Dr. Schumer’s weak, retrospective prescription

Chuck Schumer has caused a bit of a stir by stating that the Democrats erred in pushing through Obamacare. “Unfortunately,” said Schumer “Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them [in the 2008 election]. We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem — health care reform.”

According to Schumer, Democrats should have focused on aiding the middle class in order to build confidence among voters before turning to revamping the health-care system. He also claims that he opposed the timing of the health-care vote and was overruled by other party members.

From a purely political standpoint, Schumer is correct. The Democrats would be better off today if they had eschewed comprehensive health insurance reform and had, in Clintonesque fashion, “focused like a laser on the economy.”

Schumer’s take is superficial, though. First, from a policy standpoint, it is foolish to suppose that the big government policies the Democrats might have pursued in the absence of the Obamacare fight would, in fact, have improved the economy or otherwise aided the middle class.

Second, there is no reason to believe that the Democrats could have “turned to revamping the health-care system” after addressing so-called middle class issues. The window on enacting Obamacare-style reform was rapidly closing. Had the Democrats not barely squeezed through it in early 2010, the opportunity would have been lost.

Finally, neither President Obama nor the Democratic base wanted a repeat of the Clinton presidency. Obama has stated as much.

The Democrats wanted to do big, transformatiive things. Obamacare is a big, transformative thing.

In Schumer’s alternative universe, the Democrats likely would have suffered big losses in 2010, as they did under Clinton in 1994. No magic “middle class” economic reform could have boosted the economy to a level that would have satisfied voters. Electoral defeat in 2010 would have meant, as it did in the real universe, an end to liberal legislative reform even if Democratic losses in 2014 had been minimal or non-existent.

Eight years with no major legislative accomplishments to point to would have left the Democrats in bad shape for 2016 — quite possibly in worse shape than they will be in having enacted Obamacare. The displeasure of the party’s base would have exceeded that which existed in 2000, when Al Gore’s candidacy was undermined by apathy and the challenge of Ralph Nader from the left.

It may be, however, that in Schumer’s scenario the Dems would have held the Senate in 2014. Schumer is all about power, not principle. So it’s natural that he would have been happier with a Clinton-lite presidency.

#Shirtgate explained

The feminist establishment has gone completely around the bend. I’m not sure when it happened.; I doubt it is a recent development. In her prescient 1972 book The New Chastity and Other Arguments Against Women’s Liberation, Midge Decter examined the second-generation literature of feminism and found it rotten at the core, if not rotten to the core. I haven’t kept up with the literature. My impression, however, is that the movement has descended into totalitarian madness. As the whole “rape culture” brouhaha demonstrates, feminism has become just another branch of liberal fascism.

Christina Hoff Sommers has long sought to make feminism safe for the sane. She now does so online at YouTube in her series The Factual Feminist. In the latest installment, she sheds light on the dark corners of “#Shirtgate” (subtitle: “Feminist heckles heard from outer space”) and the disputed question of sexism in the sciences (video below).

Via Claudia Anderson/Weekly Standard.

The Telos of the Liberal Mind?

Remember the old joke from the 1960s about the liberal cleric who told his congregation that he had been mugged, but that he sympathized with his mugger, because injustice, etc. . . Whereupon an elderly lady in the back of the pews mutters loudly, “Mug him again.”

The joke has come to life in Georgetown, where a student who was recently mugged at gunpoint has written an article justifying the muggers because of his privilege. I’d suspect this of being a grand punk job, but I think the student, Oliver Friedfeld, actually means it:

Last weekend, my housemate and I were mugged at gunpoint while walking home from Dupont Circle. The entire incident lasted under a minute, as I was forced to the floor, handed over my phone and was patted down.

And yet, when a reporter asked whether I was surprised that this happened in Georgetown, I immediately answered: “Not at all.” It was so clear to me that we live in the most privileged neighborhood within a city that has historically been, and continues to be, harshly unequal. While we aren’t often confronted by this stark reality west of Rock Creek Park, the economic inequality is very real. . .

