Monday, August 31, 2009

Edward Kennedy and the Descent to Modern Liberalism

The death of liberal “icon” Edward Kennedy keeps the mind occupied pondering how modern liberalism came to be and how its adherents rationalize it all, given that it is the opposite of everything classic liberalism holds dear and the opposite of the enduring and liberating values that sustain this country. How and why have huge swaths of Americans left behind traditional values of personal liberty, personal responsibility, and self-reliance and the enabling framework of limited, divided government, rule of law, and equality of opportunity and of treatment, all to embrace various principles whose organizing theme is the need for government control over all significant aspects of life to enforce “fairness” and “equality”?

It is puzzling that there are those who feel that the answer to bias in years past is more bias in years to come, with just the beneficiaries and disadvantaged flip flopped. It is puzzling that for some the answer to poverty of culture and of skills is perpetual dependency on handouts from an impersonal government rather than the building a culture of personal responsibility, self-reliance, and achievement. Why for some is government, ever larger, more powerful, and more pervasive, always the first and last solution to all problems, real or imagined?

And why do so many of the privileged rich, be they trust-funders like Edward Kennedy or celebrities from the movies, embrace this totalitarian vision for government, when in their personal lives are one of license and liberties? David Pryce-Jones has perceptive thoughts (link) on this phenomenon at National Review online:
Senator Edward Kennedy was, and will remain, an outstanding example of a champagne socialist…. those who vote on the Left but dine on the Right. Such people are exploiting their privileged position in society to curry favor with those less privileged, and so find the way to continue being privileged while also being applauded for it. Clever, or what?.... In simple fact, [Edward Kennedy] owed everything in his career, especially his position in the Senate, to the fact that he had been born who he was, too well-connected and too rich ever to have to work his passage on his own. If this isn't privilege, what is?... As for morals, Chappaquiddick is only one incident among others when his behaviour proves him to have been a man of bad character. Normally speaking, ordinary people would never tolerate someone like him as their elected representative. To present himself as a tribune of the people was the only possible protective covering available to him. That he was successful in this respect, and comes to be buried in Arlington with the president speaking at the graveside, is really the only arresting feature of his career. He has enjoyed the sort of lifelong allowance that once would have been made for a corrupt eighteenth-century English duke. It is hard to believe that he was ever sincere in the populist causes he took up, declaiming about righting wrongs only to go home and commit plenty more wrongs of his own without having to account for them. That's champagne socialism for you, and it seems a taste everybody and anybody can get drunk on.
And for their techniques in pursuit of their aim of big-government enforcement of “fairness” and “equality” and “social justice”, Carol Iannone put it this way this past January at National Review Online, writing about modern liberalism through the prism of the notorious and quite nefarious frame-up of three innocent Duke college students on a falsified rape story by an ideologically corrupt liberal legal establishment (most notably by prosecutor Nifong, a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and the enabling judges) aided and abetted by a radicalized leftist university faculty and administration and a corrupt national media:
[I]t is important to note the distance that PC-liberalism has traveled from the older type of liberalism. In the older type, proper procedure, rule of law, innocent until proven guilty, etc., were highly respected principles, and informed many works of literature and popular culture, such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Twelve Angry Men. But PC liberalism is like Leninism—morality is what serves the revolution, so to speak.
And how will these new leftists, the opinion leader vanguard of modern liberals, snooker the rest of us to let them take over our lives? Through health care and environmentalism. Writes Mark Steyn (link):
Beginning with FDR, wily statists justified the massive expansion of federal power under ever more elastic definitions of the commerce clause. For Obama-era control freaks, the environment and health care are the commerce clause supersized. They establish the pretext for the regulation of everything: If the government is obligated to cure you of illness, it has an interest in preventing you from getting ill in the first place — by regulating what you eat, how you live, the choices you make from the moment you get up in the morning. Likewise, if everything you do impacts “the environment,” then the environment is an all-purpose umbrella for regulating everything you do. It’s the most convenient and romantic justification for what the title of Paul Rahe’s new book rightly identifies as “soft despotism.”
Andrew Klavan’s recent distillation of it all (link) once again comes to mind: “Free people can treat each other justly, but they can't make life fair. To get rid of the unfairness among individuals, you have to exercise power over them. The more fairness you want, the more power you need. Thus, all dreams of fairness become dreams of tyranny in the end.” And all for our own good, imagine that.

