Liberals: not evil, not stupid…just 100% wrong!

For conservatives and libertarians, the movie icons might be High Noon or True Grit.  For Liberals, the defining anthem is John Lennon’s “Imagine“.

Why is there such a fundamental gulf between ourselves and Liberals, to the point where we find ourselves simply talking past each other? Can this gulf ever be bridged?

I came across this delightful essay at “1389 Counter-Jihad” that builds upon the thoughts of one of my favorite political and social commentators, Evan Sayet, to help define this gulf. It doesn’t necessarily say anything new, but it packages it so well.

http://1389blog.com/2010/11/17/why-modern-liberals-are-100-wrong-about-everything/

The central tenet of this posting is that, after years and years of indoctrination, Liberals see the world so fundamentally different than the rest of us that they can no longer recognize human fallibility and evil. If the core premise is correct, then I say there is no way to overcome this gulf and, perhaps, it would be best if we lived apart from one another. Why? Because I fear that the endgame of this Liberal world view can only be an epic global disaster. This Liberal view not only cannot survive (Darwin), but is the enabler of its/our own destruction.

Here’s a sterling outtake: “So the mindless foot soldier, which is what I call the non-elite, will support the elite’s blueprint for utopia, will side with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success, out of a sense of justice”

I know that we at Bookworm Room have explored this issue over and over. Does this help explain the divide? Can this gulf be overcome?

Leftwing bile

From whence does the viciousness in the Leftwing soul emanate?

I know that most if not all of us in the Bookworm circle have seen this horrific video below. I post it because we need to see this again and again. We need to look into their eyes to recognize what this is. I view this with fascination, much as I would were I an anthropologist viewing South Pacific cannibals at the village feast…with morbid horror at the depths of human depravity:

I have never, never experienced such hatred and vileness emanating from any group of conservatives that I know. Not even close. When I have observed rank racism, misogyny or homophobia, it has almost always emanated from people of the Left. It’s as if by incanting a few pat phrases of Liberal/Left orthodoxy or voting for a half-black man (speaking of race, not culture) as President, they feel they get a pass at spewing such vileness (as in, “I can’t be racist, I just voted for Obama”).

I like to use my own Leftwing /Liberal brothers-in-law as my own anthropological laboratory. A couple are happy cheerful people who don’t have a mean bone in their bodies. OK, they are clueless, but that is another story. There is one, however, who projects a portly, kindly exterior that absolutely seeths with venom underneath (his Facebook postings make my skin crawl).

Perhaps one clue is that he is also a man very much disappointed with his choices in life. I also don’t know if he is able to see himself as others see him. Similarly, we have the wife of a close family friend…outwardly, she is a very kind and considerate person. She talks the talk, anyway. But if you get her on the subject of George Bush or Sarah Palin, she transforms into a writhing, spitting demon (to her credit, she is at least aware of this and admits it as a character flaw).

Frankly, these people scare me. I feel that, should they ever be given the power to act out what they verbalize, they would unleash great evil on humanity.

What’s going on with such people? What goes on in their hearts and minds?

Does any budding psychiatrist within our discussion group have insights to share?

Democrat, Corruptocrat!

Democrats are the friends of big business, Conservatives are the friends of small business. Democrat government inevitably ratchets its way to corruptocracy.

If you don’t agree with this, can we at least agree that Democrats favor highly regulated economies and societies and conservatives don’t?

Let me explain with two examples.

1) The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story about how the EPA has decided that milk, because it contains 4% butterfat, should be regulated under the same environmental control standards as petroleum. Consequently, dairy farmers will have to file Federally approve emergency plans on how to deal with “oil spills” and such. Large dairies (some dairies in California milk 10,000 or more cows at a time) will probably be able to comply. Small dairies (goat and sheep milk farms, Vermont dairy producers etc. ) are just out of luck. I happen to know something about the dairy industry – it’s a highly politicized, highly subsidized industry that operates on very thin margins. I’m sure that they will come to an accommodation with the EPA and Federal Government…at a very steep price, politically and $-wise!

2) As it becomes increasingly clear the degree to which Obama Care really is a pig-in-a-poke, there is frantic activity to opt out of it. The numbers of entities that have received waivers from ObamaCare (other than Congress) magically rose from about 200 to 700+ immediately after the SOTU speech. Those entities are large companies and unions on the inside track. The way you get a waiver is to have a lobbyist obtain it on your behalf. Money exchanges hands. Large companies can afford this, small companies…out of luck! If ObamaCare is so great, why the rush by Congress, favored businesses and union to obtain waivers?

Increased regulation is inversely proportional to lobbying activity. The less regulation there is, the less the need to influence government. The more regulation, the more the need to petition the royal aristocracy at a heavy price. The need to petition our government for redress under regulations fostered by our government is a corrupting influence. If you lack influence and can’t make payment, you are out of the equation. Here in Chicagoland, we know all about this. Here is what happens:

Society sediments into three classes: a) an aristocratic Democrat nomenklatura that controls the regulatory and judiciary structures of society; b) a wealthy, economic class that can afford to exchange favors for regulatory exemptions and waivers…at a price; c) a lumpen proletariat, outside of the power structures, imprisoned into forced into regulatory straight-jackets (taxable prey…if you will) that they will never be able to escape unless willing to surrender at the price of their souls. It is this last class that pays the bills for the others. This isn’t new…despite its “progressive” tag, it’s a regression to 19th Century economic “shakedown” realities.

My entire career, I have been a champion of entrepreneurs and small companies. They are vital to our society and economy, as innovators, risk-takers and employers. I would hate to see this glorious period end as we slouch toward third-world corruptocracy.

I know that Democrats mouth have historically mouthed platitudes about looking after the “little guy”. I would like to think that only the truly moronic and armchair philosophers walled into their temples of abstract theory can fail to see how Orwellian and corrupting these platitudes are.

Have we as a nation arrived at a point where we can stop this from happening or is it inevitable? A Jewish relative once remarked that no Jew sleeps without two shoes under his bed stuffed with a roll of cash, in case of a quick getaway. I am starting to understand his point.

The vicious Palin tweets

A couple of days ago, I posted a YouTube video made up entirely of tweets from Palin haters.  It was a classic “unclear on the concept” thing, as the tweeters, in response to their perception that Palin’s “hate speech” caused the Tucson shooting, tried to top each other with vivid and obscene fantasies about Palin’s torture, death and dismemberment.

YouTube has removed that video.  I don’t know if it was a principled stand against violent threats against a politician, or a craven attempt to hide Lefty violence.  

Whatever.  I think people need to see the ugliness emanating from the Left.  The video is still on Vimeo, so I’m reposting it here.

Palin Death Wish Tweets Re Tucson Shooting from Legal Insurrection on Vimeo.

(Thanks to Lulu for the new link)

Irony alert with some on the Left showing themselves very unclear on the concept

Is there a cause and effect between hate speech and violence?  These tweeters are certain there is, and they believe that Palin should be tortured, given loathsome diseases and killed for having the temerity to engage in (unidentified) hate speech:

Hat tip:  The Jawa Report

Another conversation with a liberal: “You won’t like it, because I say no one else does” *UPDATED*

My liberal friend and I were talking about having pizza for dinner.  I suggested Round Table.  My friend was appalled.

Liberal Friend:  “Round Table is awful.”

Me:  “I like it.”

Liberal Friend:  “It’s awful.  Just go on Yelp.”

Me:  “Why should I go on Yelp?  That’s helpful if I haven’t been some place and am trying to get I feel for it.  I’ve already been to Round Table, and I know that I like it.”

Liberal Friend:  “It gets terrible reviews on Yelp.”  (This is untrue, by the way.  The service gets mixed reviews but, by and large, our local Round Table ranks pretty darn well in Marin, ahead even of some of the fancy “artisan” pizza places.)

Me: “But I like it.  The fact that others don’t is irrelevant to me.”

Liberal Friend:  “Nobody likes it.  I’m not going to let you eat pizza that nobody likes.”

Yes, it was an insane little conversation.  It was also, in its own peculiar way, an instructive one, because it shows the statist mind at work.  An individual’s opinion is irrelevant.  What matters is the way the collective thinks — or, more accurately, the way the liberal thinks the collective ought to think.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATE:  We ended up having Dominos.  The service was excellent.  The pizza wasn’t to my taste.  I like Round Table pizza, no matter what anyone tells me to like.

Liberals demand Big Government, except when it comes to national security

On my personal Facebook account, I linked to a report about the cartoonist who suggested “Everyone Draw Mohammed” day.  It turns out that this little moment of satire occasioned death threats so serious that she has now been forced into a life of hiding:

An American cartoonist whose satirical work inspired the controversial “Everybody Draw Mohammed Page” on Facebook has gone into hiding, the newspaper which published her comics said Wednesday.

Molly Norris, of Seattle, Washington, has moved and changed her name following a call for her assassination by US-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, The Seattle Weekly said.

“You may have noticed that Molly Norris’ comic is not in the paper this week,” the newspaper said. “That’s because there is no more Molly.”