What has been most startling to me, even more so than the incident itself, have been the reactions I’ve gotten. I kept hearing “thugs,” “criminals” and “bad people.” While I understand why one might jump to that conclusion, I don’t think this is fair.

Not once did I consider our attackers to be “bad people.” I trust that they weren’t trying to hurt me. In fact, if they knew me, I bet they’d think I was okay. They wanted my stuff, not me. While I don’t know what exactly they needed the money for, I do know that I’ve never once had to think about going out on a Saturday night to mug people. I had never before seen a gun, let alone known where to get one. The fact that these two kids, who appeared younger than I, have even had to entertain these questions suggests their universes are light years away from mine. . .

Who am I to stand from my perch of privilege, surrounded by million-dollar homes and paying for a $60,000 education, to condemn these young men as “thugs?” It’s precisely this kind of “otherization” that fuels the problem. . .

The millennial generation is taking over the reins of the world, and thus we are presented with a wonderful opportunity to right some of the wrongs of the past. As young people, we need to devote real energy to solving what are collective challenges. Until we do so, we should get comfortable with sporadic muggings and break-ins.

I wonder where Mr. Friedfeld would draw the line? Murder, perhaps? His own, I wonder? What if the muggings and break-ins became less “sporadic,” like New York city in the 1970s. Way back in the late 1960s Daniel Patrick Moynihan wondered whether the nihilism becoming more apparent on the left day by way was “the telos of modern liberalism.” I think we see the answer in this story.

Postscript: The article says Friedfeld is a student in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. He seems a perfect fit for the State Department. (The comments, by the way, are overwhelmingly savage. Hope, after all.)

Those damn Minnesotans

When you read that men from Minnesota have been indicted for aiding the Islamic State — as in the Hill headline “Two Minnesota men charged with aiding ISIS,” or in the Star Tribune headline “2 Minneapolis men charged with attempting to aid terrorists,” or in the local FOX News affiliate headline “2 Minnesota men charged with ISIS support” — you can be pretty sure that we’re talking about first or second generation Somali immigrants to Minnesota who have yet to adjust their loyalties to the United States.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say it has something to do with the (imperfectly understood, of course) Islamic faith of our fellow “Minnesotans.” It’s almost enough to make you rethink the continuing flow of immigration supported by our insane 1965 immigration law and the reigning cliches about the beauties of “diversity.” Almost.

President Obama welded the case for continuing (and increasing) the immigration flow to anti-American fatuity in Chicago yesterday. Neil Munro reports on Obama’s Chicago speech here.

According to Obama, Americans don’t have the right to exclude anyone in particular (“those folks,” as he put it) from the United States. In connection with Obama’s speech, we might want to meditate on the phenomenon of the stream of “Minnesota men” making the headlines.

UPDATE: The White House has now posted a transcript of Obama’s remarks in Chicago here. Although the subject of the prepared speech was immigration, Obama led off with a remarks revisiting events in Ferguson, Missouri.

The IRS Scandal Rears Its Head

The Obama Administration’s IRS scandal is multi-faceted. In addition to the persecution of conservative non-profits by Lois Lerner et al., the question has been percolating for some years whether Obama’s IRS has transferred confidential taxpayer information to Obama’s White House in violation of federal criminal laws. The issue first arose when Austin Goolsbee of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers told reporters that he had information about Koch Industries that could only have come, illegally, from confidential IRS files. When questions were asked, the administration immediately clammed up.

Years later, the judicial system may be poised to expose another layer of Obama corruption. A group called Cause of Action began a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of the Treasury, and for several years, your taxpayer dollars have funded the administration’s cover-up.

