys You

For the low, low price of $62,046, your child can attend Brown University to learn crucial facts of life, like this:

By putting menstrual products in women’s, men’s and gender-inclusive bathrooms, Nguyen’s campaign highlights an often-ignored fact: Not all people who menstruate are women. “We wanted to set a tone of trans-inclusivity, and not forget that they’re an important part of the population,” he says.

In a fantastic two-fer, Newsweek proves the quality of its reporting by labeling as “fact” the absurdity that “not all people who menstruate are women.”

On the bright side, now that Brown students have resolved the pressing problem that low-income Ivy League male students who menstruate cannot afford, umm, “feminine hygiene products,” we can conclude that Western Civilization has reached its intellectually menopausal phase.


Telling Them by Their Motivation

Imagine an issue with two opposing factions:

  • One organization was formed with no commercial incentive, but because people believe advocating a particular side on the issue will literally save lives and, more broadly, produce a healthier, more moral and just society.
  • The opposing organization is a major service provider with heavy investment in the issue in question, although its advocates do claim its work improves (maybe even saves) lives and supports fundamental rights and freedoms.  Of course, the key service its provides on the issue is literally killing young human beings.

Readers will likely have guessed that the issue in question is abortion, and the juxtaposition struck me while reading Ted Nesi’s weekend bullet-column this morning.  Being mainly concerned with politics, Nesi looks at the vying lobbying of Rhode Island Right to Life and of Planned Parenthood.  It makes one wonder what would happen to the pro-abortion cause if the direct financial self interest were removed from the equation.


When the Tide Has Nowhere to Turn

Although his title may not really capture the point, Jim Geraghty is on to something with “Crazy Theory: This Year the Right Is Winning the Culture Wars.”  Here’s one item of his evidence:

Target Corp. said it will spend $20 million to add a private bathroom to each of its stores by next year, after customer protests of its policy allowing transgender individuals to use whichever restroom corresponds with their gender identity.

My wife mentioned to me, the other day, that at least one Target store in the area had porta-potties outside, with some sort of cleaning station, and when her friend asked what they were for, an employee told her they’re “for the transgendered.”  My first reaction was to suggest that’s what happens when there’s such disconnect between corporate big-wigs and the people.  Making a grand politically correct statement using an entire chain of stores seems very important when perched at the cocktail party top, but as with universities’ capitulating to the whiny brats among their student population, the broader public has different views.

That is to say that Target has learned what happens when your leadership really does have contempt for a plurality of views.

The incident brings to mind Plato’s description of the steps by which an oligarchy deteriorates into a democracy:

This state, then, is in the same precarious condition as a person so unhealthy that the least shock from outside will upset the balance or, even without that, internal disorder will break out.  It falls sick and is at war with itself on the slightest occasion, as soon as one party or the other calls in allies from a neighbouring oligarchy or democracy; and sometimes civil war begins with no help from without.

In Plato’s reasoning, the elites of the oligarchy have become so soft and unlike their fellow countrymen that when anything happens to throw them all together, “the poor man, lean and sunburnt,” will observe of his social betters that they “are rich because we are cowards.” Applying this to Geraghty’s thesis, we might say that the lesson isn’t that “the Right is winning,” but merely that the Left hasn’t yet won — meaning that the self-righteous elite cannot yet impose its every will and fashion on the country with no consequence.

Another way to phrase it would be to say that the cultural tide appears to have hit progressive dams, with none of the releases that a free and equal representative democracy has in place to allow for self governance.  Unfortunately, the turmoil has brought Donald Trump to the forefront, so the next question will be what happens if the dams should hold in November, bottling up the pressure, or if they should break more expansively than is healthy for our society.

Either way, although the Left might be said to be losing, I’m not sure those of us on the right will really consider ourselves to be winning.


The Practical Distance Between America and Venezuela

A post on by Daniel Greenfield got me to thinking why the United States couldn’t suffer a similar fate to Venezuela’s:

After the fun of electronics stores forced to discount televisions at gunpoint, there were no more televisions. And no more cars. Then no more toilet paper, milk and other basic necessities.

The Socialist government tried to solve its money problem by printing more money. But it wasn’t able to pay for the money it wanted to print because of the inflation which officially did not exist.

Greenfield goes on to note that some American politicians propound policies of a similar mindset, making one wonder whether there’s something in the American character that will eventually stop the process or it’s just a matter of luck and the erosion of principle.

The first argument of distinction between our country and the one that Hugo Chavez ruined is that we’re wealthier, and in a broader way. But that just means we have farther to fall, which could mean more time or it could only necessitate a bigger mess up… say a decade of quantitative easing and massive federal debt combined with a regulatory state that makes it more difficult for people to work off the extra burdens and a welfare state that promises to buy them off if dependence on government is an option they’re willing to entertain.

A second argument, related to the fact that we have more wealth and room to fall, is that we have a culture of self-reliance and rebelliousness. Well, we’re arguably engaged in an experiment to discover how few generations it takes to get out of the habit of self-reliance. And as for rebelliousness, that’s well and good to talk about and believe in, but the proof is in the doing.

Ultimately, if it can’t happen here, we better get to proving it soon.