Wow. William Voegeli has written a great essay that is posted at The Claremont Institute; The Meaning of the Tea Party(via Instapundit). If you don't understand the Tea Party movement and honestly want to, and have the intellectual courage to go beyond the shallow denigration served up by many of our political and intellectual elites, then please take some time and read through it.
Excerpts don't do Voegeli's essay justice, because he provides important context that should not be missed, but here's one that gets to the heart of the matter as I see it:
The Tea Party scorn for the president's promises that all his transformative plans won't hurt a bit is about Obama, but also about something bigger. The voters are particularly unreceptive to presidential promises that sound too good to be true, because they have lived to regret listening to other such promises. Those promises were made by leaders of the new meritocracy, the one described by Brooks, in his comic sociology mode, as the "valedictocracy," populated by "Achievatrons" who "got double 800s on their SATs."
Without judging the validity of its complaint, Brooks asserts that the Tea Party movement is made up of people who "are against the concentrated power of the educated class. They believe big government, big business, big media and the affluent professionals are merging to form a self-serving oligarchy—with bloated government, unsustainable deficits, high taxes and intrusive regulation."
We can be less impartial. The sociological but not very comic reality is that Brooks's Achievatrons wound up being distrusted by millions of their countrymen the old-fashioned way—they earned it. Our new meritocratic masters have been more conspicuously smart than wise. They know a lot, but don't know what they don't know. Their self-regard as the modern Americans who are the "natural aristocrats" Jefferson looked for has left them with an exaggerated sense of their ownnoblesse, and a deficient awareness of their correspondingoblige. Their expectation that the rest of us will be deferential to their expertise, like citizens of European nations that are social but not especially political democracies, has triggered the Tea Party backlash, and the resurgence of the "Don't Tread on Me" spirit.
Yes. The "geniuses" that think they can replace reasonably free markets with government policy, that are driving us on a path to be more like Europe even as it totters on the brink of disaster, have earned our distrust. They may be smart, but they are not wise and in their childish arrogance they are not listening. The last line of this paragraph sums it up nicely(emphasis mine):
The Tea Party movement's grievance against the Eternal Valedictorians cannot be reduced to the lingering grudges of those who took a remedial class here and there against those who enrolled in Advanced Placement Everything. Obama got it basically right in San Francisco before he got it gruesomely wrong. A leadership class that actually improved ordinary Americans' security and opportunities would be forgiven condescension worse than Obama's. It's when the people running the country are both disrespectfulandineffectual that folks get angry.
Most of the general public does not have an inherent disdain for our political and intellectual elites. We recognize that we need their contributions to society for civilization to advance and prosper. But we also expect them to exercise intellectual honesty, competence, and at least a measure of restraint in their leadership, and respect our contributions and freedom as well. On every major issue we face today they are failing in those areas.
The result is a broad movement of dissatisfied citizens. The issues and their importance vary from person to person, but they are united in their belief that much of our current leadership, across party lines, is incompetent, dishonest, and disrespectful. Political parties can get away with the first two most of the time, but not all three and not on the scale we are seeing today.
Where all of this will go is anybody's guess, as November is still a long way off. I will say the attempts to belittle and denigrate the Tea Party movement are sure to backfire and make it grow. The only way to stop it or minimize its effect would be for our elites to humbly admit where they have erred and return to some level of competence and common sense in governing. I don't believe they have the intellectual honesty or integrity to do either. If they did, we wouldn't have gotten to this point in the first place.
I guess I really don't feel much like piling on. Except I will note that I don't ever want to see anyone at The Atlantic making general observations about how superior they are simply because of that layer of fact checking and editorial control:
Somewhere, Bill Clinton is smiling. One-time special prosecutor who uncovered the dirty details of the former President's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky has been engaged in some bad behavior of his own, according to the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission.
Correction (~3:18pm):Apparently there are two famous Kenneth Starrs. The one charged is an investment advisor to the stars, but not the former special prosecutor. Apologies to Bill Clinton if we got his hopes up -- and to the other Kenneth Starr.
I will give credit to the unknown adult there who has not allowed this to just disappear down the memery hole. Maybe Mr. Indiviglio and a few others *cough*Andrew Sullivan*cough* will learn something.