“The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, ‘going ghost’: moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity.

“She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program — except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab,” the newspaper said.

I understand this news story to demonstrate how Islamists and jihadists are using terrorist tactics to hijack American freedoms — in this case, freedom of speech. In America, we fight speech with speech, not with swords.

My Facebook post resulted in comments several friends, two of whom (both far Left liberals) used it as a springboard to vent, not about Islamic terrorism, but about America’s security infrastructure.*  One complained that the airport security measures encourage terrorism.  Huh?  The TSA measures are definitely inconvenient band-aids, that leave the root cause of terrorism unaddressed, but I’m completely confused as to how they relate to the fact that Islamists are threatening to kill Molly Norris because she made a joke about their religion.

The other made almost precisely the same point:  He didn’t say that jihadists or Islamists are the problem.  Instead, he said that the U.S. government uses these threats (which he dismissed without comment) to justify stripping us of our civil rights and fighting two wrongful wars.  In other words, it’s not “cause and effect,” it’s “effect and cause” in his world.

Is it too much to ask of the liberals that they say “these Islamists are bad people whose theocratic world view is a fundamental threat to our Constitutional civil rights?”  Why do I ask these dumb questions.  Apparently it is too much to ask.

It’s this vast ideological chasm that explains why it’s virtually impossible to hold a civil conversation, let alone a persuasive one, with a liberal.  For one thing, they do not see Islam as a problem.  Instead, they see our government as a problem — except that they’re also the ones who want to expand our government to totalitarian levels.  They want overwhelming welfare and nanny-statism, which is the one thing the Founders didn’t want; while utterly rejecting national security, which is the lowest common denominator of effectiveness for any functioning government, and is both an implicit and explicit part of the government’s obligations under the Constitution.  Without the latter, you end up without a state.  (Just ask the Romans.)

______________________________

*Yes, I do have liberal friends, because I grew up in a liberal part of the world.  These are people I’ve known for decades.  In any event, I find their views interesting, if not always intelligible.

San Francisco: America’s homegrown anarchic totalitarianism

A quick, and personal, history of San Francisco’s decline from the 1960s to the present

San FranciscoI was born and grew up in San Francisco.  My very earliest memories of the City just predate the advent of the hippies.  At that time, the City was a solid amalgam of working class people, middle class people, and a nice handful of the very, very rich.  Barring the inevitable slums (and all cities have them), San Francisco was a well-maintained, fairly safe place.  Trips downtown (usually triggered by a visit to the doctor in the medical building at 450 Sutter) always ended with a visit to the beautiful City of Paris department store to admire the rotunda (which you can still see in the new Nieman Marcus on the same site), a stop at the marble bathrooms in I. Magnin’s (where Macy’s stands now), and treats at Blum’s Restaurant.  Women and men still wore hats in public places, and the women usually wore gloves too.  The sidewalks were clean, and there were no beggars.

I remember, too, when the hippies came along.  Initially, at least from a child’s point of view, it was kind of fun.  During the Summer of Love in 1967, colorfully dressed young people would be dancing in Golden Gate Park, waving banners, blowing bubbles and handing out flowers to all who passed by.  Of course, when they left the Park at the end of these pretty love-ins, the grass was torn to shreds, the flower beds were destroyed, and a few overdosed teens always lay scattered in the detritus left behind.  Soon, though, the magic (such as it was) vanished, and all that was left behind was the miserable slum that was the Haight Ashbury.

Because San Francisco was notorious for her hippies, whenever out-of-town friends came to visit, they’d insist on a tour of the Haight.  As a child, therefore, in the late 1960s/early 1970s, I often found myself in that blighted neighborhood.  The streets were filthy, covered with a disgusting mixture of garbage, urine and feces.  Collapsed on the sidewalks, holding up the walls, were the drug addicts — stringy-haired, bleary eyed and smelly.  Because sidewalks are hard and cold, a lot of the druggies would migrate to the green strip of the Panhandle or into Golden Gate Park itself.  While the Panhandle quickly became off limits for us children, we still went to the Park quite often — but were always carefully warned about needles in the grass and bums in the bushes.

The hippies weren’t just an aberration.  They were the beginning of a deep rot that set into the City.  Some of them remained as anchors for the homeless who still pepper San Francisco’s streets, making those streets unsafe or just very, very unpleasant for ordinary people.  Others reformed their lifestyles, but kept their Leftist, SDS influenced politics.  They grew up, got jobs, bought homes, and became people of influence in the City.  Their influence wasn’t immediately obvious.  During the 1970s, the City just drifted along.  Self-realization and self-actualization and general self-involvement hit the middle class with a bang, with the result that everyone was running around seeking his bliss, pausing only periodically to do some navel gazing.

The City’s gays, contrary to the film Milk, weren’t in a perpetual state of political activism during the 1970s.  Instead, they were glorying in the hedonism that was part-and-parcel of escaping the dark closet in which they’d lived for so many years.  I can’t say that I blame them — it was a giddy feeling to be free to express a long-hidden sexuality — but the results were deleterious.  It’s not healthy for a City to have a neighborhood that’s dedicated to sex, a rather obvious principle that is entirely separate from the fact that the Castro and its myriad bathhouses proved to be perfect Petri dishes for a burgeoning fatal disease that would soon sweep the world.

I was gone from San Francisco during much of the early and mid-1980s, returning to the City only in the late 1980s.  Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was living a wonderfully self-absorbed yuppie lifestyle, but I still managed to figure out that several things had changed since I’d last lived in San Francisco.  The most obvious change was the presence of homeless people, not just in the Haight and in Golden Gate Park, but everywhere.  The City was no longer making any effort whatsoever to control the homeless problem.

A walk down Montgomery Street, the main artery in San Francisco’s business district, meant one was perpetually under siege from panhandlers, most of them odoriferous and many of them crawling with lice and fleas.  Many, if not all, were obviously mentally ill or deeply in thrall to drugs or alcohol.  I couldn’t blame them for being where they were.  The City’s temperate climate and unenforced vagrancy laws made San Francisco a natural environment for such people.

As for me, I’ve always thought it’s the hallmark of a civilized society that it doesn’t leave its sick and deranged people begging on sidewalks and sleeping in doorways.  The ACLU, however, begs to differ.  And yes, I know that in the 1950s and 1960s, when the idea first came to de-institutionalize the inebriate homes and insane asylums that were once part of the American landscape, it was an unholy alliance of both the Left and the Right that led the charge.  In the years since, however, as the damage to urban areas from de-institutionalization has become clear, the ACLU has come to own the issue, and has routinely insisted that America must allow the helpless insane to live in the street and grub in the garbage.  Apparently Leftist civil rights include ensuring that those least able to care for themselves get no help from the rest of us.

The City had also lost what limited control it once had over the worst neighborhoods in town.  Nowhere was this more apparent to me than in the area surrounding the venerable Cow Palace.  Admittedly, that area was never a very nice one, but I remember as a child going frequently to events at the Cow Palace, going to gymnastic meets at the neighborhood schools, dining on delicious Middle Eastern food at a family-owned restaurant, and visiting people’s houses in the area.  Although I didn’t have the vocabulary at the time, looking back I would characterize the neighborhood as lower working class.  By the late 1980s, it was just plain scary, with the housing projects dominating and blighting the area.  (The worst of those housing projects, incidentally, became so unsustainable that the City eventually destroyed them in an effort at urban renewal.  Those that remain are still appalling.)

By the late 1990s, I had left San Francisco for the Marin suburbs, and I’ve never looked back.  Marin is ridiculously overpriced, but it’s also beautiful, exquisitely well-maintained and very safe. Although separated from the City by only 12 miles and one bridge, it is another world.  The people here may be politically liberal (voting overwhelmingly Democratic), but they’re hardheaded, NIMBY-esque pragmatists when it comes to preserving their own expensive lifestyles.

For the first decade of my Marin life, my visits to the City were very targeted because of the children:  I pretty much went only to Golden Gate Park and the Marina District.  The Marina District has always been lovely, remaining peculiarly untouched by the City’s ongoing turmoil (perhaps because large parts of it have been under Federal control).  There are few things nicer than walking from the Marina waterfront to Fort Point.  Also during those years, Golden Gate Park, while unpleasant around the fringes, underwent a renaissance at its center that begin with a completely rebuilt De Young Museum, and ended with a completely rebuilt Academy of Sciences.  At times, the City, as Herb Caen would say, still knows how.

San Francisco establishes itself as the cutting edge city of America’s homegrown anarchic totalitarianism

As we enter the second decade of the 21st Century, I find myself in the City more and more often.  I don’t visit the well-maintained spots that still charm tourists, though.  Instead, my children’s activities take me to parts of town other than the little Potemkin neighborhoods, neatly preserved for the tourists or the affluent liberals concerned with preserving lovely enclaves for themselves.  On these journeys, consistently, I am appalled by what I see.  The City has morphed into a crazy combination of anarchy and Leftist totalitarianism, all neatly wrapped into a package called “political correctness.”  This matters, not just because we’re witnessing the death of what used to be one of the most beautiful, desirable cities in the world, but because it perfectly represents the American Leftist paradigm.  In other words, San Francisco is the future of American Leftism, and it’s a very scary future indeed.

