I’m With Stupid

If you’re gone, baby it’s time to come home

There’s an awful lot of breathing room

But I can hardly move

            —Matchbox Twenty, If You’re Gone

 

A couple of weeks ago I was traveling on business, and while scrolling the TV channels in my hotel room I had the misfortune of the remote getting stuck briefly on what I gather was a “reality” show featuring the Kardashians—who for my life I can’t figure out why they’re famous or what about them merits anyone’s attention.  Two of them were in the kitchen, where one was preparing some sort of dish in which she was going to eat her own placenta.  That is not a typo, and I didn’t even make it up.  And for the record:  Ew.

But more seriously, this is the sort of garbage with which people are filling their minds?  And calling it “entertainment”?

It got me thinking that this is a real reflection of the root of what is so wrong with this country today.  Consider that among the top rated television programs today, those that aren’t football consist of offerings like The Big Bang Theory—which centers on a bunch of adults who are still obsessed with comic books, fantasy, and video games—and Modern Family—essentially an LGBT propaganda device.  Mix in juvenile remakes of The Odd Couple (Two and a Half Men) and Laverne & Shirley (Two Broke Girls), a half-dozen or so iterations of “talent” shows featuring performers of wildly varying degrees of actual ability, and a few versions of mindless and over-sexed “reality” de-selection shows like Survivor and The Bachelor, and you’ve got the bulk of today’s primetime bill of fare.

I lost 25 IQ points just typing that last paragraph.

It says a great deal when a current ad for the new Playstation 4 video game system features not adolescents, but unkempt twenty-somethings sitting in the wasteland of what had been their video game battleground, eating Taco Bell and taunting their friends for not having bought their new systems in time to arrive before the battle was over.  In other words, instead of pitching their latest toy by showing children in their living room playing a game, Sony features ostensible adults living in a fantasy land (a fantasy land, by the way, in which no one ever suffers any consequences, and even if you die you just go back to the last place you started).  And they do this for good reason: that’s who their market is.

The problem is, these people who spend their adult time watching the Kardashian sisters and playing video games also vote.  And one fears that a growing portion of the voting age population knows more about World of Warcraft than about the Constitution.  Unfortunately, there is evidence to support that fear.

Last year, U.S. News reported on an Xavier University study that showed over a third of American citizens failed the civics portion of the immigrant naturalization test (97% of immigrant citizenship applicants pass).  Among the lowlights: 

  • 85% could not define “the rule of law”
  • 75% did not know the function of the judicial branch
  • 71% could not identify the Constitution as “the supreme law of the land”
  • 63% could not name even one of their State’s Senators
  • 62% could not identify the Speaker of the House
  • 62% could not identify their State’s Governor
  • 57% could not define “amendment”

And the Xavier study isn’t an aberration.  In a 2008 survey by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute—repeating their results from two previous studies—71% of Americans failed a basic multiple choice test of American history, civics, and economics; the average score was a 49 (I scored a 94, for those who are wondering).  Those with a college education fared no better than those without.  Again in summary: 

  • Less than half could name the three branches of government
  • Only 21% knew that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
  • Only 53% knew that the power to declare war resides with Congress; 40% thought it belonged to the President
  • 27% knew that the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits the establishment of an official national religion
  • Less than 20% knew that the phrase “a wall of separation” between church and state comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson; almost half believe—incorrectly—that it can be found in the Constitution.

More and more, the people of this country know less and less about where America came from, the idea of self-governance upon which it was originally based, or the rules framework under which it was supposed to operate.  They don’t know what their rights are, what the source of those rights is, or what mechanisms the Founders established to protect them. 

Or why. 

But they damn sure know who’s in the finals of American Idol.  They know the rules of Survivor.  They can identify Miley Cyrus’ tongue (or whatever body part she’s most recently put on display).  They know how many days Lindsay Lohan spent in jail and rehab last month.  

Look, I understand that the whole population can’t be made up of Rhodes Scholars.  But you can’t expect a democratic republic to function when so many in the voting base that directs it have so little grasp of—or even know they have a personal stake in—how it works.  When people know (and care) more about who is sleeping with whom in Hollywood than they do about, say, Solyndra or Benghazi, they can’t possibly make informed decisions in the voting booth; that is particularly true when they also have no concept of the fact that of those three, two actually affect them and one does not.

But that’s where we are now.  People get more of their information about the world from their Twitter feed and vulgar comedians than they do from actual news sources (in fairness, that’s in part because there are virtually no real news sources left).  That’s why you have a President who spends more time acting hip and cool on Comedy Central, The View, and Letterman than he does answering substantive questions at press conferences, and yet still manages to get re-elected despite his objective record of abject failure.