But nothing lasts forever, and a federal court in Washington, D.C. has finally overruled the Treasury Department’s frivolous objections, and ordered Treasury to respond to Cause of Action’s request for documents. That request relates to the Department’s Inspector General’s investigation–which began a long time ago, and probably has long been concluded–and asks for “[a]ll documents pertaining to any investigation by [TIGTA] into the unauthorized disclosure of [26 U.S.C.] §6103 ‘return information’ to anyone in the Executive Office of the President.”

That is an extraordinarily narrow request for documents which, one would think, could have been responded to in a few hours. But the administration’s evasion has gone on for years. Now that the court has ordered the administration to respond, its lawyers have asked for more time. The Treasury Department’s lawyers wrote Cause of Action’s counsel an email that reads in part:

My client wants to know if you would consent to a motion pushing back (in part) TIGTA’s response date by two weeks to December 15, 2014. The agency has located 2,500 potentially responsive documents and anticipates being able to finish processing 2,000 of these pages by the December 1 date. It needs the additional two weeks to deal with the last 500 pages to determine if they are responsive and make any necessary withholdings. We would therefore like to ask the court to permit the agency to issue a response (including production) on December 1 as to any documents it has completed processing by that date, and do the same as to the remaining documents by December 15.

So the Obama administration has identified 2,500 documents relating to its investigation of illegal transfers of information from the IRS to the White House. That is a news flash, obviously. But what follows is laughable. The government, with all its resources, needs two weeks to deal with a lousy 500 documents? The numbers here are risibly small. In litigation, we typically count documents to be produced in the millions, not the hundreds. A competent lawyer or paralegal can get through 500 documents in a few hours at most.

What does this tell us? 1) Based on Mr. Goolsbee’s comments several years ago, there is every reason to believe that Barack Obama’s White House has illegally received confidential taxpayer information from the IRS. 2) Confronted by a lawsuit, the Obama administration, instead of responding forthrightly, has danced around the issue for years and erected every possible procedural barrier. 3) When finally brought to heel by a court, the administration asks for a ridiculously long period of time to produce a tiny number of documents on its own investigation of criminal behavior by the IRS and the White House. If Barack Obama wanted the results of the investigation to become public, he could order it, and we would have the relevant data in 15 minutes. But secrecy is the watchword of the Obama administration.

Koch Industries asked for the results of the Treasury Department’s investigation long ago, but was told that it would be illegal for the Obama administration to provide such information. Why? Because by doing so, they might reveal confidential taxpayer information about…Koch Industries!

This particular story is farce, not tragedy. It will wend its absurd way through the court system for years to come, probably arriving at no conclusion until the scofflaw Obama administration is safely out of office. In the meantime, federal criminal laws governing the privacy of IRS data, like the criminal laws generally, are a source of hilarity among Democrats. Democrat cronies sip Scotch and light cigars–I hope not with $100 bills–laughing at the rest of us who work to pay the taxes that support them in the luxury to which they have happily become accustomed. I have always thought that the term “ruling class” was ridiculous as applied to the United States, but the Obama administration is causing me to re-think that view.

How many members of the Nixon administration ultimately went to jail? I think no more than five or ten. The Obama administration has violated criminal statutes with an abandon that Nixon and his minions never dreamed of. An accounting remains; I think there are a considerable number of Obama minions and cronies who should be behind bars.

Did Obama pressure Gov. Nixon to keep the National Guard out?

I noted here that the National Guard wasn’t in Ferguson last night, and I wondered why. After all, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had declared a state of emergency in the St. Louis area — the potential emergency being the impending grand jury decision — and had mobilized the National Guard. In addition, the mayor of Ferguson had requested the Guard’s presence.

Yet, the National Guard was nowhere to be seen in Ferguson. It should have been. The local police force was not up to the task of preventing the vandalism, looting, and arson that followed announcement of the grand jury’s decision.

Why wasn’t the National Guard deployed? Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder believes that Nixon was pressured by President Obama into not sending the Guard to Ferguson. Appearing on Fox News, Kinder asked:

Where were they [the National Guard] last night? The law-abiding citizens and business owners and taxpayers of the St. Louis region have the right to ask this governor to answer some questions.