I have little hope that the media will actually jump on this, but I hope Charles Djou takes him up on his demand and then turns and asks that President Obama does the same:
Tongue firmly in cheek,Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)on Tuesday afternoon called on reporters to demand to see the birth certificate of newRep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii).
As Djou (pictured here) was being sworn into office, Frank walked the hallway of the Speaker's Lobby off the House floor calling on the media to "do your job" and review Djou's papers.
The whole "birther" thing is alternately annoying and amusing to me. Amusing in the sense that the State of Hawaii has provided all of the evidence, in the form of a summary certificate, that is required to prove Obama's eligibility to be president. Anyone who thinks otherwise is living a fantasy that will never come to pass. That said, Barack Obama has never released his original and full birth certificate and it is annoying to see media dolts like Chris Mathews obfuscate and provide cover for Obama by claiming that he has. I don't believe for a minute that anything would or even should change at this point, but I would like to know what the man we elected to the most powerful office in the world is hiding.
According to this website, Djou was born in Hawaii. If that's the case, Djou should release his original birth certificate and then demand that Obama do the same. I'd love to see Barney Frank respond to that just for the comical splutter value. Not going to happen, I know, but it's humorous to think about.
The Dow Jones industrials plunged below 10,000 Tuesday as traders turned away from stocks amid worries about the global economy and tensions between North and South Korea.
The Dow fell 206.51, or 2.1 percent, to 9,859.76. It closed at 10,066 on Monday and has fallen 1,346 points, or more than 12 percent, from its recent high of 11,205, reached April 26.
Investors also exited the euro and commodities including oil and again sought the safety of Treasurys. That sent yields and interest rates lower. The benchmark 10-year note's yield fell to its lowest level since April 2009.
World stock markets also fell sharply.
Well, panic probably isn't the right word, but things are definitely getting hinky again. It's only going to take one major incident, and there are more than a couple of potential ones out there, to cause the markets to take a major drop. My bet is on a double-dip recession, caused mainly by events in Europe, but exacerbated by our own fiscal insanity. The madmen in North Korea could get the ball rolling too though. Take your pick.
You can spread the blame around, but I think history will lay most of it on President Obama. Had he chosen to govern like the moderate he claimed to be, he would have checked the worst excesses of Pelosi and Reid. He would have focused on fiscal stability after getting the banks on their feet and calming rather than alarming the business community. Instead, he scared the hell out of them and they hunkered down.
A steep drop in the markets is going to make everyone hunker down again. The job cuts will not be as severe, but that will be little help to those already unemployed. Fasten your seat belts, it's going to get bumpy again.
Update: I was pleasantly surprised to see that the markets rallied late this afternoon and the Dow ended down only 22.82. That's good to see after this morning's 290 point plunge. How much to read into that I'm not sure. Things still seem pretty fragile, but -22 is a damn sight better than -290.
The problem is that the saying “shit happens” didn’t come into being because shit doesn’t happen, but because it ALWAYS happens. ALWAYS. And we’ve all been there and all said it and all cleaned shit up. Which is why you plan for it, why you have seven different ways to fix the twelve different things that might go to shit and know at least eighteen different people who have an idea what to do if you do. Why you use an exponent for expertise depending on the difficulty/level of possible public embarrassment/natural disaster involved in the project at hand.
Aside from what may be some minor disagreement about the phrase "shit happens", she's right. Pushing the envelop in deep sea oil drilling demanded more rigorous procedures and more rigorous oversight than ever.
I think scandal one here is the shortcuts taken just before the accident occurred, if last week's 60 Minutes report is accurate. Scandal two is the failure to prepare for all contingencies and have a response ready to be implemented very quickly. At this stage, five weeks into this mounting disaster, the response is a failure no matter what happens now.
And scandal three, potentially, popped into my mind as the talk last week turned to the top kill attempt to seal off the well completely. Why wasn't that done earlier?
I have the sinking feeling that this whole damage control effort has been heavily skewed into finding a way to save BP's investment in that well and not toward limiting the environmental damage. I don't know that to be the case, but I think it deserves to be investigated and whether federal officials have been too deferential up to this point in seeing BP salvage what it can of that wellhead. There may be solid technical reasons for taking the steps they have so far in the order they have taken them, but I would also like to know if there were other options available that would have shut this leak down earlier, and if so, why were they not taken?