As a sovereign people, we have abdicated the throne in favor of the boob tube.  The sad truth is too many of us have become too lazy to inform ourselves about what’s going on around us, especially with respect to what people in the District—people who are supposed to work for us, not rule over us—are actually doing.  And too many of us have become too soft or too fearful to engage in the critical thinking necessary for self-governance.  We’re much more interested in bathroom humor and sophomoric sexual innuendoes than in understanding our basic freedoms.  We prefer to experience the repeated death of a fantasy character in a fantasy world over learning about real world current events that affect our real lives. 

Apparently some of us will even watch an overweight moron devour her own afterbirth rather than pick up a copy of the Constitution. 

Speaking in a slightly different context, future President Ronald Reagan warned us in 1961:

“[I]f we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening.  Well, I think it’s time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers . . . If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to.  This is the last stand on earth . . . We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”

I fear we may be at that point, dragged into the abyss by the albatross of stupidity and willful ignorance hanging about our collective neck.

Advertisements

Can You Hear Me Now?

Edwards:       Drop the weapon and put your hands on your head.

K:                    I warned him.

Edwards:       Drop the weapon!

K:                    You warned him.

Edwards:       Don’t make me kill you.

Jeebs:              You insensitive prick!  Don’t you know how much that stings!

—Will Smith as Edwards, Tommy Lee Jones as K, and Tony Shalhoub as Jack Jeebs in Men In Black

OK, everybody who’s surprised by the colossal failure of the rollout of FUBARCare raise your hand.

Mr. Obama, you can put yours down.

Amazingly, the Progressives are still trying with a straight face to defend this thing, and some are even having the brass stones to blame Republicans for the problems.  But by now it is impossible for any remotely rational person not to see what a pack of lies this has been:

But the FUBARCare debacle over the last week is hardly surprising; to the contrary, it was utterly predictable, because it is merely the most recent illustration of this Administration’s consistent display of incompetence and deceit.  Indeed, is there anything this Administration has touched that hasn’t turned out to be a gigantic steaming pile of cow flop covered with (f)lies?

Afghanistan

The primary goal of our military involvement in Afghanistan was to “get” Osama Bin Laden.  That was achieved—in Pakistan—on May 2, 2011, over two and a half years ago, yet Americans are still dying in Afghanistan.  At last count, over 700 Americans—more than during the entire Bush administration—have been killed there since Bin Laden’s death.  Why?  Perhaps if Obama attended a security briefing once in awhile he’d be aware that our armed forces are still engaged in that theater.

Benghazi

On September 11, 2012, four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in a series of military-style assaults on our consulate—sovereign U.S. soil—in Benghazi, Libya.  Although Stevens had repeatedly warned of the deteriorating situation and requested additional security, although escalating incidents over the preceding several months had led the British to close their facility, and although the 9/11 anniversary posed an obvious symbolic targeting date, the Administration refused to bolster security and left the diplomatic personnel in place.  Although the President knew about the attacks less than 90 minutes after they began, and although they took place over a period of some nine hours as the President and his staff watched in real time via surveillance drone, the President did nothing.  That weekend, Obama sent U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice all over the Sunday talk shows with a series of talking points blaming a silly internet video when they knew it was an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist assault, while he ran around to multiple campaign fundraisers.  Obama later pledged to hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice, yet to date the only person jailed as a result has been the producer of the irrelevant internet film (who just recently got out of prison); no one in Libya has been arrested, and the Benghazi raid isn’t even among the crimes for which the Administration is offering a reward for information.

Economy and Budget

We’ve been told for several years now that we’re in a “recovery” from the Bush recession.  Obama has repeatedly said that he was focused like a laser on jobs, and that he “will not rest” until everyone has one.  Yet as of September, a full ten million people have left the workforce since Obama took office.  Workforce participation is now at a paltry 63%.  A recent Census Bureau report counts more people receiving means-tested government benefits (read: welfare) than with full-time jobs.  Meanwhile the national debt now exceeds $17 trillion, nearly double what it was when Obama took office (just under $10 trillion), Obama is continuing to spend at around a $4 trillion/year clip, and Harry Reid says “everybody” wants to pay more in taxes.

This is some rescue.

Fast & Furious

On December 14, 2010, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed in a gun battle with Mexican drug runners.  Guns used in the fight were traced back to Operation Fast & Furious, a Justice Department action in which illegal guns were deliberately permitted to be sold and transported outside the U.S. in an effort to track them to Mexican cartels.  Despite multiple memos and emails to Attorney General Eric Holder mentioning the program—including some from before Terry’s murder—Holder has steadfastly denied (read: lied) knowing anything about it.  Since then, he and the President have spent the better part of the last three years doing everything possible to avoid providing Congress, the American people, or the Terry family any information about it.