Before I go further, it’s useful to define some of the terms I’ll use here, particularly as they apply to San Francisco.  San Francisco would characterize itself as a “liberal” city.  “Liberal,” of course, is a misnomer.  Modern liberalism completely rejects the notion of individual freedom that is inherent in the linguistic root of the term (from the Latin līberālis, from līber, free).  Instead, today’s liberalism is a socialist movement that is predicated on placing all power in government.  And when all power resides in the government, you end up with totalitarianism or, as some people call it, fascism.

People who aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in the U.S. today think of totalitarianism solely in terms of Nazi Europe, Fascist Italy or, if they’re being honest, Soviet Eastern Europe.   If you play a word association game with most Americans, especially American liberals, and feed them the words totalitarian or fascist, they’ll come back with references to concentration camps, gulags, Gestapo and KGB agents.

Jonah Goldberg, however, in his splendid book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, figured out that modern western totalitarianism, of the kind practiced by Western European and American progressives/liberals has a more maternal cast than that practiced in Germany, the Soviet Union, China, or other non-Western countries cursed by all-powerful governments.

Unlike their Asian, Latin American or Eastern European counterparts, modern Western socialist governments aren’t going to round us up and shoot us.  Instead, they’re going to love us to death.  They’ll control what we buy, what we eat, how we get our health care, how we educate our children, what we watch on TV, what light bulbs we screw in, what cars we drive, what phones we use, what shopping bags we use, etc., all with the most beneficent of intentions.  We won’t be murdered by gun toting government-funded thugs in concentration camps.  Instead, we’ll just be infantilized to the point where we’re incapable of functioning without a Nanny state at our backs — and our fronts and our sides, and wherever else the State can insert itself into a citizen’s life.  (By the way, if you want to know what that will look like, just cast your mind back to images of Hurricane Katrina.  The self-reliant middle class sat on their porches with shotguns, protecting their families and homes.  The welfare classes, destroyed not by their race but by their decades-long dependence on government handouts, were incapable of even moving off the side of the road.)

The one thing that Jonah Goldberg’s book misses is the fact that the New Age, crystal-gazing American socialist utopia does not allow itself to control all people within its political borders.  Instead, in the name of political correctness, American socialist cities have a two-tiered system:  law-abiding citizens are on the receiving end of heavy-handed government control, while politically correct protected victim classes are removed from any controls whatsoever.  The result is the worst of all possible worlds, with law abiding citizens beaten down both by their own government and by those whom the government allows to roam free.  San Francisco provides a perfect example of this Western socialist dynamic.

San Francisco’s intense hostility to capitalism

Some of the contrasts between intense government control versus anarchy are very obvious in San Francisco.  On the control side, the City’s mandates pry into every area of business and even personal life.  At a macro level, the City is very, very hostile to business.  It has its own minimum wage law (SF Admin. Code, Secs. 12P, 12R, & Appx. 68), which controls anyone doing business in or with the City of San Francisco.  The City apparently feels it’s not a big enough burden on businesses to have the feds set wages too.  The minimum wage laws are great for those who can get jobs; but lousy for those who discover that, as a result of the hostile environment, there are fewer businesses around to provide jobs.

San Francisco has long had stringent rent control laws (SF Admin. Code, Sec. 37.1).  This is one of those things that benefits renters in the short term, by forcing below market rates for rental property, but that is a disaster in the long term.  Because it means that landlords cannot make reasonable money on property, cannot alienate property, and cannot evict tenants, there is no incentive to be a landlord or, if one is a landlord, to maintain the property beyond the bare minimum.  By interfering in the marketplace, San Francisco has ensured that there are fewer properties available, and that those available are minimally maintained.  It’s therefore lousy to be either a landlord or a tenant in the City.

San Francisco doesn’t just stick its liberal nose into the real estate market.  In the name of political correctness, it also makes doing business in and with the City very, very expensive.  For example, in its endless effort to promote business that are owned by women and minorities, the City mandates that women and minority owned businesses, when bidding for City work, get the benefit of a special discount in the bidding process (SF Admin. Code, Sec. 12D.A.)  While this might have made sense as a short term incentive to allow new businesses to break into a field that had become limited to a few permanent, old-time contractors, it’s now become a permanent and costly boondoggle, funding politically protected businesses on the San Francisco taxpayers’ collective backs.

San Francisco’s need to control its law-abiding citizens

The City also likes to make sure that its residents are environmentally pure.  In 2007, the City banned plastic shopping bags, a sop to environmentalists, but a burden to ordinary people:

“We need to get rid of a hell of a lot of this stuff,” Ora Gosey, 56, said outside an Albertsons in the Western Addition. As the retiree spoke, she inched away from a case of grape soda she had placed on the ground as if it didn’t belong to her. It was double-bagged in plastic.

“I needed something,” she admitted, “because it’s so heavy.”

Plastic checkout bags are pretty convenient, Gosey and others said. You can carry them easily down the sidewalk or on a bus, and they’re less prone to ripping than paper. At home, they come in handy for packing trash. And in the park, they’re good to have when you walk the dog.

According to the Film and Bag Federation, a plastics industry group, the bags can also be used to keep things dry in a canoe, make Christmas wreaths and kites, and assist in the nearly impossible task of putting on a wetsuit.

I know that I, personally, never, never throw away those plastic bags.  They have more uses in my household than I can count.  If I stop getting them free from stores, I’ll just have to go out and buy heavier, less environmentally-friendly plastic bags to use for the same purpose.  And sadly, that may be my future too, since Marin is planning on banning both plastic and paper bags.  I’ll soon have to become one of those crazy Marin bag ladies who marches into a grocery store carrying an armful of mismatched, costly, inconvenient bags of my own, all of which I have to remember to return to my car once I unload my groceries.  Feh!  I don’t mind it when serious-minded conservationists, whether liberal or conservative, do this because they want to.  I just don’t want to be forced to do so.

The City reserves special animus for smokers.  Now, I have to confess here that I loath the smell of cigarette smoke.  I don’t have a problem with a person making the decision to smoke, although I think it’s a foolish decision, both in terms of expense and health, but I’m still enough of a libertarian to allow people to make their own bad decisions.  The problem with cigarettes, though, is that the smoke doesn’t stay near the smoker.  If I’m in a room with you, and you’re smoking, I suddenly find myself enveloped in that foul smelling stuff, which makes me crazy.  Even when you leave the room, I can’t get rid of the smell, which has permeated my clothes, my hair and my skin.  I therefore don’t have a problem with San Francisco’s original smoking ban, which banned smoking in the workplace.  (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 8.)  The problem is that the Nanny City, not content with protecting me from your smoke (which I find reasonable), is now intent on protecting you from your smoke, which I find unreasonably intrusive.  Thus, a proposed new law would shut down smoking in the great outdoors too (among other venues within the City’s borders):

San Franciscans would see a bevy of more “no smoking” signs in The City if legislation introduced Tuesday is approved.

As The Examiner reported in November, Supervisor Eric Mar reignited the stalled legislation that would forbid smoking in a slew of new settings, adding to existing bans in bars, restaurants, parks, transit stops and taxis.

The bill would expand no-smoking zones to include farmers’ markets, outdoor seating areas of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops, and common areas of multiunit housing complexes.

Smokers would have to light up farther away from entrances, exits, windows and vents of all buildings. And smoking would only be allowed at the curb of sidewalks, streets and alleys. If there is no curb, smoking would be prohibited within 15 feet of entrances or exits, according to the bill.

Smokers also would have to be at least 20 feet from transit shelters, boarding areas and ticket lines, including those for cable cars.

The legislation would ban smoking while waiting in lines at ATMs, theaters, athletic events, concert venues and cab stands.

Another way in which the City makes life difficult for the law abiding is parking.  It costs two dollars an hour to park at a downtown meter, which means carrying around a lot of quarters.  The high cost is necessitated, in part, by the fact that the City has handed out so many handicapped parking waivers, many meters make no money at all.

As it happens, the insanely expensive meters are the least of the parking problem.  The City is also hell on wheels for parking because of all the signs.  I’ve driven down blocks that have six or seven different parking control signs per block.  Clipping along at 25 or 30 miles per hour, trying to read all the signs, it’s impossible to tell whether you’re going to be barred from parking by the sign limiting parking to residents, the sign limiting parking to businesses, the sign limiting parking to certain hours of the day or night, or the sign limiting parking to certain days of the week because of street cleaning.  Decoding the signs might eventually tell you that it’s okay to park on the northern end of the block, but woe betide you if, at the wrong hour of the day, you park at the southern end.  And all this doesn’t even count the signs hidden in untrimmed trees, so that you have to guess as to what they say.