John M Greco

Thursday, August 27, 2009

On the Passing of Edward Kennedy -- A Dissenting View

I dissent from the adulation being heaped upon Edward “Ted” Kennedy, the late senator from Massachusetts, by the liberal media.

The United States has thrived on a commitment to the values of individual liberty, personal responsibility, and self-reliance. Edward Kennedy, in his public and private lives, worked to undermine them. He took a different view. He was the quintessential American liberal of the modern era, espousing a philosophy born of post-war pacifism and 1960’s dreamy childish utopianism, for whom government-enforced and monitored “fairness” and “equality” are foremost objectives. Kennedy was a prominent leader of a political movement that promotes the growth and expansion of a central government for controlling ever-more aspects of our lives under the direction of ruling liberal elites, all ostensibly for our own good. The modern liberal moral conceit blinds them to the ultimate destructive consequence of their philosophy, as Andrew Klavan recently summarized (link) so well in the WSJ: “Free people can treat each other justly, but they can't make life fair. To get rid of the unfairness among individuals, you have to exercise power over them. The more fairness you want, the more power you need. Thus, all dreams of fairness become dreams of tyranny in the end.”

In pursuit of his vision for America Kennedy could be vicious and deceitful, perhaps most notably in his treatment of Supreme Court nominees from Republican presidents. Scott Johnson at Powerline blog reminds us (link) that Kennedy said from the floor of the Senate that “Robert Bork's America is a land in which … blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters….” – just a snippet of what Johnson calls a “willfully false and remarkably coarse attack on Bork” (and that’s putting it politely). Karl Rove reminds us in a TV interview that Kennedy called now Justice Alito a “bigot” during his confirmation process. Smearing as racists those you oppose is not the action of a fair and decent man, but is a part of an ends-justify-the-means approach of dubious morality. His last political act was a shameless and unprincipled effort to convince fellow Massachusetts Democrats to have one rule for Republicans but a better one for Democrats on filling open Senate seats, which I just wrote about here.

Edward Kennedy lived his life as a sometimes wild pampered rich boy on his father’s money. Everything he got he was given. His father got him into Harvard but he was expelled for cheating. His father gave him his Senate seat before he was even old enough to sit in it, and thus it had to be held for a while by a family retainer. But most telling of all, this is the man who left a woman to suffer a horrible death trapped in the submerged car he had just driven off a Chappaquiddick Island bridge while driving drunk, as he swam away and slithered off not to call for help that may well have saved her but rather to sober up and gather the Kennedy family lawyers and media retainers to concoct a cover story that the liberal press willingly endorsed as co-conspirator.

I do not say that he was a bad man in every aspect of his life. But his politics were wrong for an America of free, self-reliant, and self-directed citizens, and his personal behavior and political style showed remarkable failings.

John M Greco

Monday, August 24, 2009

Democrat Kennedy Proposes New Approach to Government – One Rule for Republicans and a Better One for Democrats

It’s hard to be surprised by any story of rank liberal hypocrisy, for they come at us these days like mosquitoes on a muggy summer night, but I admit this one took me aback for a moment. Dying of cancer, Democrat Senator Edward (“Ted”) Kennedy chooses to exit the political stage the same way he has occupied it – as an immoral shameless opportunist.

Kennedy was the driving force (link) of the movement in Massachusetts that changed the rules in midstream to deprive Republican then-Governor Mitt Romney of the ability to appoint a replacement to fill out the remainder of Sen. John Kerry’s term should Kerry have been elected president in 2004. Prior to that change, a vacant senate seat was to be filled by governor’s appointment, but Kennedy convinced fellow Democrats in Massachusetts government to change the rule so that vacancies would be filled by special election. Now because he is sick and realizes that his own Senate seat may become vacant before the next regular election, and since the Massachusetts governor is now a Democrat rather than a Republican, Kennedy wants to completely reverse course and change the law back to having the governor appoint a replacement (link). While the Democrats are at it, to save time and money why not just pass a law that allows Democrat governors to fill by appointment but requires a special election if the governor is a Republican? And as a typical example of liberal media bias, this deceitful Chicago Tribune article (link) never mentions at all the fact that the Massachusetts law is what it is today because Democrats made it that way to prevent a Republican governor from making a replacement appointment.

