Send In The Crowns

Here’s a pleasingly dyspeptic assessment of the State of the Union pageant, from Kevin D. Williamson.

23 Comments

  1. the one eyed man says

    Williamson’s piece is long on snark and short on anything else. His argument – to the extent that he has one – is ably refuted here:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-28/state-of-the-union-humbles-presidency.html

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    No, I’m with Williamson. Pointless preening, pomp and pageantry. Shameless showboating, schlock, and Shinola. Not to mention partisan cant, vapid platitudes, and (in this case, at least) outright bullshit.

    Spare us. Please. It’s bad enough when it’s a president I don’t detest. Just write the bloody thing down, please, and messenger it over to the Hill.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Permalink
  3. the one eyed man says

    If you dislike it so much, then don’t watch it. I didn’t.

    The Constitution requires the President to “give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” I suppose that if the President could get it all down to 140 characters, he could tweet it. Somehow I doubt this was the original intent of the Founders.

    However, this would deprive us of the entertainment of seeing one unhinged Republican Congressman threaten to break a reporter in two, and another unhinged Republican Congressman characterizing President Obama as a “Socialistic dictator” who is “Kommandant-in-Chef.” Criticizing the President on policy issues is fine. Criticizing his cooking is way out of bounds.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Yep, you’re right. I shouldn’t watch it.

    That Rep. Grimm episode was really a shame. (You must be so glad that there aren’t any unsaintly Democrats!)

    As far as the characterization of our red-diaper K-in-C goes, for some reason that didn’t bother me so much.

    Forward!

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink
  5. the one eyed man says

    I would never claim that all Democrats are saintly. However, I can’t think of a single instance of a Democratic leader who threatened anyone with physical violence. Representative Grimm was probably following in the fine conservative tradition initiated by William F. Buckley, who notably told Gore Vidal on national television that he would “sock you in your goddam face and you’ll stay plastered.”

    You might say that Harry Truman veered towards Socialism when he tried to nationalize the steel industry, or Richard Nixon when he instituted wage and price controls. However you can’t say that about Obama. If he was even remotely Socialist, he would have nationalized the banks in 2009, and maybe prosecuted some bankers. He might have nationalized the auto makers instead of taking a passive equity stake and selling it later. He would have pushed for socialized medicine instead of letting private insurance companies prosper from a flood of new customers.

    Of course, he did none of those things. Don’t tell that to Congressman Weber, who compared Obama yesterday to a Nazi dictator. Or Congressman Joshua Black, who last week said that for Obama, “It’s time to arrest and hang him high.” Or Congressmen Louis Gohmert, Steve King, or Steve Stockman, who routinely make similar comments. These are not fringe players: they are sitting Congressmen.

    But hey: if you can photo shop a picture of Obama so that he looks like Lenin – who, after all, was responsible for expropriating private property on an epic scale and murdering a few million people – I guess that is what passes for reasoned discourse on the Right these days. When a few malcontents on the extreme fringe photoshopped BusHitler, conservatives (rightly) objected furiously. Now that their guy has been replaced by a different guy, comparing Obama to Lenin, Hitler, and Stalin is fashionably mainstream among conservatives. Go figure.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink
  6. JK says

    Apparently the CinC (Clown in Chief) was last to arrive … like One-Eyed’s last paragraph.

    http://tv.yahoo.com/news/willie-robertson-creates-quandry-tv-reporters-covering-president-024055676.html

    I didn’t watch the address – glad to see something newsworthy happened.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 4:41 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    However, I can’t think of a single instance of a Democratic leader who threatened anyone with physical violence.

    Well, I’ll poke around for threats. (Gotta feeling the Chicago and New York and New Jersey machines — not to mention folks like Huey Long — might have made a threat or two.)

    All I have off the top of my head, though, is a near-fatal assault.

    But hey: if you can photo shop a picture of Obama so that he looks like Lenin…

    Photoshop? That’s his own poster. And as for his being a red-diaper-baby, you couldn’t find a redder one. You can look it up.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Permalink
  8. The one eyed man says

    You don’t have to look very far to find threats of violence coming out of the New Jersey political machine:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/16/nyregion/democrats-pounce-on-chris-christies-blunt-words.html?_r=1&

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink
  9. Malcolm says

    Yeah, well

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    Oh, and by the way:

    He would have pushed for socialized medicine instead of letting private insurance companies prosper from a flood of new customers.

    He would if he could. That’s exactly what he’s always said he wants.

    But if you haven’t got the political horses actually to nationalize an industry, the next-best thing is to bring it under tightly regulated state control. Health-“insurance” can hardly be called a private industry anymore, in which providers freely create their own products, according to actuarial analysis, to compete on the open market.