As part of its relentless drive to purify itself into a “liberal” paradise, the City also keeps trying to outlaw guns (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 73), ban the Blue Angels, bar the military from San Francisco schools (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 74), shut down JROTC (although a few stalwarts have managed to hold the line), impeach Republican administrations (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 76), and generally work to shut down avenues of protection or expression for any but the most liberal residents.

San Francisco extends special protections to law-breakers

While piling law after law after law onto the already law-abiding, San Francisco goes out of its way to protect the law breaking.  It refuses to enforce laws against marijuana (SF Admin. Code sec. 12X), a bit of civil disobedience by the city that ensures that every drug dealer within miles views San Francisco as a sort of commercial Mecca.  Whether one believes anti-drug laws are a good thing or a bad thing, I think all reasonable people recognize that, when a single city carves itself out as a dealer’s paradise, it’s setting itself up for drug usage problems of a more serious kind.  The same guy who comes here peddling pot isn’t going to leave his harder drugs far behind, since he knows that the wise police officer will ignore everything rather than get into a politically correct wrangle.

More seriously, San Francisco refuses to enforce federal immigration laws.  It has classed itself as an official “City and County of Refuge.”  (SF Admin. Code, sec. 12H.)  The practical effect of this is that, in the City’s own words,

No department, agency, commission, officer or employee of the City and County of San Francisco shall use any City funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law or to gather or disseminate information regarding the immigration status of individuals in the City and County of San Francisco unless such assistance is required by federal or State statute, regulation or court decision.  (Sec. 12H.2.)

The City has effectively announced to the world that anyone whose first act upon entering America is to break American law is welcome in San Francisco.  As with the City’s refusal to enforce drug laws, people whose crimes go beyond “merely” entering the country illegally know that they are also welcome in San Francisco.  Anyone with half a brain (meaning no one on the SF Board of Stupidvisors) could have figured out that this sanctuary policy would end in tragedy.  The latest, and most horrible example, of the inevitable tragedy occurred when Edwin Ramos, who came to San Francisco illegally from El Salvador, committed a gangland murder against a father and his two sons, Anthony Bologna, 48, Michael Bologna, 20, and Matthew Bologna, 16, all three of whom were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at Ramos’ time.  The real horror wasn’t even Ramos’ illegal status.  It was that the City knew about his illegal status and his criminal propensities, but did nothing because of the Sanctuary Law:

The case prompted public outcry after it emerged that Ramos was convicted of two gang-related felonies when he was 17, but local officials did not contact federal agencies to determine his immigration status.

The Bologna family — or, I should say, what’s left of it after Ramos’ massacre — is suing.  I wish them luck, but even a lawsuit won’t change the City’s progressive mindset, one that, as a matter of political ideology, elevates lawbreakers over the law-abiding.

When San Francisco does have laws aimed at making life better for the ordinary citizen, it ignores them.  Although it has an official ban against aggressive solicitation (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 25, 69, which the voters forced on the City), that ban is seldom enforced, and the failure to enforce occurs entirely for PC reasons.  For example, on an annual basis the local paper reports about the Hell that is Haight Ashbury, a miserable situation that results, in large part, because of the aggressive homeless:

Haight-Ashbury may be its own worst enemy. The neighborhood that hosted the Summer of Love 40 years ago has developed a nasty edge. Sleepy stoner panhandlers have given way to aggressive street punks who stand in the path of pedestrians and demand payment. Park Station police Capt. Teresa Barrett suggests watching “Haight Street” on YouTube to see the mind-set. One kid says if you have the money to shop on Haight, you’d damn well better kick in $20.

The problem with the Haight isn’t lack of funds, or lack of laws.  Instead, the neighborhood is besieged because of the “liberals” who have bought into the whole root cause ideology when it comes to crime.  These anarchic nanny staters are certain that the bad behaviors that distress the Haight’s residents and visitors alike are a result of the malefactors’ victim status, and have nothing to do with the fact that the City puts no brakes on crime and brutality:

But the city – particularly Haight-Ashbury – has clung to its image as understanding and tolerant. Attempts to install a sit/lie law that would prohibit camping on the sidewalk for hours at a time have gone nowhere. Too mean, too restrictive, critics say.

This kind of urban horror story isn’t limited to the Haight.  Golden Gate Park, which also never recovered from the Summer of Love, is periodically in the papers too, again because the Liberals in the City, unable to break away from the theory that the homeless are all victims who just need to be left alone,  just can’t bear to get tough on vagrancy, begging, and out-and-out crime.  Sure, there are the periodic crackdowns when things become too terrible to contemplate, but then the liberal cycle of letting “victim classes” run the show begins all over again.

Because the City relentlessly defines the drug addicts, alcoholics, and crazy people as victims who can’t be touched, these people live on the streets in filth, eating out of garbage cans, terrorizing ordinary citizens.  Whether riding BART, walking down Montgomery Street, trying to catch a show at the Orpheum on Market Street, visiting the public library, going to City Hall, or going to Costco, the law-abiding, taxpaying Average Joe is assaulted by smells, disease, aggressive begging and, sometimes, actual assaults.  Still, in liberal eyes, it’s the perpetrators, not the solid citizens, who are defined as victim.

San Francisco ignores existing decency laws to protect sexual “victim classes”

The last thing in my litany of complaints about San Francisco’s reverence for law breakers and burdens on law abiders is the special status it accords licentious behavior.  In theory, the City has an obligation to enforce laws supporting public decency.  These are the laws that ban public nudity and public sex acts.  In fact, because the violations of these laws are routinely committed by gay men, the City turns a blind eye to them.  In the City, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals are a protected class, and that means that they get to break laws with impunity.  Incidentally, what follows is not meant to be a tirade against homosexuality.  The fact is that most of San Francisco’s gays are not running around naked, peeing in the streets (and on each other), or having sex in public.  Only a small percentage are doing so — but the kicker is that they do so because the City lets them!  This is, therefore, a tirade against a City that refuses to enforce public decency laws because of political correctness.

I’m not going to pollute this post with pictures of the truly appalling orgies that routinely take place in San Francisco’s streets.  Zombie has created long photo essays showing the Folsom Street Fair, and the Dore Up Your Alley Fair, both of which involve, not just nudity, but some perverse sexual practices I bet some of you haven’t even heard of — and all of them take place out in the open, on public streets.  The police are present (Zombie documents them), but it is obvious that they are under orders not to interfere.

It is possible (although difficult) to argue that two street fairs, which take place in a limited number of blocks in a carefully defined neighborhood should be ignored.  It’s much more difficult to ignore public licentiousness that takes over a long-standing San Francisco tradition, and that drags nudity and bizarre sexual practices right into Golden Gate Park.  Last year, my family went to see the crowd at the San Francisco Bay to Breakers race — a race that was started 96 years ago to commemorate the San Francisco Earthquake and that, for many years, was a fairly straightforward race, starting at the Bay, traversing the City (including Golden Gate Park), and ending at the Pacific.  About a decade ago, it became an occasion at which San Franciscans celebrate their joie de vivre, with many of them turning the event into a giant costume party.  Having heard about the fun costumes, my husband and I thought it would be fun to take the kids.  Boy, were we wrong!

What’s interesting about San Franciscans is that, when they get into costume, so many of them opt, not for charm or cleverness, but for perversion. Of course that doesn’t go for 100% of the race’s participants. It probably applies to only about 3% of them — but 3% of 100,000 is still about 3,000 people parading through San Francisco’s streets and parks celebrating their peculiar sexual fantasies.

That’s why, within seconds of entering Golden Gate Park, my children were confronted with the fascinating spectacle of an aged gentleman who had wrapped rings around himself, hugely inflating his scrotum, which he then proceeded to shake at the crowd. In a normal environment, he would have been arrested. Here, he was just part of the scenery.

This man wasn’t the only naked one. There were lots of naked people. Probably 90% of them had embarrassingly ugly bodies. Why is it always those with the most avoirdupois, the most pendulous breasts, the most bizarrely tufted body hair, the most mottled skin, and the smallest penises who feel this peculiar compulsion to parade around well-attended public spots in the altogether?

Was it any surprise then, that it was these exhibitionists, despite the vast array of porta-potties, who also felt the irresistible compulsion to pee in the bushes?

There was also a lot of drinking, lots and lots.

So, in the space of a few very painful minutes, we were confronted with public nudity, public urination, and public drunkenness — and the cops did nothing.

I don’t blame the San Francisco police officers for doing nothing.  Most of them, I know, are family people who probably find the spectacle of public nakedness, drunkenness and urination as off-putting as you and I do.  The fact is that they do nothing because they are instructed to stand aside and let politically correct classes — in this case, people who get a kick out of deviant exhibitionism — do their own thing without fear of civil retribution.  The fact that ordinary people are assaulted by the sights and the filth is irrelevant because, in the New Age, crystal gazing, politically correct Progressive world of American Leftism, ordinary people count for nothing.  They exist to be taxed and controlled, so that the others can live free.

