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October 02, 2013

If The Government' Shut Down, How Come I'm Workin' So Hard? Open Thread

Early night tonight. You know why? Because I don't have a CPR-trained intern currently funded and I need to do maintenance on my Molecules.

Charles C.W. Cooke takes a look at shutdowns through history, and notes this is the first one in which one side -- that would be The Searchlight Stalker Harry Reid and his sidelined flunkie Obama -- has simply refused to negotiate at all.

The frequency with which America has previously reached this point betrays another inconvenient truth: the willingness to shut down the federal Leviathan is by no means limited to the advocates of small government. As my colleague Andrew Stiles notes today, during the supposedly bipartisan wonder years of Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill — which are typically rolled out by revisionists to demonstrate what can happen if we all just “work together” — the government shut down no fewer than eight times, mostly at O’Neill’s insistence. Likewise, during Bill Clinton’s eight years in office, which are fondly remembered as a time of solid economic growth and bipartisan achievement, the government was sent home twice — on both occasions after Clinton rejected the budget.

Overall, the statistics might surprise: Of the 17 shutdowns in America’s history, Democrats controlled the House during 15 and had charge of both chambers during eight. Five shutdowns happened under unified government! This makes sense. Government shutdowns are caused by legitimate and welcome disagreement between equal branches. They are certainly more likely to happen in divided government, but it is not a prerequisite.

Meanwhile, the Left reacts with its characteristic even-temperedness when challenged -- Here's one article, called "Is It Time to Abolish Congress?"

And the paper Jeff Bezos recently purchased, the Dupont Circle Advertiser & Gazette, argues that the president should be a King elected for four years at a time, with virtually all government power vested in his single person.

Max Weber, in conversation with Gen. Erich Ludendorff, advanced my personal favorite theory of democracy: “In a democracy the people choose a leader in whom they trust. Then the chosen leader says, ‘Now shut up and obey me.’ ” People and party are then no longer free to interfere in his business. …Later the people can sit in judgment. If the leader has made mistakes — to the gallows with him!”

Hanging leaders rather than failing to reelect them seems a mite harsh, but the overall idea here is exactly right.

This article talks about branding, which I think is an empty topic, but then ties branding to tribalism.

Over the last century, brands have grown at a breakneck speed. We are living in a world with over 100 brands of bottled water. The U.S. is home to over 45,000 shopping malls, and there are over 19,000,000 permutations of beverage selections you can order at your local Starbucks.

In addition to asking whether this plethora of choice is good or bad, we should be seeking to understand why we behave this way in the first place. Why do we have this drive to telegraph our affiliations and beliefs with symbols, signs, and codes? Why do humans create tribes?

The prospect that this trend will slow down is remote, so as a result I believe the underlying causes and outward expressions of these activities and practices are reflective of the way we live today.

Well... that's kind of obvious and not terribly interesting. But it does raise the question (for me, anyway): Are leftists' so excitable and lunatic about their Personal Political Brand precisely because society and culture are so fragmented? That is, without being told by an authoritarian or at least paternalistic power structure what they must be and how they must derive meaning in their lives, do they reach out to claw at any possible means of self-identificiation and validation?

I think people break down like this. Obviously, these are not hard and firm rules.

People who derive a sense of meaning from the vastness of God. These people, having found meaning in God, do not need to find it in a large corporate entity, such as Government, and tend to be more conservative, or at least are not drawn into progressivism by its strongest pitch (meaning).

People who thirst for a greater meaning but do not believe in God. Disbelieving in God, and yet needing the sense of transcendence that a belief in God offers, these people turn to the next-biggest entity beneath god, which is a national government. These people are not liberals per se, but progressives, and what they're "progressing" towards is sanctification and transcendence via the United Church of State.

People who do not particularly thirst for any kind of meaning. Such people, the All Dead Inside Contingent, I guess could go several different ways. Some will be Libertarians, some will be hedonists, some nihilists. Most apological (as most people are). But they seem to be only around 10% of the population.

The major thing, though, to me, is the Trouble With Progressives, because they are seeking something from government -- Meaning, Validation, Belonging, Transcendence -- that government simply isn't equipped to give.