    It might not be “socialized medicine”, but it’s close as Mr. Obama was able to get.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Permalink
  11. the one eyed man says

    Well, no. Insurance is an entirely private industry. Insurance companies are publicly owned by their shareholders. They can compete on the open market and price their products according to actuarial analysis. It is the capitalist model of free enterprise.

    However, they are a regulated industry, and have been so long before Obama came to Washington. They are regulated and licensed by the fifty states. Obamacare instituted minimum national requirements, but did not change the fact that insurance is a private and regulated industry.

    None of this has anything to do with Socialism. Auto makers are free to make whatever products they choose, provided they meet federal standards for safety and fuel economy. Airlines are free to fly whatever routes they choose at whatever price they choose, provided they meet federal standards for maintaining their planes, giving sleep breaks to their pilots, and so forth. Ranchers are free to sell their cattle at whatever price they want, provided they meet federal standards for food safety. These are all capitalistic, free market industries where the players are regulated, because the public interest trumps their right to operate their businesses any way they choose, to prevent Ford Pintos which explode at rear end collisions, planes which crash, and tainted meat. Capitalism need not be laissez-faire to be capitalism.

    Socialism is when the government owns the means of production. Socialized medicine is when doctors, nurses, and providers are government employees, and the government owns the hospitals and medical offices. None of this applies to Obamacare.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Permalink
  12. “…, comparing Obama to Lenin, Hitler, and Stalin is fashionably mainstream among conservatives.”

    When it comes to outrageous assertion, ol’ one-eye is the master baiter.

    I have not heard any mainstream conservative compare Obama to Hitler, though I do suspect Obama is a closet Jew hater.

    Nor have I heard any mainstream conservative compare Obama to either Lenin or Stalin, both of whom were responsible for the deaths of millions of their own people. As far as I know, Obama is not directly responsible for the death of anyone, with the **single exception** of Osama bin Laden.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink
  13. Malcolm says

    Peter, you don’t understand the modern history of American socialism. After the heady mid-century excitement died down (cue Pete Seeger), and it became clear, once the Sixties were over, that there simply was not going to be a leftist revolution in America, socialists, led in large part by theorists of the Chicago Marxist clique that Mr. Obama was marinated in by way of mentors like Frank Marshall Davis (deep connections exist there, also, for Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod), began to favor a more nuanced — more political, and less revolutionary — approach. (Hence the emphasis on “community organizing”.) Outright nationalization of a nation’s economic apparatus is unnecessary if sufficient de facto control is possible.

    The formerly private health-insurance industry is a perfect example. It is now thoroughly caponized and controlled — from its policy portfolios to its permitted percentage of profit. In return, the State, plying its power, promises to provide a pool of purchasers, subsidized where necessary by the public fisc. The context within which the industry now operates is nothing even remotely resembling a free market.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Permalink
  14. the one eyed man says

    I think even Henry can grasp that referring to Obama as the “Kommandant-in-Chef (sic)” dictator is a Nazi comparison.

    For a handy dandy list of over-the-top comparison of the Obama administration to the Gestapo, Obamacare to slavery and apartheid, etc.:

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/01/overblown-analogies-of-american-discourse.html

    Other examples:

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/12/15/3067651/north-carolina-legislator-obamacare/

    http://www.businessinsider.com/drudge-obama-hitler-stalin-gun-control-2013-1

    Nor is this list anywhere near exhaustive, but it gets the point across. One expects incendiary comparisons from extremists. What makes the Obama Presidency different is not only that they are coming from Republicans at the highest level – most notably their VP candidate from 2008 – and few, if any, of the remaining Republicans have the decency or the honor to denounce them. Not unlike when Obama’s citizenship was routinely questioned, despite incontrovertible proof that he was born in Hawaii to an American mother. Acquiescence is acceptance.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink
  15. Malcolm says

    Looking over what you’ve linked to, I don’t see a whole lot to denounce.

    Pointing out that the destructiveness of our current course may turn out to be worse than what we’ve suffered from our external enemies doesn’t seem so bad to me; it’s probably true.

    To suggest that the debt we are foisting onto future generations may reduce them to a kind of economic slavery is not far from the mark either, I think.

    There is also no doubt that the worst tyrants in history saw very clearly the need to disarm the people.

    Incendiary? Well, I recall Mr. Obama whipping up a little race hatred during the last campaign, telling minority voters that the Others who opposed his redistributionism were “enemies” to be “punished”.