Conclusion

This has been a really long post — the longest, I think, that I have ever written.  I write it as a tocsin, warning Americans that there is nothing benign about American Leftism, and that it is even more dangerous than the nanny state some people seem willing to accept as the price of living in the modern world.  Because American leftists are as committed to elevating the rights of the criminals, the crazies and the perverts as they are to taxing, quashing and directing the middle and working classes, we can anticipate the worst of all possible worlds:  an America in which ordinary people live under totalitarian control and socialist taxation, while the worst elements in every society are allowed to run rampant.

Keep this in mind as you head to the polling place in 2010.

Allowing the American public, finally, to see the Left

I’ve been saying for some years that the biggest mistake the Islamists made was impatience.  Demographically, between their fecundity and the sterility of Western culture, Muslims were headed towards societal tipping points all over Europe within a couple of decades.  Had they set tight, they could have completed what they started in the Middle Ages and finally lost at the Gates of Vienna:  the Islamist takeover of Europe.

But they couldn’t wait.  They took down the Twin Towers, bombed trains and subways, blew up school children, exploded night clubs, killed Van Goghs, harassed women, and engaged in myriad other acts that made Westerners aware of their presence as something more than just enshrouded women and cheap labor.  It’s still unclear whether the West has the will to fight, but the West certainly got timely notice to have the ability to fight.  While the Islamists are certainly spoiling for the fight and, indeed, glory in the bloodshed, there’s no doubt that war brings the risk of loss and — as I said — the Islamists could have avoided this risk altogether if they had just waited until critical mass, when the West would have lost before the fight began.

For the last few months, I’ve going around saying exactly the same thing about the American Left, which took its victory, a victory that spread across many states but that never really exceeded more than a few percentage points in any given area, and decided that it had a sweeping mandate.  And what a mandate:  destroy the economy, socialize medicine, and make American supine before all of the world’s worst actors.  Dennis Prager has had the same thought, and wrote a really great article on the subject:

There may be a major silver lining for conservatives and for America’s future thanks to the foreign and domestic policies of President Obama and the Democrat-controlled House and Senate: For the first time in their lives, millions of Americans are coming to understand the left.

It is difficult to overstate how important this is. For decades, the left has largely controlled the news media, the arts, the universities and the entertainment media. And vast numbers of Americans have imbibed these leftist messages and the leftist critiques of conservatives. What these Americans have never been able to do is to see what the left would actually do if in power.

[snip]

1. The left wants America to abandon its defining commitment to individualism and replace it with a European-style nanny, or welfare, state. At most Americans’ core is an abiding belief that we are supposed to take care of ourselves, our families and our neighbors, and not rely on the state to do so.

2. The left is naive about evil. Most Americans deemed Communism evil; the left ridiculed President Ronald Reagan for calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and often undermined the fight against the Communist world. So, too, the left is naive about Islamic terror and undermines the fight against it.

The smoking gun was the nearly universal denial by the left that his Islamic beliefs had anything to do with Maj. Nidal Hasan’s mass murder of fellow servicemen at Fort Hood. One of many examples was this reaction to the shootings by Evan Thomas, Editor at Large at Newsweek: “I think he’s probably just a nut case. But with that label (Muslim) attached to him, it will get the right wing going…”

3. The left is more interested in redistributing wealth than in creating it. This should have been as obvious to Americans as the brightness of the sun. Finally, Americans are coming to realize that the left’s goal is now, as it always has been, equality, not prosperity.

4. The left is far more interested in power than the right is. This, too, should have been self-evident, but finally, people are realizing that those who are preoccupied with creating an ever-expanding state are obviously far more interested in amassing power than those who want a smaller state.

5. The left is preoccupied with America being loved, and in pursuit of that end, compromises some of America’s core values. Examples abound here, too. To cite a few: the Obama administration’s neglect of those in Iran risking their lives for freedom in that tyranny; the administration’s refusal to meet with the Dalai Lama when the Tibetan leader visited Washington, lest the president annoy China’s dictators; the American government siding with Hugo Chavez against the Honduran government, which had legally removed a Chavez clone from the Honduran presidency; and the president’s obsequious apologies for America wherever he goes.

Dennis Prager gives global examples of the ideology powering the Left.  Phyllis Schlafly gives particular examples of those people closest to the president.  And a scarier bunch of rogues and ideologues you’ve never seen.  So far, the media has been working overtime to keep ordinary Americans from learning too much about these pillars of academe, now all0wed to put their theories into effect in the real world, but word is leaking out.  And in keeping with Prager’s theory about knowledge giving the American people power, the Left’s inability to keep its worst actors and ideas off the national stage may prove to be America’s greatest strength.

More fake but accurate — this time from Israel *UPDATED*

In one of my recent posts fawning over Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, I mentioned his discussion about the fascistic love for the “fake but accurate” approach to “truth.” Thus,

As the cross-burning incident at Cornell demonstrated, this preference for arousing passions at the expense of truth and reason defined the agenda for those fighting in [the 1960s Leftist] trenches. The practice of “lying for justice” — always acceptable on the communist left — was infused into the American New Left with potency. The catch-phrase at the Columbia uprising was “the issue is not the issue.” No wonder, since the actual “issue” — building a gym in adjacent Harlem — was such small beer. For most of the activists, deceit wasn’t the point. The point was passion, mobilization, action. As one SDS member proclaimed after he and his colleagues seized a building and kidnapped a dean, “We’ve got something going on here and now we’ve just got to find out what it is.” (p. 179.)

Apparently — and unsurprisingly — this viewpoint isn’t limited to the American left, but arises wherever there is a left. Thus, at Augean Stables, Richard Landes describes giving a speech to Israelis about the false Muhammed al-Durah video:

I recently gave a talk at a conference on Media and Ethics in Jerusalem, where I presented the case against Enderlin’s version of the Muhammad al Durah story. Apparently, the presentation was relatively convincing since one of the first criticisms I immediately received from a prominent Israeli professor of communications was: “So what? According to reliable statistics, the Israeli army has killed over 800 Palestinian children since the second Intifada. So what difference does it make if this case is staged or not?” His intervention was followed by a round of applause from about a third of the 200-some person audience.

Israel is not going to be murdered. With the help of her own leftists, using Hamas as its instrument of choice, she’s going to commit assisted suicide.

UPDATE: Melanie Phillips elaborates on Israeli suicide, and its roots in the false history promulgated about Israel on the left (often by Israel’s own leftists).  Sadly, those who can no longer buy the leftist view seem to have settled for a type of apathetic nihilism (which may explain why Israeli voters can’t rouse themselves to get rid of Olmert).  My cousin, an incredibly smart sabra who still lives in Israel, admits that she is no longer a leftist (which was the default political position for Israel’s educated class when she was a girl in the 1950s).  Now, she says, “I support them all.  One of them might have an idea.”

Margaret Sanger would be proud

Jonah Goldberg, in his wonderful Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, reminds me of something I had long known, but forgotten: Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and birth control Goddess, did not embark on her birth control crusade because she wanted to relieve the burden of childbirth on the average woman. She embarked upon it because she was a eugenicist who wanted to reduce the numbers of “defectives” and non-Christian whites. She couldn’t stand to see all these little Italian, and Greek, and Jewish, and Russian, and Asian babies being born. She framed her crusade in terms of women, but her explicitly stated goals were to cause a decline in immigrant births. Fast-forward a hundred years:

The nearly 4.3 million births in 2006 were mostly due to a bigger population, especially a growing number of Latinos. That group accounted for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. births. But non-Latino white women and other racial and ethnic groups were having more babies too.

An Associated Press review of births dating to 1909 found the total in the U.S. was the highest since 1961, near the end of the baby boom. An examination of global data also shows that the United States has a higher fertility rate than every country in continental Europe, as well as Australia, Canada and Japan. Fertility levels in those countries have been lower than the U.S. rate for several years, although some are on the rise, most notably in France.

Experts believe there is a mix of reasons: a decline in contraceptive use, a drop in access to abortion, poor education and poverty.

The Captain points to the story as an example of the zero population growth movement mourning its inability to convince people not to have babies. Nevertheless, you can see in it clear echoes of the belief that the wrong people ought not to breed — or, at least, that the ill-informed (read: Latinos) are screwing everything up for the rest of us. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

The scam what am

If you want to witness the interesting spectacle of my going from a fairly mild mannered, motherly lawyer type, to a screaming, foaming-at-the-mouth harridan, mention one acronym:  MCLE.  This stands for Minimum Continuing Legal Education, which I found an inconvenience when I was a big firm attorney and that I find an economic and time burden now that I’m a solo.

Continuing legal education did not used to be a mandatory requirement for practicing law in California.  When I started out as a lawyer, legal organizations and legal publishers would put together seminars and send out fliers in the hopes that lawyers would attend.  Often lawyers did attend because the seminars involved the lawyer’s practice area, and they promised to be interesting or to give the lawyer an edge professionally.  Lawyers took the classes on a strictly as needed basis, so that a lawyer who was just plodding along in a single area, reading the cases as they came out and churning through relatively uninteresting legal cases, might attend one seminar a year.  For example, a litigator might attend an annual half day seminar on new pretrial procedures.  (Or he might just read the new legislation emanating from Sacramento every year, or check the update to his favorite legal treatise, which would spell out all of the new procedural requirements.)