I had to say goodbye to an old friend before heading into the office on this gloomy morning:
That box elder was a big tree when I moved in 20 years ago. It's been struck by lightning several times, including about a week after I moved in. That went right through the bedroom and missed my bed by about a foot. As big as it is now, it has lost large limbs over the years, more than I care to count.
It looks healthier than it really is. There are some big branches hanging over the house that are dead now, and I had two different tree companies come out to give me an estimate on pruning them out. Both said they would do that if I wanted, but both also pointed out the same weak spots that led them to believe that even some of the healthy looking foliage was actually very weak. This tree wasn't going to make it more than a couple more years and even if they pruned it there was significant risk of it coming down entirely in a big storm.
I hate to see it go, but that's the way it is. I would have hated even more to have it crash through my roof. If there is any upside here it is that the garden will get a few more hours of late afternoon sun. You take what upside you can get I guess.
President Obama has held Spain up as an example of how to create so called green jobs many times over the last few years. Over the last week or so though, there have been reports in the new media about a study that claims that each new green job in Spain actually costs 2.2 other jobs. This has happened primarily due to increased electricity costs, but government subsidies and policies have also warped the allocation of capital into these green jobs and away from industry that would create other long-term jobs. The entire study is available here in pdf form.
Media in Spain are picking up the story now, but as of this morning I find no hint of it on the New York Times or the Washington Post, or any other major US media via google news search. As Congress debates energy legislation, you would think that the real world example of Spain would be a hot topic of discussion. Energy legislation will touch every aspect of the economy and proponents of a carbon tax hold out the promise of green jobs as a major way to mitigate the negative economic impacts that increasing the cost of energy will produce. But are those green jobs actually job killers for the rest of the economy? Do we want to create 3 million jobs at the cost of 6.4 million others?
I don't think so, but we should at least talk about it. I get the feeling though, that ideology has triumphed over reality and Congress is hurtling down the path anyway, facts be damned. I also have the sinking feeling that the major media in this country are going to ignore this story. Perhaps the scholars who produced the study are wrong and there is a rebuttal out there that makes more sense. If that's the case, shouldn't we hear about it instead of ignoring the issue entirely?
And perhaps this will be prominently covered in the coming days and my worries will be for naught. Then we can have a reasonable debate about the right path to take that moves us to a sensible and economically viable energy policy. Pardon my cynicism, but I have my doubts.
This is the sort of thing that is as divisive to our politics as anything else. As of today, we have two sides with different realities. You have one side reading Pajamas Media and processing the info about Spain, and then thinking, what the hell are we doing? You have the other side, readers in the Post/Times bubble, hurtling down a path all content, smug, and dismissive in their ignorance.
Now how can that not lead to divisive politics? We'll see how it plays out, but this sort of thing is what people are pissed about these days. Our political elites seem to be turning us into Bullshit Nation by choosing ideology over reality on issue after issue and assuring us that ideology will triumph.
Sorry, my bet is on reality. And when it finally wins, it's going to be a bitch.
Two items related to free speech today. The first is regarding the latest round of nonsense from Congress on political speech, the second is on this whole Everybody Draw Mohammed Day thing.
What half-assed and sure to be muffed piece of legislation are they now working on in Washington D.C. ? Well, check this out:
The DISCLOSE Act’s purpose, according to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Chris Van Hollen and other “reformers,” is simply to require disclosure of corporate and union political speech after the Supreme Court’s January decision inCitizens United v. Federal Election Commissionheld that the government could not ban political expenditures by companies, nonprofit groups, and labor unions.
The bill, however, would radically redefine how the FEC regulates political commentary. A section of the DISCLOSE Act would exempt traditional media outlets from coordination regulations, but the exemption does not include bloggers, only “a communication appearing in a news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication…”
Read the whole thing and feel free to let me know what you think. I guess I want to see the exact language that the bill ends up with before I get too bent out of shape, but I also know that any attempt to stifle my free speech on this humble little blog will be met with a firm "go pound sand" from me. Now, I realize the odds of me coming to any authority's attention are pretty small, but there are amplifiers like Instalanches out there and anyone can be quickly catapulted far beyond their normal number of readers. Though the likely targets would be the big bloggers and internet opinion writers, this is about defending everybody's right to free speech and another reason to throw some of these idiots out of office in November.
What part of this don't they understand?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Hmmm...I guess I'll do a part II on the Mohammed issue.