    It goes both ways. Politics, as they say, “ain’t beanbag”.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  16. the one eyed man says

    If you want to make the case that Obama has Socialist or Marxist leanings, you have to come up with things he has done or things he has said which support that assertion. As a Senator, and then as a President whose ever public utterance is on tape, you should have plenty of examples to cite. Positing a far-fetched guilt by association to Marxist groups which disbanded when he was a child, or to a friend of his grandfather (who was far from a “mentor”), doesn’t make your case. By your logic, Christopher Hitchens is a Trotskyite.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink
  17. Malcolm says

    Well, Christopher Hitchens was a Trotskyite. (He got over it.)

    As for Mr. Obama: “leanings”? It’s one thing to try to make the case that Mr. Obama hasn’t governed as a socialist, but do you really deny with a straight face even that he has socialist leanings? Sometimes I think you really are just trolling here.

    Things he has said? That’s like shooting fish in a barrel. He emphasizes collectivism, redistributionism, and centralization, and stokes class resentment, in nearly every speech he makes.

    Things he has done? See above.

    This is worth a post of its own, probably, though others have already done a far better job than I’d be likely to.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink
  18. JK says

    Peter, reckon it might be a good idea – might save the US some money, anyway, I noted Mr. Obama mentioning …

    … a force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan … to pursue any remnants of al-Qaida. … While we’ve put al-Qaida’s core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved as al-Qaida affiliates take root in different parts of the world. In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Mali.

    You do see what should be obvious to the President Peter?

    Ask your friend Kirkpatrick next time the NYT is gonna talk to the President, to take along his globe. There ain’t no AQ anywhere within those lines.

    Except perhaps like you said, “the Republicans being affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce, the Democrats to the AF of L, CIO.”

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Permalink
  19. “…, and another unhinged Republican Congressman characterizing President Obama as a “Socialistic dictator” who is “Kommandant-in-Chef.””

    Even one-eye can differentiate between an “unhinged Republican Congressman” and a “fashionably mainstream conservative”. But perhaps I give him more credit than he deserves.

    Origin of CHIEF:

    Middle English, from Anglo-French chief, chef head.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Permalink
  20. the one eyed man says

    Let’s see. Sarah Palin equated government borrowing – which is declining at the fastest rate in fifty years – with slavery, where one person is owned by another person, and is subject to rape, torture, or murder at his master’s whim. Rick Santorum equated increased access to health care with apartheid, which is slavery lite. A Republican Congressman equated the contraception mandate with Pearl Harbor and 9/11, events which caused the deaths of many thousands. The Governor of Maine equated the IRS with the Gestapo. Lesser luminaries made equally outrageous comparisons. If you “don’t see a whole lot to denounce ,” then you should pack your bags for Stockholm in case there is ever a Nobel Prize in Selective Outrage.

    * * * *

    Does Obama have Socialist leanings? No. If you have a scale where Abbie Hoffman is a one and Ted Cruz is a 10, Obama would be a 4. Maybe a 5. His domestic policy is arguably to the left of Nixon, who not only founded the EPA but instituted wage and price controls. Socialist is not a synonym of liberal, progressive, or big government. It has to do with whether private or public entities own the means of production. Outside of Bernie Sanders, there are no Socialists in positions of power.

    Does he emphasize collectivism? To the extent that he places a primacy of the society over the individual – e.g., protecting public safety by limiting the ability of individuals to buy guns without background checks – then sure, he does favor collectivism over individualism. Ditto for centralization, which is pretty much the same thing.

    Does he talk about redistribution? Of course. So did Reagan and both Bushes. Their tax and economic policies have redistributed wealth from the bottom and middle to the top. Obama’s policies would redistribute in the other direction to get closer to status quo ante. The allocation of resources is at the heart of governance, and a source of disagreement between Right and Left. There is no sin in talking about redistribution.

    Stoking class resentment? Absolutely not. The meme that Obama demonizes the wealthy is right wing nonsense. Over the past thirty years, American society has become more stratified and calcified. The gap between the top quintile and the bottom quintile is much greater than ever before. This is a legitimate topic for discussion, which the Right refuses to acknowledge by branding any reference to inequality of opportunity as class warfare.

    The right wing caricature of Obama is as a radical leftist out of touch with the American mainstream. This is delusional. Obama is well to the right of FDR, LBJ, or Tip O’Neill. He is about where Nixon and Clinton were. It is only because moderates were purged from the Republican party, leaving in their place a party of extremists, that Obama seems far left by comparison.

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 10:01 pm | Permalink
  21. The one eyed man says

    More on Obama qua Hitler, this time from the editors of the Wall Street Journal:

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/01/wsj-obama-isnt-hitler-but-hes-pretty-hitler-y.html

    Posted January 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink
  22. Eric says

    Excuse me? Where the heck have you *been* this past decade? Comparing Presidents to Hitler is de rigeur ever since Saint Gore lost the election.

    Posted January 31, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Permalink
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