Then, in the late 1980s, the California State Bar suddenly announced that, if lawyers want to keep their licenses, they were required to take 36  hours worth of seminars over a three year period (a requirement since lowered to 25 hours over the same three years).  Not only that, but lawyers couldn’t just take classes in areas that might benefit them as practitioners.  Instead, they also were (and are) required to take several hours of classes in law practice management, legal ethics (which could theoretically help some lawyers out there), substance abuse, and identity politics — oh, sorry, that last should be “Elimination of Bias.”

I had a problem with this whole thing from the get-go, because I like the idea of self motivated self-improvement, not coercive, government mandated improvement (proving that I was a nascent conservative long before I knew it).  I also recognized immediately that the whole thing was a scam.  How?  Because it was set up so that the big firms didn’t have to dig into their pockets to fund their associates and partners for these seminars.  Instead, the big firms could create their own in-house seminars, something that often boils down to some long-winded partner bloviating for an hour about a case, while a captive audience of fellow firm attorneys sucks down caffeine in an often vain effort to stay awake.  Of course, for attorneys without big firm backing, the self-help route was (and is) unavailable.  The only option was (and is) to put your own money on the line for outside MCLE sources.

Now, there are some superb seminars out there.  One wonderful day, I attended Bryan Garner’s incredible legal writing seminar.  But you know what?  I would have been desperate to take that seminar anyway, without the necessity of government coercion.  I learned more in six hours with Bryan Garner than I had in the previous 15 years of practice — including attending other, much cheaper writing seminars.

And oh!, have I attended lots and lots of cheap seminars.  You see, if you don’t have a lot of money to play with, you don’t go to quality seminars of the type that were always offered, even before the mandatory MCLE program — seminars that could actually be useful or, at least, interesting (such as the aforementioned Garner seminar).  Instead, you hunt around for el cheapo seminars, regardless of whether the subject matter is relevant to your practice area.

There was a boom of these el cheapo seminars immediately after MCLE became mandatory, although prices only dropped with the internet.  In pre-internet days, a small firm attorney had to pay $200 to go waste some time listening to someone waffle on for a few hours about the fact that women and minorities are inevitably victims of large firm practice — unless those firms are women or minority owned.  Now, through the miracle of the internet, a lawyer can spend a mere $129 to get all required hours.  But if you think there’s any learning involved, you don’t know how to work the system.  You can read the material, of course, but it’s banal and self-evident.  So, you might be tempted to try a shortcut (not that I ever would, of course).  For example, if you have a large monitor you might, in one screen, open the essay about corporations or substance abuse or some other subject that doesn’t mesh with your practice needs.  In the other window, you could open the 4 question on-line questionnaire.  Then, using word search in the essay, you match the sentence in the essay with the question, and there’s the answer.  It’s theoretically possible to do 5 hours of MCLE in under 20 minutes.

What motivated me to blog about this scam — which has been a burr in my butt for almost two decades — is a segment in Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, about the anti-competitive effects of government regulation of business — and about the fact that businesses, that is, big businesses, are often happily complicit in this regulation since  it benefits them so much:

Consider, for example, the largely bipartisan and entirely well-intentioned Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, celebrated everywhere as a triumph of “nice” government.  The law mandated that businesses take a number of measures, large and small, to accommodate customers and employees with various handicaps.  Offices had to be retrofitted to be wheelchair compliant.  Various public signs had to be written in Braille.  Devices to aid the hearing impaired had to be made available.  And so on.  [And on and on as enterprising customers, employees, students and lawyers providing an ever expanding and often quite imaginative list of what constitutes a “handicap.”  They’re rational to do so, too.  If there’s a trough, you’d be a fool not to feed at it.  –Ed.]

Now imagine that you are the CEO of Coca-Cola.  Your chief objection to this law is that it will cost you a lot of money, right?  Well, not really.  If you know that the CEO of Pepsi is going to have to make the same adjustments, there’s really no problem for you.  All you have to do is add a penny — or really a fraction of a penny — to the cost of a can of Coke.  Your customers will carry the freight, just as Pepsi’s customers will.  The increase won’t cost you market share, because your price compared with the competitor’s has stayed pretty much the same.  Your customers probably won’t even notice the price hike.

Now imagine that you own a small, regional soft drink company.  You’ve worked tirelessly toward your dream of one day going eyeball-to-eyeball with Coke or Pepsi.  Proportionally speaking, making your factories and offices handicapped-friendly will cost you vastly more money, not just in terms of infrastructure, but in terms of the bureaucratic legal compliance costs (Coke and Pepsi have enormous legal departments; you don’t).  [And I have several lawyer friends who have made a good living providing ADA advice to innocuous small businesses that suddenly discovered that they needed to make a lawyer part of their budget so as not to run afoul of the feds. -Ed.]   Plans to expand or innovate will have to be delayed because there’s no way you can pass on the costs to your customers.  Or imagine you’re the owner of an even smaller firm hoping to make a play at your regional competitors.  But you have 499 employees, and for the sake of argument, the ADA fully kicks in at 500 employees.  If you hire just one more, you will fall under the ADA.  In other words, hiring just one thirty-thousand-dollar-a-year employee will cost you millions.

The ADA surely has admirable intent and legitimate merits [and maybe MCLE does too, although I always assumed it was due to lobbying by MCLE providers.  –Ed.].   But the very nature of such do-gooding legislation empowers large firms, entwines them with political elites, and serves as a barrier to entry for smaller firms.  Indeed, the penalties and bureaucracy involved in even trying to fire someone can amount to guaranteed lifetime employment.  Smaller firms can’t take the risk of being forced to provide a salary in perpetuity, while big companies understand that they’ve in effect become “too big to fail” because they are de facto arms of the state itself.  (pp. 306-307.)

You can understand why the above language resonated so strongly with me.  I guess the last word on this subject, both vis a vis MCLE and ADA should go to an old saying:  The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

More gold in Goldberg *UPDATED*

I’m still enjoying every page of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, and I thought I’d share with you a few more points that I thought either summed up perfectly something most of us have already figured out or explained why I’d been suffering from cognitive dissonance for so long trying to understand the liberal historic paradigms offered up in college and beyond.

I think Goldberg has summed up as well as anyone can the liberal view of race, and the liberal view of conservatives vis a vis race. Here is his summary of liberals and race:

Even on the liberal left [as opposed to the black supremacist left, which speaks in terms surprisingly reminiscent of Nazi racial ideology], where the poisonous notions are far more diluted, it is axiomatic that there is something inherently and distinctly good about blacks. How so? Well, it must be so. If you buy into the various doctrines of multiculturalism and identity politics you already believe that blackness is distinct, immutable, and unchanging. Once you accept this logic — and the left obviously does — you are then left with a fairly simple choice. If race is not neutral, if “race matters,” as Cornell West says, then how does it matter? Given the choice between assigning a positive value or a negative value, liberals opt for the positive. (p. 278.)

Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to believe race is a matter of skin color. They keep in mind two important historic phrases: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” and “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” This is what Goldberg calls “race neutrality.” How is it that an outlook that says race doesn’t matter routinely gets transformed into cries of “racist”? Jonah answers that question too:

There are only three basic positions. There is the racism of the left, which seeks to use the state to help favored minorities that it regards as morally superior. There is racial neutrality, which is, or has become, the conservative position. And then there is some form of “classical racism” — that is, seeing blacks as inferior in some way. According to the left, only one of these positions isn’t racist. Race neutrality is racist. Racism is racist. So what’s left? Nothing except liberalism. In other words, agree with liberals and you’re not racist. Of course, if you adopt color blindness as a policy, many fair-minded liberals will tell you that while you’re not personally racist, your views “perpetuate” racism. And some liberals will stand by the fascist motto: if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Either way, there are no safe harbors from liberal ideology. Hence, when it comes to race, liberalism has become a kind of soft totalitarianism and multiculturalism the mechanism for a liberal Gleichschaltung. If you fall outside the liberal consensus, you are either evil or an abettor of evil. This is the logic of the Volksgemeinschaft in politicaly correct jargon. (p. 283.)

Goldberg also explains why I’ve always suffered from cognitive dissonance when being told that the Nazis were capitalist fat cats, so that people who believe in capitalism, and don’t view corporations as enemies, are fascists. This clashed head on with a few things I knew about Nazis: they hated capitalism, which is part of why they loathed Jews; they were socialists; they semi-nationalized most industries; and they were a populist movement that started with the Volk in Munich. As to this last, they were very hostile to aristocrats (who created the group that came up with the plot to assassinate Hitler) and industrialists. Those aristos and industrialists who became ardent Nazis did so because they shared its antisemitism and its Aryan racism, or because they saw that the Nazi nation was a profitable entity, with a good government trough. All that being the case, why did Nazism, and therefore “fascism,” get tied up with capitalism? Here’s why:

Doctrinaire Marxism-Leninism defined fascism as “the most reactionary and openly terrorist form of the dictatorship of finance capital, established by the imperialistic bourgeoisie to break the resistance of the working class and all the progressive elements of society.” Trotsky, an admirer of Mussolini’s, conceded that fascism was a “plebian movement in origin” but that it was always “directed and financed by big capitalist powers.” This interpretation was foreordained because by the 1920s communists were convinced that they were witnessing capitalism’s long overdue collapse. Marxist prophecy held that the capitalists would fight back to protect their interests rather than face extinction in the new socialist era. [The Marxist version of the “left behind” theory, I guess.] When fascism succeeded in Italy, communist seers simply declared, “This is it!” At the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in 1922, less than a month after the March on Rome — long before Mussolini consolidated power — the assembled communists settled on this interpretation with little debate over the actual facts on the ground. (p. 286-287.)