So they're always hungry for more -- more government, that is.

The first group isn't a problem because it finds what it seeks outside of government. The third group isn't a problem because it's not looking for meaning.

But progressives... Progressives are crusading for the One True Church, the Church of the State. And, being mad zealots, empty inside of everything but gnawing spiritual hunger that cannot be appeased, will never stop crusading.

And speaking of: An exclusive, I think, from PJ Media -- SEIU paying McDonald's employees $15 per hour to protest WWII veterans at the WWII Memorial.


Why is this not a national outrage? Who the hell protests WWII vets apart from the Westboro Baptist Church?

Russ Douthat explains conservative complaints about government -- and gets it all right, actually.

This divide, I think, explains a lot of the mutual incomprehension surrounding size-of-government debates. To liberals and many moderates, it often seems like the right gets what it wants in these arguments and then just gets more extreme, demanding cuts atop cuts, concessions atop concessions, deregulation upon deregulations, tax cuts upon tax cuts. But to many conservatives, the right has never come remotely close to getting what it actually wants, whether in the Reagan era or the Gingrich years or the now the age of the Tea Party — because what it wants is an actually smaller government, as opposed to one that just grows somewhat more slowly than liberals and the left would like. And this goal only ends up getting labeled as “extreme” in our debates, conservatives lament, because the right has never succeeded in dislodging certain basic assumptions about government established by F.D.R. and L.B.J. — under which a slower rate of spending growth is a “draconian cut,” an era of “small government” is one which in which the state grows immensely in absolute terms but holds steady as a share of G.D.P., and a rich society can never get rich enough to need less welfare spending per capita than it did when it was poorer.

And finally, to depress you, Robert Samuelson writes of the Dawn of the true Spoils Society.

There are two ways to become richer. One is to provide more goods and services; that’s economic growth. The other is to snatch someone else’s wealth or income; that’s the spoils society. In a spoils society, economic success increasingly depends on who wins countless distributional contests — not who creates wealth but who controls it. This can be contentious. Winners celebrate; losers fume.

...the relevant question is whether productive behavior (generating economic growth) is losing ground to predatory behavior (grabbing existing wealth and income). There are good reasons to think it is.


The smaller the gains [in GDP net national wealth each year], the more people will fight over existing income and wealth, because — as has been said — that’s where the money is.

Oh, and this is aweome. A Democrat, Mark Critz, told a joke about three Great Areas for Comedy -- women, gays, and rape -- a nearly all-female audience and no one will say what the joke was.

During the meeting Saturday, Michele Sellitto, who had attended the 2012 convention, asked Critz to tell her how he proposed “to represent the people of Pennsylvania when at a state Democratic women’s caucus you told a joke that was degrading to women and to gays.”

After more questions from Sellitto, Critz reportedly left the meeting.

The offending joke, according to Missa Eaton, who attended the convention, was about “a home invasion and a rape scene, and in the end the perpetrator is gay.”

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Why Critz, who was a congressman at the time he made the joke, thought it would be funny to tell a rape joke to a convention full of women, is unclear.

“Women don’t tend to take kindly to jokes about rape,” Eaton said.

The media is not interested in this story, of course.

Oh, and if you liked that gay-woman-rape joke that Democrat Mark Critz tells, then you'll love Evan Sayet's Conservative Comedy Tour show Tomorrow night at the Laugh Factory in LA.

If you've forgotten Evan, he did that great speech at Heritage some years back. I'll link it below.

And now, to make you laugh, Louisiana announced the number of new 404Care enrollees after one full day of signing up new clients suckers/marks/guinea pigs: You can read the number at this link, or see Dean Vernon Wormer below.

Here's Sayet's famous speech on how liberals think -- which he's an expert on, as he was once a liberal.

Here's his speech on his thesis "the Kindergarten of Eden," which also served as the title of a book he wrote. The basic idea is that leftists engage in a child-level moral reasoning which precludes them from ranking things in terms of highest-sought good and lower-sought goods. It all winds up a childlike jumble in their heads, and all they can say is "We want what's best," without bothering themselves to figure out what that might mean.

They just know you're wrong about what it means.

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posted by Ace at 06:43 PM

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