Government “Investments”

Obama the investment banker, in his infinite wisdom, illegally diverted $80 billion in TARP bailout money effectively to nationalize GM and Chrysler.  On the GM side alone, taxpayers are still out nearly $20 billion, and the GM stock still held by the government would have to triple in value for John Q. Public just to break even.  To put that in perspective, the first time in our entire history that the total federal budget reached $20 billion was 1942, and here we’re talking about the loss on a single piece of a single program.  Meanwhile as I have reported previously, Obama’s Energy Department has lost billions making high-risk loans to unproven “green energy” firms—many, not coincidentally, owned by huge Obama donors—that have gone belly-up.  And the few jobs “created” through the bailout and loans have in large part been overseas.  Not a particularly good rate of return.

IRS & NSA

When the IRS hasn’t been gearing up to serve as the jack-booted enforcers of FUBARCare, it turns out they’ve been selectively targeting conservative political groups to delay or deny them tax-exempt status.  Originally passed off as the isolated action of a couple of rogue low-level employees in Cincinnati, it is becoming increasingly clear that this was actually a deliberate program to weaponize the IRS as a political tool for the Left, overseen at the highest levels.  Meanwhile, we’re learning that the NSA has been—without a warrant—effectively spying on millions of innocent private U.S. citizens.  Once again, however, the Administration absolutely refuses to discuss either issue with Congress or the American people.

World Image

Obama took office pledging to restore America’s image in the world.  Then in his first official act, he embarked on a global apology tour, basically denouncing everything America has ever been or done.  Since then, he has displayed a breathtaking lack of leadership in the Middle East, he’s been horrifyingly weak in dealing with Russia, and he’s alienated and offended our European and Western Hemisphere allies by repeatedly getting caught spying on them (compounded by the fact that he never sits down with those leaders one-on-one to foster those relationships).  The Saudis have recently severed diplomatic ties.  And Obama’s relationship with Israel is so deteriorated that one suspects the only circumstance in which he wouldn’t piss on Benjamin Netanyahu is if the Prime Minister were on fire.  If there is left any nation that would count us as a friend, or at least acknowledge any respect for us, I don’t know who that would be.

At this point the grim reality has to be inescapable.  Even the true believers on the Left can’t avoid recognizing—without engaging in an unconscionable self-fraud—that this President is an embarrassingly epic failure.  He has accomplished exactly nothing positive, and the level of arrogance, ignorance, incompetence, and paranoia that permeates this Administration is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.  At the end of the day, we’re left with nothing but angry lectures, empty platitudes, cheesy staged political stunts, fundraisers, and golf.

And lies.  Upon lies.  Upon lies.

This is what you get when you elect a community organizer with literally zero real-world experience, whose sole drivers are a blind adherence to radical ideology, and a limitless thirst to erect a monument to his own ego, real-world results and consequences be damned.

Some of us tried to tell you . . .

The Evil Among Us

“All I want is what I . . . I have coming to me.  All I want is my fair share.”

            —Kathy Steinberg as the voice of Sally Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas

 

We are surrounded by an unspeakable evil.

Seventy-one members of the House (16%) have been in Congress twenty years or longer; 46 Democrats, 25 Republicans.  Sixteen of them (9 Democrats, 7 Republicans) have more than thirty years.  Many of the names are familiar:  Waters, Boehner, Pelosi, Hoyer, Waxman, Rangel, Conyers. Similarly, on the other side of the Capitol, sixteen Senators have more than twenty years’ tenure (and several of them served previously in the House).  You know many of their names as well:  Boxer, Feinstein, Reid, McCain, McConnell, Baucus, Hatch, Leahy.

That’s a lot of people who have been in the District a LOOOOONG time.  And I don’t for one second buy that anyone stays in office that long out of some unquenchable thirst to serve their fellow citizens.  The job comes with an enormous amount of cushy perks, prestige (or at least faux respect), and benefits.  Pensions, lots of taxpayer-funded travel under the guise of “fact-finding,” and as I’ve reported previously, more than a few somehow manage to accumulate substantial fortunes while spending a lifetime in office.  And as 60 Minutes reported over the weekend, some are dipping their personal snouts into their campaign troughs, as well. 

And, of course, there’s also power.  Naked power.  No, they are not interested in serving you; they’re interested in serving themselves.  They are motivated by two things, and two things only:  (1) living well at your expense, and (2) ruling you.

Life is good for the ruling class in the District, and it’s a huge part of why you see a lot of the insanity there that you do.  To maintain that sweet life, they have to keep getting themselves re-elected, and the easiest way to do that is to promise (and deliver) as much free stuff to as many people as possible.  That’s why our national debt now stands at in excess of $17 trillion.    That’s why the two single largest categories of federal spending (comprising nearly half the budget) are Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security—federally-subsidized medical care and retirement.  That’s why we have 47 million people—one in six—on food stamps.  That’s why the United States federal government is the single largest employer and single largest consumer on the planet.