In other words, because Marxism assumed that there would be a last gasp of capitalism before the inevitable communist take-over, and because fascism appeared when the Marxist chronology had dictated that this last gasp would occur, therefore fascism was the last gasp of capitalism — a false syllogism if I ever heard one. It sure does explain, though, why I never could make head nor tail of the line taught me at Berkeley — namely, that fascism is simply capitalism carried to the extreme.

And my last Goldberg point for now has to do with a rather charming irony. Do you remember liberal outrage that Cheney sat down with industry leaders to draft rules governing the industry? (And for the life of me, sitting here this morning, I can’t remember which industry it was that Cheney had the termerity to meet with.) It turns out that the close relationship between big industry and government is a long and honorable progressive tradition, one that began even before Wilson’s ultimate progressive WWI government. Goldberg explains that big industry originally encouraged government regulation for an anticompetitive purpose — it knew that small players couldn’t afford to keep up with government requirements. For example, when Upton Sinclair wrote his famous 1906 muckraking book The Jungle, about the meatpacking industry, he was being just a bit disingenuous:

The problem is that it’s [the liberal myth that progressive government forced unwilling corporations to become humane] totally untrue, a fact Sinclair freely acknowledged. “The Federal inspection of meat was, historically, established at the packers’ request,” Sinclair wrote in 1906. “It is maintained and paid for by the people of the United States for the benefit of the packers.” (p. 291.)

Originally, government was hostile to this kind of thing, because it was meant for anti-competitive purposes. However, when Wilson, the first progressive took the White House and was able to use WWI to begin his experiments, he immediately set about controlling big business — and big business went along with it, believing that it would drive out competition and increase profits:

Big business and the Wilson administration formed the Council of National Defense, or CND, according to Wilson, for the purpose of redesigning “the whole industrial mechanism . . . in the most effective way.” “It is our hope,” Hudson Motor Car Company’s Howard Coffin explained in a letter to the Du Ponts “that we may lay the foundation for that closely knit structure, industrial, civil, and military, which every thinking American has come to realize is vital to the future life of this country, in peace and in commence, no less than in possible war.”

When the war broke out, the CND was largely folded into the War Industries Board, or WIB. Run by the “dollar-a-year-men” from the world of finance and business, the WIB set prices, trade quotas, wages, and, of course, profits. Trade associations were formed along vaguely syndicalist lines. “Business willed its own domination, forged its bonds, and policed its own subjection,” wrote Grosvenor Clarkson, a WIBer and historian of the effort. The aim was for the “concentration of commerce, industry and all the powers of government.” “Historians have generally concluded,” writes Robert Higgs, “that these businessmen-turned-bureaucrats used their positions to establish and enforce what amounted to cartel arrangements for the various industries.” (p. 293.)

As Goldberg repeatedly states throughout his book, when Roosevelt’s New Deal came along, there was nothing “new” about it. Almost without exception, its policies simply resurrected the policies that Wilson had put into place during WWI. One of these policies should remind you of the infamous Cheney/industry meeting:

The propaganda of the New Deal — “malefactors of great wealth” and all that — to the contrary, FDR simply endeavored to re-create the corporatism of the last war. The New Dealers invited one industry after another to wrote the codes under which they would be regulated (as they had been begging to do in many case). (p. 293; emphasis mine.)

In other words, Cheney was doing nothing more or less than aping the Left’s idol — FDR.

If you can get a hold of a copy of Goldberg’s book, I really urge you to read it. As I noted before, it will explain how liberals ended up where they are, and why it’s the conservatives who wrongly get the pejorative label “fascist.”

UPDATE: It seemed appropriate to include in this post three links to good discussions about Obama and the race card, since it seems very likely that, if Obama is the Democratic candidate, anyone who does not vote for him will be castigated as a racist and, if he loses, the entire nation will be called to account for that “shame.” Article 1 is at Cheat-Seeking Missiles, Article 2 is at Commentary Magazine’s blog, and Article 3 is Charles Sykes, writing at American Thinker.

In the same vein, I had an interesting conversation with my mother, who gets her news solely from MSM television. She agreed with me that Obama lacks any meaningful experience, that he’s untried, and that he’s basically an empty shirt. She also agreed that his political positions do not represent the view of all Americans — and possibly represent the views of fewer than half of all Americans. Nevertheless, she then announced that if Obama loses, it will be because Middle America is racist and will not vote for a black. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a map of the US with me, because I think she forgot where Iowa is. My Mom is an intelligent, humane woman with a lot of common sense. Her take on Barack Obama, though, shows how even the best mind can start showing signs of cognitive dissonance if it is exposed to nothing more than the MSM.

UPDATE II: I read the Charles Sykes (American Thinker) article after I’d had the conversation with my mother and after I’d written about the conversation, above. I think Sykes must have been eavesdropping on my conversation, though, or looking over my shoulder as I blogged:

A central tenet of modern liberalism, after all, is the unshakeable conviction that white American is deeply and irredeemably racist. For three decades, America’s white liberals have invested in the belief that American is so incapable of racial fairness that society needs a panoply of laws, preferences, quotas, set-asides, and remedial programs to ensure that black people are treated fairly.

All of those policies are fundamentally based on the belief that America is deeply racist, that their fellow Americans are personally biased and institutionally prejudiced — consciously and unconsciously, intentionally and structurally; racist in history and practice.

It follows that many race-holding liberals will be among the last to believe that America will ever elect an African-American as president.

White liberals face this cognitive dissonance: if they decide that America is ready for a black president and back Obama they would also be forced to surrender or at least modify decades of convictions about American bias.

More Goldberg gems

I just have to share with you a few more gems from Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, and then I really, really have to buckle down and get some paying work done.

First, regarding the constant calls for unity that we’re hearing from the Democratic side of the primaries:

[Howard] Dean, speaking for many, paints the 1960s as a time of great unity. “People my age really felt that way.” But this is patent nonsense. “People” didn’t feel that way. The people Howard Dean knew felt that way — or at least their nostalgia causes them to think they did. It’s bizarre how many people remember the 1960s as a time of “unity” and “hope” when it was in reality a time of rampant domestic terrorism, campus tumult, assassinations, and riots. [Which is how I, an unpoliticized small child during that era, remember it.] Nostalgia for their own youth can’t explain this myopia, since liberals also pine for the 1930s as a time when “we were all in it together.” This, too, is a gross distortion. The United States was not unified in the 1930s; it was torn by political unrest, intense labor violence, and the fear that one totalitarianism or another lay just around the corner. If unity alone was the issue, the left would pine for the 1950s or even the 1920s. But the left didn’t thrive in these decades, so any unity enjoyed by Americans was illegitimate.

In other words, it is not unity the left longs for but victory; unity on terms not their own (such as the “staid conformity” of the 1950s) is false and misleading. In the 1930s and 1960s, the left’s popular front approach yielded real power — and that is the true object of liberal nostalgia; nothing more, nothing less. (pp. 171-172.)

Immediately following the above words, but in a new subchapter, Goldberg expands on the left’s obsession with unity — solely on its own terms, of course:

The elevation of unity as the highest social value is a core tenet of fascism and all leftist ideologies. Mussolini adopted the socialist symbol of the fasces [bundle] to convey that his movement valued unity over the liberal democratic fetish of debate and discussion. That clanking unrhymed chant we hear at protect rallies today — “The people united will never be defeated!” — is a perfectly fascist refrain. Perhaps it is true that “the people united will never be defeated,” but that doesn’t mean the people are right (as Calvin Coolidge liked to say, “One with the law on his side is a majority”). We tend to forget that unity is, at best, morally neutral and often a source of irrationality and groupthink. Rampaging mobs are unified. The Mafia is unified. Marauding barbarians bent on rape and pillage are unified. Meaningwhile, civilized people have disagreements, and small-d democrats have arguments. Classical liberalism is based on this fundamental insight, which is why fascism was always antiliberal. Liberalism rejected the idea that unity is more valuable than individuality. For fascists and other leftists, meaning and authenticity are found in collection enterprises — of class, nation, or race — and the state is there to enforce that meaning on everyone without the hindrance of debate. (p. 172.)

If the above sounds familiar to you, it may be because you read Dennis Prager last week in which he reflected on the practical implications of the Democratic obsession with unity:

Virtually all calls for unity — whether national, international or religious (as in calls for Christian unity) — do not tell the whole truth.