Lots of pejorative adjectives occur to me I would waste half a day typing out. This is the Kennedy who left a woman to suffer a horrible, slow death in the car he drove off a Chappaquiddick Island bridge while driving drunk as he swam away and slithered off to sober up and gather the Kennedy family lawyers and media retainers to concoct a cover story that the liberal press willingly endorsed as co-conspirator.

This man has lived his life as a pampered, unprincipled trust-funder in the lifelong pursuit of raw power in the name of the “people,” basking in the adulation of a proletariat he has long been luring down the road to a socialism we have seen before – for most of us, the heavy hand of pervasive government control “for our own good,” but for the elites like him running the government, special privileges and dachas in the countryside.

John M Greco

Monday, August 17, 2009

Two Reporters Injured Trying To Kiss President Obama’s Behind

Seen on the wire:

August 17, 2009 (United Press Affiliates)

(Washington D.C) -- A spokesperson for the Obama Administration is downplaying the significance of an incident at the White House yesterday which resulted in injuries to two reporters, calling it “an unfortunate misunderstanding.” The reporters sustained serious injuries as they and others suddenly rushed to kiss President Obama’s “behind” after mistakenly thinking he was speaking to them when he loudly exclaimed “Well you can just kiss my ass.” The reporters did not realize he was speaking into a cell phone via a small ear-piece microphone which was hidden from their view and they thought he was addressing them.

In the melee, New York Times reporter Susan Jones tripped on the leg of NBC reporter Sam Emery and sustained a compound fracture of her left femur, with a piece of bone protruding through her skin. Upon coming to after a five-hour surgery, she downplayed the seriousness of her injury saying “These things happen, and it’s no big deal. It was just a misunderstanding on the part of us reporters, and this does not reflect at all on President Obama. I’m just so thankful that he was completely uninjured and can continue his historic and consequential presidency.” Mr Emery, who has been on the White House beat only six months since graduating from journalism school, suffered multiple ligament tears in his right knee when he hit the ground but shrugged it off saying “At my age these injuries were bound to happen sooner or later, and I’m just so happy that President Obama is fine and continues to bring all residents of North America and the world together through his visionary leadership.” NBC's veteran broadcaster Brian Williams, who has said that more should follow his example of bowing before President Obama and keeping a respectful distance, nevertheless stated "With all the excitement in appearing before President Obama, it's easy to see how things like this happen."

Newsweek Magazine’s editor Evan Thomas, who has characterized President Obama as a “sort of God” and who has decided to feature President Obama permanently on the magazine's cover, expressed relief that both the President and the Newsweek reporter at the scene were not hurt and voiced pride that his reporter was the only one to actually reach President Obama to plant a kiss on his behind before the misunderstanding was recognized. He said the incident illustrates the “dedication, passion, and journalistic professionalism” his staff bring to reporting the news.

John M Greco

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Obama Divides Opposition To Conquer Drug Makers Who Seek To Appease

Obama has divided what should be the united opposition to his underhanded and deceptive scheme to put in place the foundation for nationalized health care. The free-enterprise-based pharmaceutical industry (PhRMA) foolishly thinks it has cut a deal with Obama on his health care reform plans (link), apparently thinking that this supposed deal is less bad than what would happen to them if they opposed Obama. Aside from the fact that Congress actually writes the laws, as least as of this moment six months into the Age of Obama, and prominent Congressional Dems have made it clear there are no deals that will bind them, and aside from the fact that whatever isn’t in a bill this year can be easily added to a new one next year once the ultraliberal Dems vanquish the opposition to nationalized health care, what in the world makes anyone, including the pharmaceutical industry, think they can trust Obama on anything, in light of everything they now know of him and have now seen of him?

Rich Lowry writes in the above-linked post at National Review Online that “[e]ven if the deal holds, PhRMA will be at the mercy of a government system that will tend to squeeze out even those private players who have obligingly assisted in creating the predicate for their own destruction.”

Winston Churchill insightfully described an appeaser as “one who feeds the crocodile hoping it will eat him last.” Indeed.

John M Greco