Here’s my question that the governor must answer: Is the reason that the National Guard wasn’t in there was because the Obama administration and the Holder Justice Department leaned on you to keep them out?

I cannot imagine any other reason why the governor who mobilized the National Guard would not put them in there to stop this before it started.

I can. Nixon may be incompetent or he may be soft-headed. But Kinder’s explanation — that Obama and/or Holder pressured Nixon — seems at least as plausible.

Via NRO.

Trayvon and Mike

Last night, basketball player Lebron James tweeted this graphic:

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 6.34.40 PM

As many have noted, there are obvious parallels between the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases. Both were young black men who were, as we were told countless times, unarmed. Both were shot by men portrayed as white authority figures–Darren Wilson, a police officer, and George Zimmerman, a “white Hispanic” who, as a neighborhood watch volunteer, was a sort of honorary policeman, just as he was an honorary white man.

Supporters of Martin and Brown would prefer to leave the similarities there. But there are more: Martin thought he was a tough guy, a martial arts aficionado, and had been kicked out of high school for burglary. Brown was high on marijuana and had just robbed a convenience store when he encountered Officer Wilson.

Martin attacked Zimmerman and was seen by an eyewitness sitting on top of Zimmerman and punching his face. The 300-pound Brown likewise attacked Officer Wilson, calling him a f****** p***y and apparently attempting to wrest his gun away. They both made the same mistake: they attacked (unintentionally in Martin’s case, intentionally in Brown’s) a man with a gun. As a legal matter, both killings were rather obviously justified as self-defense, although my own opinion is that Wilson probably could have handled the situation better.

It is striking that the activists and race-baiters have chosen to raise two such weak cases to mythic status. In both instances, they were wrong on the facts. They claimed that Zimmerman shot Martin “execution style,” when in fact Zimmerman was on his back, getting his head banged into the pavement by Martin and in fear for his life. They said that Brown was trying to surrender–”hands up, don’t shoot!”–when in fact, he attacked Wilson inside Wilson’s police vehicle and was advancing on him again when the fatal rounds were fired.

Why did activists bet so much on two such weak cases? Can no instances be found where African-Americans have been shot by whites when it was NOT in self-defense? That can’t possibly be true. But those whites probably weren’t policemen, or even neighborhood watch volunteers. Maybe the activists just didn’t have any better cases to politicize.

Beyond that, though, I wonder whether the activists are really disappointed that, once again, their campaign to imprison a white man has failed. In their world of perpetual grievance, failure is success. If there had been a strong case against George Zimmerman, he would have been convicted. If there had been a strong case against Darren Wilson, he would have been indicted. But those results would not have advanced the Left’s preferred narrative: America is still a racist country.

For leftist race-baiters, failure is success. When they press a weak case and it fails, they claim vindication. With the grand jury declining to indict Darren Wilson, President Obama could say:

We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue for America. [T]here are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up. …[T]here are issues in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion. … [T]hose who are only interested in focusing on the violence and just want the problem to go away need to recognize that we do have work to do here, and we shouldn’t try to paper it over. …America isn’t everything that it could be.

Keeping African-Americans perpetually down is a core goal of the liberal movement and the Democratic Party. So Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin have to be victims, not aggressors.

Still, the truth is that they were victims. Not victims of a mythical white power structure–the concept is laughable as applied to either George Zimmerman or Darren Wilson. And certainly not victims of a racist judicial system. On the contrary, in both cases America’s court system rendered the right verdict under tremendous pressure to bend the truth to political expedience.

Rather, Martin and Brown were victims of an African-American culture in which the family has been pretty much destroyed, government checks have largely replaced employment, education is disparaged, criminality is respected, and racial animosity is a sign of authenticity. That culture has worked well for the Democratic Party, but it has been an utter disaster for millions of young black men like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.