If those who call for unity told the whole truth, this is what they would say: “I want everyone to unite — behind my values. I want everyone who disagrees with me to change the way they think so that we can all be united. I myself have no plans to change my positions on any important issues in order to achieve this unity. So in order to achieve it, I assume that all of you who differ with me will change your views and values and embrace mine.”

***

It is fascinating how little introspection Sen. Obama’s “unity” supporters engage in — they are usually the very people who most forcefully advocate multiculturalism, who scoff at the idea of an American melting pot and who oppose something as basic to American unity as declaring English the country’s national language. Their advocacy of multiculturalism and opposition to declaring English the national language are proof that the calls of the left-wing supporters of Barack Obama for American unity are one or more of three things: 1. A call for all Americans to agree with them and become fellow leftists. 2. A nice-sounding cover for their left-wing policies. 3. A way to further their demonizing of the Bush administration as “divisive.”

Given what Sen. Obama’s calls for unity really mean — let’s all go left — it is no wonder he and his calls for unity are enthusiastically embraced by the liberal media.

For nearly eight years the media and Democrats have labeled President Bush’s policies “divisive” simply because they don’t agree with them. They are not one whit more divisive than Sen. Obama’s positions. A question for Democrats, the media and other Obama supporters: How exactly are Mr. Obama’s left-wing political positions any less “divisive” than President Bush’s right-wing positions?

Second, the craving for unity is frequently childish. As we mature we understand that decent people will differ politically and theologically. The mature yearn for unity only on a handful of fundamental values, such as: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Beyond such basics, we yearn for civil discourse and tolerance, not unity.

A byproduct of the obsessive need for unity is the fact that truth becomes unnecessary.  As long as everybody can be brought around to believing the same mythology, truth can actually be a liability.  After discussing a phony cross burning incident that was used to justify the student takeover at Cornell University, Goldberg points out that the fakery behind the cross burning was unexceptional on the left:

As the cross-burning incident at Cornell demonstrated, this preference for arousing passions at the expense of truth and reason defined the agenda for those fighting in [the 1960s Leftist] trenches.  The practice of “lying for justice” — always acceptable on the communist left — was infused into the American New Left with potency.  The catch-phrase at the Columbia uprising was “the issue is not the issue.”  No wonder, since the actual “issue” — building a gym in adjacent Harlem — was such small beer.  For most of the activists, deceit wasn’t the point.  The point was passion, mobilization, action.  As one SDS member proclaimed after he and his colleagues seized a building and kidnapped a dean, “We’ve got something going on here and now we’ve just got to find out what it is.”  (p. 179.)

Just for fun, see if you can think up some fakeries used by the liberals and their fellow travelers at home and abroad in the last few years alone to incite mobs.  My first thought is Rathergate.  There, even though the media was eventually forced to conclude that the documents were probably forged, that didn’t matter because they were “fake but accurate.”  Other examples abroad including the Jenin Massacre that wasn’t; the fake death of Muhammad al-Durah; and the Temple Mount lies.  There are more, but that’s a start.  For the Left, whether fascist or communist, truth is an irrelevancy that gets in the way of power politics.  You have to pity the right (whether Christian or otherwise), which is inconveniently burdened by Christ’s injunction that “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  John 8:32.

Identity politics then and now

I have been incredibly embarrassed by the fact that so many women (a) are voting for Hillary just because she’s a woman and (b) were more likely to vote for her because she cried.  It makes me want to hand in my gender identity card.  Are women really so stupid that they can’t rise above their self-involved narcissism and look at the candidates’ actual qualities — his or her experiences, policy beliefs, abilities, etc?  Apparently they are.  It’s just humiliating to share the same chromosomes with these females.

What’s interesting about this narrow, anti-intellectual, anti-knowledge mindset, a political approach that actually confers no practical benefit on the person holding it, is that it tends to parallel the identity politics viewpoint that German fascism took (as distinguished from Italian Fascism, which did not have a racial natural outgrowth of fascism).  I was lucky enough yesterday to get hold of Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, and the subject of identity politics keeps cropping up over and over again as he looks at the politics of the Left.  He’s very careful not to call today’s Leftists Nazis — and he means it when he says it — but he does note points of congruence between American identity politics and Nazi-style fascism:

For most of his career, Mussolini considered anti-Semitism a silly distraction and, later, a necessary sop to his overbearing German patron.  Jews could be good socialists or fascists if they thought and behaved like good socialists or fascists.  Because Hitler thought explicitly in terms of what we would today call identity politics, Jews were irredeemably Jews, no matter how well they spoke German.  His allegiance, like that of all practitioners of identity politics, was to the iron cage of immutable identity.  (p. 62.)

The same can, of course, be said for the way in which liberals approach identity — and it goes a long way to explaining the current explosion or racial and sexist argument emanating from the Left right now.  To people on the Left, blacks are nothing more than black — it is the prism through which everything is filtered.  Women are solely women, although it becomes problematic when women also happen to be black.  Gays are defined by their sexuality, and nothing more (which is why, once they’ve figured out their sexuality, it becomes imperative to teach them how to live like good little gays).  Once you’re gay or black or female, you can never again be a doctor or a lawyer or a truck driver or a manager.  You are a gay lawyer, or a female truck driver, or a black manager.   So what are you to do, as a good liberal, when you’ve got two oppressed people vying for the Presidency?

On the Right, we ask what is their experience?   What are their skills?  What policies do they advocate?  Are they effective people?  Are they reasonably honest?  Will they advance American interests in security and economic matters?  Who are their associates?  On the Left they ask, is he black enough?  Is she female enough?  Is he black but the wrong type of black (Sidney Poitier instead of Malcolm X or Martin Luther King)?  Is she female, but not sufficiently in touch with her femininity?  Interesting questions all to the racist or feminist, BUT WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO DO WITH GOVERNING THE COUNTY?

Incidentally, as regards labels, Goldberg discusses one other aspect of labeling that emanates from the Left and that has always bewildered me.   Now I finally get it.  Some history first — my own history, I mean.  I grew up as a good Democrat, reviling the right.  The only thing is, I wasn’t really sure what right wing ideas were, other than hatred of blacks and poor people.  As I got more sophisticated, I got more confused.  I figured out that Democratic welfare policies tended to keep people mired in poverty, which can be an “I like the poor” platform only if you add “I like them so much that I aim to keep them that way in perpetuity.”  I also learned that it was the Democrats (and aren’t they the Left?) who hated blacks, at least during the seminal civil rights era.  I also figured out that famous figures labeled as right wing fascists, such as Father Coughlin, the famous radio priest, spouted socialists ideas, including the end of capitalism and private property.  These ideas are, of course, Marxist, and I don’t think anyone argues Marx’s Leftist qualifications.  Goldberg explains it all.  He begins by giving a bit of Coughlin’s history, as well as his relationship to the White House, which ended with the White House fearfully sloughing him off when he went too far:

So how did Coughlin [whose Leftist bona fides Goldberg spent pages establishing] suddenly become a right-winger?  When did he become persona non grata in the eyes of liberal intellectuals?  On this the historical record is abundantly clear:  liberals started to call Coughlin a right-winger when he moved further to the left.

This isn’t nearly as contradictory as it sounds.  Coughlin became a villian in late 1934 almost solely because he had decided that FDR wasn’t radical enough.  FDR’s less than fully national-socialist policies sapped Couglin’s patience — as didhis reluctance to make the priest his personal Rasputin.  (p. 141.)

The liberals’ treatment of Coughlin (and Huey Long) set the template for liberal name calling ever after.  Thus, after describing Coughlin’s fall from liberal grace, Goldberg adds:

This returns us to one of the most infuriating distortions of American political debate.  In the 1930s, what defined a “right-winter” was almost exclusively opposition to Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal.  The muckraking journalist J.T. Flynn, for example, is often labeled a leading light of the Old Right for no other reason than that he was a relentless FDR critic and a member of American First (indeed, he was one of the most articulate voices decrying the incipient fascism of the New Deal).  But Flynn was no classical liberal.  He had been a left-leaning columnist for the New Republic for much of the 1930s, and he denounced Roosevelt of moving in what he considered a rightward direction.  As for his isolationism, he considered himself a fellow traveler with Norman Thomas, head of the American Socialist Party, Charles Beard, and John Dewey.  (p. 143.)

In other words, beginning in the 1930s, the pejorative label “right wing” didn’t describe a person’s position on the political spectrum at all.  Instead, it simply meant that the person was advocating policies that New Dealers, Socialists, and Liberal Fascists* didn’t like.  And, in the same spirit of name calling, “fascist” is whatever  these same people really don’t like, wherever it falls on the political spectrum.  Now I get it.

__________________________________

*Please read Goldberg’s book to understand why “Liberal Fascist” is not a smear term a la Bushitler or Hitllary, but is instead a historically accurate term (which H.G. Wells coined) to describe a specific nationalist, totalitarian approach to socialist politics.