And that’s why I sometimes refer to the District as The Beast.

So, in the interest of buying as many votes as possible, the progressives sponsor an endless string of spending programs, while the Republican establishment—every bit as vested in the same big-government machine as the Democrats, they just want to be in charge of it once in awhile—never offer more than token opposition.  The outgo is never checked, but at some point someone has to pay for the orgy; the solution is never to cut back, but to tax—read: take—still more.

But that’s not the real evil.

The way government has sold this behavior pattern is to convince one group of Americans—usually couched in flowery talk about the “middle class,” or in the charitable language of ending “poverty”—that the other group has unfairly acquired more wealth than they, and that they’ve done so at the first group’s expense.  The so-called “wealthy” have, simply by virtue of having more, cheated everyone else out of their fair share.  It is from this mentality taught to us by the unholy symbiosis of big government and progressive academia that we get things like the “Buffet Rule” and all the Occupy nonsense.

But notice the perverse morality play at work here.

This “fairness” pitch inherently—and erroneously—assumes that there is only a finite pool of wealth.  Only in a fixed wealth universe can we say that if I have a dollar it means you don’t, such that it’s unfair for me to have that dollar in the first place.  In a world where there is only, say, $1,000 in total wealth, my holding $100 is necessarily to the exclusion of someone else holding it.  I have for all practical purposes taken it from someone else.  My ability to obtain those dollars is thus immoral, and subjects me to the guilt of having deprived others.  And the greater my ability, the greater my guilt and the greater the measure of my associated moral debt. 

On the flip side, that others do not have those dollars—their need—creates a corresponding moral claim upon me.  The very fact that they do not have becomes a check drawn upon the bank account of my guilt, and it is a debt that can never be retired.  This affords them a clear conscience in accepting the government’s largesse at my expense, because they’ve been taught that as the needers—as they who do not have—they have the moral high ground.   

The problem with this moral code is that the zero-sum-if-I-have-it-you-don’t wealth universe upon which its logic rests isn’t the real world.  The wealth I hold is not irretrievably drawn from a permanently static pool to the exclusion of all other holders.  Put differently, the fact that I have is nothing to you, and has nothing to do with whether you have or don’t; I didn’t take it from you, I didn’t cheat you out of it, I don’t hold it at your expense, and the fact that I have it does absolutely nothing to prevent you from gaining as much for yourself as your effort and ability will allow.

To play off the old John Houseman pitch: I’ve made my money the old-fashioned way—I earned it.

What wealth I have has been accumulated, slowly over time, from wages I’ve been paid for my labor; from the minimum-wage jobs I held in high school and college, to the standardized test teaching I did in law school, to my positions as associate, counsel, and partner in private law firms, to the corporate position I hold today.  At each juncture, I traded my labor to my employer in a free, voluntary, mutually-beneficial exchange for the amount my employer was willing to pay for it because my labor represented a good to him: something he needed for his business.   My wages weren’t paid to me from a static pool, but instead were traded to me for what my skill and effort added to the pool of available wealth, because they enabled my employer to do something to further its own business; in the case of the law firms, to sell my effort to the firms’ clients, who needed that service in order to be able to conduct their own businesses.

This is what is known as “producing.” 

What is so monstrously evil about the morality embedded in this entitlement mentality with which so many have been brainwashed is it has turned morality and human virtue upside-down.  It has taken productivity—which should be a good thing—and made it immoral, because holding wealth, which is the measure of one’s ability to be productive, is a guilty debt owed to the rest of society as though you took it from them instead of added it to the global account.  The greater your ability to produce—the greater your virtue—the greater your guilt, and the greater the debt you owe.  But at the same time it has rewarded the lack of ability (or willingness) to produce—the less the virtue of adding to the universe of wealth—with the greater claim on that debt despite the fact (indeed, precisely because) it wasn’t earned.  And all of this is bundled and sold with the fundamental lie of victimhood: that anyone who has wealth didn’t get there by virtue of the value added through their talent and effort, but only because they’ve stolen from a static account that should have belonged to everyone else.

Boiled down to its essence, this moral code teaches that you and your life are not valuable in and of themselves.  Under this code, your only value and moral justification for existing is in your ability to produce wealth to be taken from you for the “needs” of others who do not produce.  And it enslaves both sides of the equation: the needers to the addictive cycle of depending upon taking from others at the expense of the self-esteem that is born of self-sufficiency; the producers to the grindstone of supporting the weight of the needers, all the while their very ability to do so is branded as their shame.  The former are forever parasites, the latter are forever victim-hosts, and neither realizes the fullness of human potential.

All to enable a permanent ruling class to live off you and wield power over you.

That is evil indeed.